Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"With Literature and Justice for All" Workshop Videos

Dear friends,

I presented a workshop called "With Literature and Justice for All: Teaching Virtuous Reality with American Literature for 4th-8th Grades" the 4th Annual Books & Beyond conference. I've got four video clips linked below, as well as handouts and links for on-line study guides.

Workshop notes...

With Literature and Justice for All:
Teaching "Virtuous Reality"
with American Literature
in the 4th-8th Grades

What do stories teach? 
  • Stories capture our interest, stir our imagination, and engage the heart.
  • Stories teach us to ask, "What would I do if you found myself in this scenario?"
  • Stories teach, by positive and negative examples, how to handle situations and challenges in life. What are the consequences of each decision? (Noble action can lead to some unpleasant results, but ultimate impact goes far beyond that if you see the long-term big picture.)
  • Stories teach us how Biblical themes integrate into history and real life situations, even in books that are not written from an explicitly Christian worldview.
  • Stories teach us how to look and understand from a different perspective. They broaden our horizons, challenge our assumptions, and help us understand other people better.
  • Stories teach us to read, reflect, and respond -- to think and do as a result of the ideas.

Recommended Resources for
American Literature & History in the Middle Grades

This is just a sample of the excellent resources available for teaching the "virtuous reality" themes in American history and literature. Many of the books are Newbery winners available in your public library. Texts, audios and videos of speeches, songs, poems, and national documents are on-line. My free study guides are available for many of these, as noted below.  You can also find publisher's free study guides for many books at www.glencoe.com/sec/literature/litlibrary/

Historical Fiction 
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare - Puritan times & witch trials (Free Study Guide)
  • Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes - Revolutionary War (Free Study Guide)
  • Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink - pioneer days and prejudice (Free Study Guide)
  • Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt - Civil War from both perspectives  (Free Study Guide)
  • Turn Homeward, Hannalee and Be Ever Hopeful, Hannalee by Patricia Beatty - Civil War and Reconstruction as told from perspective of young displaced Southern girl
  • Sing Down the Moon by Scott O'Dell - Indian resettlement
  • Strawberry Girl by Lois Lensky - early 1900's cracker Florida
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and other books by Mildred Taylor - racism in 1930s
  • Words by Heart by Ouida Sebestyen -- racism, Scripture memory, forgiveness -- also DVD
  • Lights on the River by Jane Resh Thomas (migrant workers) PICTURE BOOK
  • A Day's Work by Eve Bunting (immigrants) PICTURE BOOK
  • The Blue and the Grey by Eve Bunting (Civil War) PICTURE BOOK

  • American Revolution: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson , Patrick Henry
  • Slavery, Civil War & Reconstruction: Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington
  • Socio-economic reform, Civil Rights: Jane Addams: Nobel Prize Winner and Founder of Hull House  by Bonnie Carman Harvey, plus Jacob Riis, Susan B. Anthony, Frances Willard, Nellie Bly, Sequoyah, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mary McLeod Bethune
  • In God We Trust: Stories of Faith in American History by Timothy Crater and Ranelda Hunsicker -- short, readable biographies of American’s Christian leaders in one volume.  
Speeches and National Documents  
  • "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death" by Patrick Henry (Free Study Guide)
  • "I Have a Dream" by Dr. Martin Luther King (Free Study Guide)
  • "The Gettysburg Address" by Abraham Lincoln
  • "The Declaration of Independence"
  • "The United States Constitution" 
Patriotic Songs and Poems 

Check http://www.poemhunter.com/ for these and other titles.
  • "My Country 'Tis of Thee" by Samuel Francis Smith
  • "The Star-Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key
  • "Battle Hymn of the Republic" by Julia Ward Howe
  • "Barbara Frietchie," "Expostulation," and "To William Lloyd Garrison" by John Greenleaf Whittier
  • "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus, inscribed on the Statue of Liberty
  • "I Am An American" by Elias Lieberman
  • Best Loved Poems of the American People compiled by Hazel Felleman

Anthologies: The Children's Book of Virtues, The Book of Virtues and The Moral Compass edited by Dr. William Bennett - rich treasuries with selections of stories, essays, poems

Parent/Teacher Book: Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child’s Moral Imagination, by Vigen Guroian (doesn't cover American historical literature)

Community Service Opportunity: Want action and not just reading about virtuous reality? Check out www.OrlandoChildrensChurch.org and make a difference in your community serving kids from inner city Orlando. OCC meets on Saturday mornings in suburban Maitland and is a life-changing place for young people and adults to volunteer. High school students can also get their Bright Futures volunteer hours there.

"Virtuous Reality"

The reality is that life isn't always fair or pleasant, but we can choose what to believe, what to say, what to do. We can live a "Virtuous Reality" no matter what is going on around us and make a real difference. Otherwise, as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We will have to repent in this generation for not merely the cruel words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”

Wisdom & Understanding ~ discernment to know what is TRUE and how to apply it to life; listening to others to find out what (and why) they are thinking and feeling; getting the whole story without bias; respecting other perspectives that may differ from your own. See Proverbs & James 1:5-8; 3:13-18. You can't believe everything you see or hear. Many people are ignorant and/or deceptive. Many are also biased and cast an unfair light on the opinions of others, leading to prejudice and discrimination. Not only this, but there is an information explosion with TV, Internet, newspapers, magazines, and more. What is true, real, important and relevant?

Integrity & Honesty ~ doing & saying what is right and true, no matter what ~ knowing & following convictions even at great cost. See 2 Corinthians 1:12, Ephesians 4:25-28. We often have to stand alone. We also have to overcome the desire for ease, popularity, wealth that might tempt us to compromise.

Courage ~ bravery & valor in the face of physical limitations, opposition, difficulty, or danger. See Joshua 1:9, Hebrews 11 and 1 Corinthians 16:13. We are not promised an easy life in Christ. Our ultimate safety is in heaven, not on earth. It takes faith in God's care for us to dare to stand firm and risk danger for justice and mercy.

Compassion ~ ability to notice another's need, show mercy, and do something to alleviate suffering and/or bring joy. See Psalm 112, Colossians 3:12-14, James 2. People are hurting now more than ever, but many don't show it or we don't know them already. Have we isolated ourselves from suffering by apathy or ignorance?

Justice ~ not only treating others fairly, but working for truth, liberty, and equity in the society and culture as a whole. See Isaiah 58, Amos 5, Micah 6:8, and Matthew 23:23. Many people are only out for themselves, willing to cheat, lie, slander, steal, exploit, and even murder to get their own way. Imagine living in a Third World country where the government is corrupt or inept.  What will it take to maintain justice in the USA so it doesn't get that bad here and so that we can continue to set an example of liberty to the rest of the world?

Peacemaking ~ seeking to extend peace to those who oppose us, as well as mediate between others (individuals and/or groups) in conflict. Also, preventing conflict from happening in the first place. See Matthew 5:9, Romans 12:9-21, 1 Peter 3:8-12. War, gangs, and lawsuits are daily news. Conflict is an inherent part of human nature. Much of this is due to selfishness, but also plain misunderstanding and ignorance certainly factor in too.

Patience ~ self-control when tempted to be angry, endurance when tempted to quit, the willingness to wait when tempted to demand what we want right now. See Proverbs 15:18, 16:32, 19:11, Romans 8:18-30. We all want it "yesterday if not sooner!" This is the age of instant gratification, and much injustice occurs simply because we have not learned to wait and to control our selfish impulses.


Just a few trivia notes on the videos...

The background noise is from a workshop in the next classroom.  Apparently Debbie Strayer's class enjoyed her humor!  She's a great inspirational and educational speaker, and it was an honor to be presenting at the same conference as her. (Note: Debbie passed away suddenly in July 2013. You can read a tribute here.)

A big thank you to Christina Mitchell, my teenage helper, who agreed to video the workshop for me.  I only told her where the record button was on the camera, and she took it from there!  She's got a good steady hand!

I referred to another keynote speaker, Jim Weiss.  I  really appreciated his story telling workshop and his session on heroes.  The man has an amazing grasp of how to make history come alive, but you don't have to hear him in person to benefit from this since he has dozens of story sets on CD. Check out his web site: www.greathall.com/

Despite the fact that I mentioned Quakers quite favorably several times, I am not one!  (I attend Lake Baldwin Church, a small Presbyterian congregation.)  I did, however, want to give you the 17th verse to John Greenleaf Whittier's poem "Expostulation." 

Rise now for Freedom! not in strife
Like that your sterner fathers saw,
The awful waste of human life,
The glory and the guilt of war:'
But break the chain, the yoke remove,
And smite to earth Oppression's rod,
With those mild arms of Truth and Love,
Made mighty through the living God!

Another quote I couldn't quite remember and didn't have in my notes is by John Ruskin (1819-1900), English writer, art critic, professor, reformer: 

The entire object of true education is to make people
not merely to do the right things, but to enjoy them;
not merely industrious, but to love industry;
not merely learned, but to love knowledge;
not merely pure, but to love purity;
not merely just, but to hunger and thirst after justice.

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