Category Archives: Uncategorized

LGBT Issues

What did you find surprising or shocking about the discussion of gender identity and LGBT issues? What evidence to you see at CHS of either discrimination or acceptance?   How does this discussion connect to human rights?  React, Reflect, Respond.

Remind yourself of powerful statistics by revisiting our class collection of data here.

Templates and Rubrics

Our first major task to wrap up the semester is to decide what work you will be putting into your portfolio and then revising it to make sure it aligns with the 3R Example Rubric. If you have any questions about how to interpret the rubric, please check in with me or Ms. Vasquez. Even though I am not quite healthy, I respond to emails. You should have 5 different 3R essays written in your portfolio by the end of the quarter.

The next task is to create a policy brief to impact an issue that YOU deeply care about.  Details about the deadlines will be forthcoming, but I wanted to make sure both of these rubrics/templates are easy to find. There is a html file of a template on how to write a policy brief, and a template of how you should present your work.  If you need some examples, just google search “policy brief” and whatever topic you are focused on. For example, google “policy brief food safety”.


policy brief template

Action Research: Interview Assignment


To make sure the lunch action project is moving in a direction that our community wants, we need to get feedback from the community.  Please make 3 different lists of interview questions for interviews that you will be conducting with three different people. These interviews should be designed to get more information to help you change school lunch. You could plan to interview an older family member or friend of the family, the cafeteria lady, the principal, or someone from one of the organizations that you have been researching.

Each list should begin with a paragraph explaining:

  1. Who you are planning to interview
  2. Why you are planning to interview them
  3. What you want to learn from your interview
  4. How you will use the information from the interview

Then you should have 10 interview questions.  Be sure to your questions do not have a simple yes or no answer. Check Purdue for other question making tips:

Good Luck!

Evaluating Plans for Change

This week we will focus on our plans for impacting the lunch program.  Today we analyze our own plan and the roles we are going to play in it with the following questions:

  1. Draw a diagram of all the different parts of the action plan, and who is responsible for each part. Hint: Everyone in the class should be represented at least once.
  2. What type of action is this plan? How do you know if it is an example of Individual, Participatory or Critical Citizenship?
  3. What needs to happen to make this action an example of critical citizenship?
  4. How does the role that you will play impact the overall plan? What would happen to the action plan and the members of your team if you did not follow through with your role?
  5. What are the steps you need to take to carry out your role? What can you do if you get stuck at a specific step? ex. If someone hasn’t responded to the initial email or phone call for contact?
  6. How can you make your role and where you are in the process clear to the rest of your team and the class? Create the tool necessary. (contact charts, checklist, or other graphic organizer)
  7. How else can you build in accountability for yourself and other members of your team?

Wednesday, we will have the opportunity to meet with Marli Gordon of Nepali for Nepali.

Listen to her recent interview to learn a little more about her work:  We will make sure we are a knowledgable audience by filling out the Advocacy group research sheet and preparing questions.

Youth of Color Matter! and how it could turn into #AllYouthMatter

This week the class will be going to the University of Virginia’s Youth-Nex conference which is focusing on how “Youth of Color Matter: Reducing Inequalities through Positive Youth Development” To prepare for the trip students had to focus on the panelists for the conference and the organizations that they represented to create some questions. We talked about what makes a good research question is the amount of depth you can go into trying to answer it. We try to steer away from asking things that could be answered easily by a web search.

We then focused on the questions that interested the class most: Why should we care about youth of color and how does focusing on youth of color affect students who are not “of color”? Our class talked about the assumption that students are only”normal” when White; how White is technically a color too; and how White is not just about skin tone but also about culture. We went over what the positive and negative outcomes that can happen for youth who do not identify as “of color”. The positive side was open-mindedness, but the perception of negative outcomes was much longer. Our class worried that students who didn’t identify as of color would feel: left out, ignored, threatened, like minorities were taking over, and like they were losing their privileges. The class concluded that there is a lot of diversity among White students that can get erased by an idea of a collective “normal White”identity, just like there can for students identified as Black, Latino, etc. The idea that youth of color matter isn’t to diminish how much other youth matter, but to focus on the ways that youth of color are being systemically left out of educational considerations. I was really proud of my students for having such a tough discussion, and hope that the parallels between this discussion and debates around #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter are understood.

We finished up the discussion by talking more about what it means to be a citizen. The student answers boiled down to individuals who belong (or feel they belong) to a place (community, group, nation) and are granted special rights and responsibilites along with their citizenship status. We didn’t focus on legal definitions, and returned to the Personally Responsible Citizen, the Participatory Citizen and the Socially Justice Oriented Citizen from last week’s typology. Students were asked to use React, Reflect, Respond or the 3R method to respond to the idea of citizenship.

We ask that students “React” to the concept of citizenship and what kind of citizen they self-identify as. In the first paragraph, you will describe the citizenship typology and how/what it make you think, feel, consider. You will then write a paragraph to”Reflect” on why you thought, felt, and/or acted the way you did. Finally you will “Respond” by discussing what action you might take (or have already taken) moving forward to either change your type of citizenship or maintain it.

Classroom Reality Check

There comes a point in every school year where I find it important to come together as a class to discuss expectations. Especially in a class that has as much wonderful diversity as ours, the reality is there can be a really wide variety of experiences academically, socially & environmentally that all contribute to differences in how much work students can do.

So then the question becomes, how do we as a class have realistic expectations so that students don’t feel overwhelmed or bored? How do I honor the challenges that some students face without letting students take advantage of the democratic classroom structure and empathetic teachers?

My solution is to have an in-depth discussion during class to set goals, rules and penalties for completing work. Then we create  academic success plans for every student and their situation. Each student can make their own copy of the document, and fill it in accordingly. Though many have expressed concerns to me about the amount of time this takes, putting the time in on this issue at the beginning of the year makes the class work better in the long run. We also create some options for what people can do instead if they feel unable to complete work and how groups can maximize on member strengths so that everyone does there part. Looking forward to engaging in this incredible class-building exercise!

Thinking more deeply about citizenship identity

We have been thinking a lot about the impacts of ethnicity on education in class by watching at Precious Knowledge; this week we are moving to think more about the concept of citizenship and belonging being impacted by ethnicity because of ascribed identity.  As this week will be the anniversary of 9/11, this Ascribed Identity Lesson Plan evolved from The Power of the Story: The Voice of Witness Teacher’s Guide to Oral History and our university students.  The goal is to build a sense of the impact that people’s presumptions about identity can have on other people’s sense of belonging and citizenship. Reading bell hooks’ belonging: a culture of place reminds me that the sense of belonging can be an entitlement; can citizens who don’t feel like they belong and aren’t treated like they belong experience the full expression of their rights?

The Identity Box worksheet was created to go along with this lesson. I used excerpts from Patriot Acts, a book in the Voices of Witness series because they tell stories that we don’t often hear about 9/11 that were collected using oral history.  We hope that students learn more about history as a living entity that has myriad perspectives from techniques like oral history.  As teens in New York, Adama’s story is about one 16-year old Muslim girl and Gurwinder’s Story is about a 19-year old Sikh boy.  Looking forward to comments from the class about how this lesson worked!  Let me know if you think there is anything that could be improved in the future.

Following up on Precious Knowledge

As always, Precious Knowledge, is a great film to watch with the class. This year, we are going to use the film to help set up the first research project for the students, as well as introduce some critical literacy skills.

Over the summer, The Atlantic, released an article on the impact the struggles of Tucson United School District had on ethnic studies programs across the nation. Students read the article in small groups and used this form to begin to analyze the article. We really want to model the act of critical literacy so that ALL students are able to recognize their ability to critique information.

After this activity, the students will be getting into small groups to launch their first group webquest mini-research project.  The students will go to this site to learn more about some of the issues in Precious Knowledge. Then they will form groups and fill out this worksheet together before deciding which issue they would like to do further research on.

Once they select which issue they want to focus on from the list of options on PBS’s website, they will be able to think through and create a a research topic and question ready.They will then use this Mini Research Plan Project rubric to create projects. This rubric is intentionally broad, we are interested in seeing what our talented and creative students come up with!


Welcome to the 2015-2016 school year!!!

Welcome to the 2015-2016 School year!  This year represents the third year that we have run the class and, though every year is different, it is clear that we are starting to hit our stride more concretely.  We are looking to develop a workbook from the final tweaks of this year’s class, so look out for more news on that soon.The third year will see less comprehensive university support, as only one doctoral student will be working with the class, which will help make sure that our curriculum is possible without an a lot of teaching assistants.

We begin this school year really focusing on team building and concrete systems of interaction and presentation . There will also be more digital literacy work incorporated into the curriculum from the beginning, as well as more project based learning, to help ground the class in the potential for impact that they have.

We start off the year watching the film, Precious Knowledge, which has been a consistent favorite in previous iterations of the course. The film really helps model the potential for a different type of classroom with real world impacts, and it often speaks to the experiences of our students. It also represents an opportunity to discuss the climate at our school and what our students want to change about it in a meaningful way.

After our first short research project to examine the impacts that the struggle for ethnic studies in Tucson Arizona had, we will begin to think more about what citizenship really means. Look forward to our next post, and please don’t hesitate to contact us if you are interested in our curriculum, collaboration, video conferencing with the class, or getting involved in any way at