Saturday, March 17, 2018

20 Latinas Who Persevered: Picture Books for Grade 2

Image result for the flying girl margarita
from The Flying Girl

1.    Benatar, Raquel. (2004). Isabel Allende: Recuerdos para un cuento/Isabel Allende: Memories for a Story. Illustrated by Fernando Molinari.  Houston, TX: Piñata Books.
2.    Brown, Monica. (2017). Frida Kahlo and Her Animalitos. Illustrated by John Parra. New York: NorthSouth Books.
3.    Brown, Monica. (2010). Side by Side/Lado a lado: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez/La historia de Dolores Huerta y Cesar Chavez. Illustrated by Joe Cepeda. New York: HarperCollins/Rayo.
4.    Brown, Monica. (2004). My Name is Celia/Me llamo Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz/la vida de Celia Cruz.  Illustrated by Rafael López. Cooper Square Publishing.
5.    Chambers, Veronica. (2005). Celia Cruz: Queen of SalsaIllustrated by Julie Maren. New York: Dial.
6.    Cohn, Diana. (2005). ¡Si, Se Puede! / Yes, We Can!: Janitor Strike in L.A. (English and Spanish Edition). Illustrated by Francisco Delgado. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press.
7.    Engle, Margarita. (2018). The Flying Girl: How Aida de Acosta Learned to Soar. Illustrated by Sara Palacios. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
8.    Engle, Margarita. (2017). Bravo!: Poems About Amazing Hispanics. Illustrated by Rafael López . New York: Henry Holt and Co.
9.    Gonzalez, Lucia. (2008). The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos. Illustrated by Lulu Delacre. San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.
10.Herrera, Juan Felipe. (2014). Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes. Illustrated by Raul Colón. New York: Penguin Books.
11.Mora, Pat. (2002). Maria Paints the Hills. Paintings by Maria Hesch. Albuquerque, NM: Museum of New Mexico Press.
12.Mora, Pat. (2002). A Library for Juana: The World of Sor Juana Ines. Illustrated by Beatriz Vidal. New York: Knopf Books.
13.Mora, Pat. (2005). Dona Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart. Illustrated by Raul Colón. New York: Knopf Books.
14.Morales, Yuyi. (2014). Viva Frida. Illustrated by Tim O'Meara. New York: A Neal Porter Book.
15.Tafolla, Carmen and Sharyll Teneyuca. (2008). That's Not Fair! / ¡No Es Justo!: Emma Tenayuca's Struggle for Justice/La lucha de Emma Tenayuca por la justicia.  Illustrated by Terry Ybáñez. San Antonio, TX: Wings Press.
16.Tonatiuh, Duncan. (2017). Danza!: Amalia Hernández and El Ballet Folklórico de México. New York: Abrams Books for Young Readers.
17.Tonatiuh, Duncan. (2014). Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation. New York: Harry N. Abrams. 
18. Warren, Sarah. (2012). Dolores Huerta: A Hero to MIgrant WorkersIllustrated by Robert Casilla. New York: Two Lions.
19.Winter, Jonah. (2009). Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx: La juez que crecio en el Bronx. Illustrated by Edel Rodriguez. New York: Atheneum.
20.Winter, Jonah. (2002). FridaIllustrated by Ana Juan. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

#SOL18: 3 A.M. (For Rob on the 2nd Anniversary)

Rob and Devon celecbrating Dev's 2md birthday.
As I write this it is nearing 3 a.m. We are buried under the snow tonight. More than two feet fell throughout the day. In the next room, my son is busy making a pot of rice. I can hear the press of his foot against the wooden floor, the rattle he makes each time he lifts the lid off the pot and stirs. Such ordinary sounds are the ones of industry. Earlier he handed me his iPad and showed me a piece of writing he had finished. Strong, clear writing. He is his father's son.

Thirty years ago, Rob and I went to hear Li-Young Lee read. We quickly purchased two volumes of his poetry--books I have kept close throughout our many moves.  I have turned to Young's words for comfort, joy, surprise, and knowledge. His insights so soften startle me. So it isn't so surprising that tonight, although accidental, it was Young's words that were the balm I most needed.

Rob, mid-word. 
"From Blossoms" caught my heart tonight on this anniversary of Rob's death. How two years could have come and gone is more mystery than not. But it has. More lessons than my  hands could possibly hold have come and faded these last two years. From that fog, what emerges most though is the blessing that comes from living deeply during those twenty-eight years.

I'm so grateful now that we didn't muddy living with too much worry about things we could not control. "From Blossoms" is a reminder of that adage: live well, live deeply, live now. It is a sensual feast and against such lushness, Young's closing stanza resonates. He writes,

Rob and I in Maine. Dev took the picture. 
"There are days we live/as if death were nowhere/in the background; from joy/to joy to joy, from wing to wing,/from blossom to blossom to/impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom." 
We lived more days than I could count as if death were nowhere in the background.  Tonight, I'm so grateful for that. These days when I start to feel blue, I remember what it means to live joyfully--to appreciate the ordinary moments that give the most definition to the day by noticing how the scent of rice lingers well after it has been eaten.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

When Music Meets Poem: Kris Delmorst's "Strange Conversation"

Sea Impression (M.A. Reilly, printed on linen)

I really love Kris Delmhorst's interpretation of John Masefield's "Sea Fever" on a released album of hers, Strange Conversation (2006).  I could listen to it over and over again. 
Sea Fever

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied; 
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

Her range is powerful. In contrast to the lulling and soulful "Sea Fever," her spirited take on e.e. cummings's poem "anyone lived in a pretty how town" is nothing less than rambunctious.  The whole album is excellent.   

[anyone lived in a pretty how town]

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Spoken Poem for Teachers To Remind Us of our True Direction

I love this poem by Donovan Livingston--his commencement address from Harvard University in 2016 (Graduate School of Education). In light of the current discussion largely by non-educators calling for teachers to be armed, this spoken poem reminds me of a truer call to the work we all must do.

Monday, February 26, 2018

#PoetryBreak: Words for Forgetting

Watching (M.A. Reilly, NY State, 2009)

Words for Forgetting

Loren Eiseley
From Prairie Schooner.
Go forward on these simple roads,
Do not turn back.
The stars behind you in the wind will blow,
The coyote’s track
Delicately replace the lifted dust
Of your own heel.
Go forward and the dark will close
About you. You will feel
The fragrant emptiness of prairie miles.
Now you will own
Nothing that is not yours, yourself
Down to the naked bone.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Celebrating a Small Moment in Time with Derrick Barnes and His Ode to the Fresh Cut

Looking for a read aloud book to help young people understand the concept of a small moment?  I'd advise you take a look at Derrick Barnes's Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, illustrated by Gordon C. James and published by Agate Publishing.  This picture book chronicles a trip to the barbershop.  Part love letter, part history--Barnes's poetic voice comes through with just enough detail to make the ordinary feel royal. For example, after the haircut, Barnes writes:

It's the mention of the sting from apple green alcohol or witch hazel that catches my eye. We have smelt this too and know how a fresh shave alongside some alcohol allows for a bit of a sit-up-and-notice moment. It is these types of details that breathe life into this account.

The writing is memorable and populated with metaphor, rhythm, and diction. The language moves and moves through you.No wonder it received the 2018 Newbery Honor Award for its writing. It was well deserved.

This book also garnered a 2018 Caldecott Honor Book and a 2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. The book is lush, populated with Gordon James's expressive oil paintings that slip and slide across each page. Impressionistic  jewels like this:

The angles, soft focus, and details work in concert to extend Barnes' words by providing images of the people and place where a Fresh Cut is most celebrated and providing an energy that works with the celebratory nature of the text.

This is a winner book.  I hope you'll take a look and find some young people to read it to.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Determined Futures, Russian Interference, and Prescribed Lessons at School

I Think (M.A. Reilly, 2009)

Like you, I too have been following Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the Russian influence of the presidential election of 2016. After the indictments last week of 13 Russian operatives for interfering in the election and the recent charge Mueller filed against Alex Van Der Zwaan, a lawyer, for lying to investigators about his interaction with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, new questions have arisen regarding the Trump campaign's possible collusion with Russia. What I mostly wonder about, beyond the possibility that President Trump, Vice President Pence and their coterie of advisers committed treason is why did the Russian interference work?  It's interesting that little seems to be made of this. Why did so many US citizens believe the false stories generated by Russian operatives? What allowed them to be so susceptible to these lies?

For the last thirty years I have worked in education in the United States. I have taught across the K-12 span and later taught in graduate school and I have seen significant changes with regard to who owns learning and what constitutes thought. The insistence on measuring language arts and mathematics learning through high stakes tests for the last thirty-two years has allowed for greater and greater allegiance to prescribed programs and other “teacher-proof”materials. These practices have generated less and less thinking by teachers and children and more and more following.

In the article, "Restoring Points of Potentiality: Sideshadowing in Elementary Classrooms" (The Reading Teacher, 63(4)), I wrote about the intellectual peril of determined futures. The article focuses on the sanctioned learning of Robertio in a grade 3 suburban elementary classroom--one I had been working with as a researcher and an external consultant. In lieu of an actual curriculum, teachers at this school were directed by the superintendent and principal to cobble together lessons from a reading basal and a professional text about backward design. Marge Tamberson's lessons were delivered so that youngsters would name prescribed answers that aligned with the answers in the teacher's edition. Attaining right answers was the measure of success.

"In many classrooms, like Tamberson’s, time functions like a string of moments unwound by the teacher for students to follow, bead by bead, to determined outcomes. Here, time is understood as points of actuality—not potentiality. Thus, classroom events and sanctioned learning outcomes are foreshadowed. Foreshadowing, Bernstein (1994) wrote, relies on logic that “must always value the present, not for itself, but as the harbinger of an already determined future” (p. 2). The scripted literacy program Tamberson was given to “enact” foreshadows the determined future for students and teachers, making less likely the occasion for students to learn from their own experiences" (p. 298).

It is this unwinding action that most interests me now as I think of the allure of fake news that by its design must posit a determined future in lieu of possibility. Like many of Tamberson’s third graders, adults influenced by the Russian propaganda, followed seeds to a prescribed outcome: Hillary Clinton was a criminal and was not to be trusted with the presidency at any cost. It's that any cost, that allowed so many to select third party candidates like Jill Stein or even the GOP candidate, Donald Trump. It gave voters not inclined to vote for the rather amoral Trump,  permission to do so. Clinton in some of these fake news accounts was connected with a false conspiracy theory that "claimed that the [John Peodesta's] emails contained coded messages referring to human trafficking and connecting several U.S. restaurants and high-ranking officials of the Democratic Party with an alleged child-sex ring" (from here). Although ridiculous and discredited, many believed these lies to be truth and established the false claim that Hillary Clinton was involved in child abuse. On Facebook, "a large number of the posts on Heart of Texas went after Clinton directly, like this one with a manipulated image showing her shaking hands with 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden and referring to her as a 'lying murderer and criminal' (from here). At Trump rallies, chants such as "lock her up" were also used on the fake news accounts by Russia.  These pages showed Clinton behind bars, citing she was a criminal and should be locked up. What these believed lies opened was permission to select a  other candidates given the false accounts that would lead one to believe that Clinton was treasonous and amoral.

To be clear, I am not suggesting here a causal relationship between education and the susceptibility of masses of people to believe manufactured news, but I do wonder if there might be a correlation. what happens when year after year, children learn to follow, rather than think?  Imagine now that Marge Tamberson's teaching which involved following prescribed lessons to determined outcomes was not a novel situation but rather the norm. What happens to how one thinks when getting the "right" answers is rewarded, whereas more novel and/or inaccurate attempts at thinking are punished?  Our desire to be right may well be undermining our need to think. What happens to the quality of thought when students watch teachers year after year mime the language of some other as they read from prescribed curricula? What do these actions teach? What exactly is being learned in such daily exercises?  What is being modeled about thought and thinking?

I'm curious what you think about this.