This is such a rich episode it's near impossible to sum it up in a succinct manner. Sure, Tracey talks about organizational tools, and really let's be honest, are there any teachers who write and writers who teach out there who don't want to gush about office supplies? But that's far from all. We dig deep into accessing the subconscious and debunking historical "facts" that dehumanize people.
First, the office supplies. Okay, sticky notes and checklists, those are part of our DNA. But a think board with a QR code that you can snap pictures of so that you can access your brainstorms no matter where you are?! I mean, come on. It doesn't get much better than that.
The subconscious. How does Tracey nurture it? She feeds it regularly by exercising daily whether it's walking and yoga, or a ninety-minute ballet class. That way she never gets stuck. How does Tracey access it? She asks it for help with a specific problem, moves on, and trusts that the answer will come when the time is right.
When Tracey researched her must-have collective biography, African Icons she uncovered many fascinating facts. But they weren't all fun. In fact, one was infuriating. We've been sold this idea that before slavery, African society didn't exist, that the continent consisted of a bunch of savage hunter and gatherers. And that somehow because of this lack of society, one could understand why Europeans invaded and enslaved Africans. But the truth is Europe and Africa had a long shared history, where Europeans and people from other parts of the world, travelled to Africa to study in their world-famous libraries.
On the note of debunking historical myths, Tracey recommends Kate Messner's History Smashers series. I couldn't agree more. These titles fly off my shelves and spend the school year travelling from one students' hands to the next.
Tracey also recommends Renée Watson's Ryan Hart series because her books feel like a hug. These are great books for beginning readers with a caring, loving tone.
My favorite Watson title is Some Places More Than Others because it talks about pregnancy loss and showcases how miscarriages affect the whole family.
When Tracey delves into YA titles, she focuses on Afrofuturism and horror. She enjoys books by Tracey Deonn, Lamar Giles, and Tiffany Jackson. For YA historical fiction, Tracey suggests people read Meg Medina's Burn, Baby, Burn.
Before closing out 2022, I want to shout out Heather Kinser for supporting Chalk + Ink on Buy Me a Coffee. Heather wrote, "I just want to show my appreciation. I'm a picture book writer who discovered the podcast earlier this month, and I'm really enjoying the in-depth conversations." Thanks for making my week, Heather!
Remember, if you want to be entered to win one of Tracey's gripping books, leave a comment below.
And as always, special thanks to Sarah Brannen, for Chalk + Ink's art.
Happy listening, everyone!
It's hard to say which was more fun, talking with Torrey or reading his novels. But it's safe to say that if you're in his classroom or holding one of his novels in your hands, he has your back. Not only will he support you, but you're going to laugh a lot as you examine some tough questions.
Before I jump into the episode and the tough questions we talk about, click here to get your hands on Hands, Torrey's newest novel that releases in January. Be sure to order before January 23rd, to get a signed copy. Not only will you be thrilled to put this book in your students' hands, you'll be supporting an independent bookstore in the process. Two wins with one click!
Now, back to the content in Torrey's terrific episode. In addition to exploring tough questions in his novels, Torrey asks tough questions in the classroom. After I shared the questions I use while discussing novels, Torrey shared the questions he asks his students to think about before, during, and after his lessons:
1) What are we learning?
2) How do you know what you're learning?
3) Why does it matter?
4) What do you do with what you're learning?
Here's my question-who wouldn't want to be in a dynamic learning environment like that?
We also take a deep dive into the multidimensionality of his characters, which stems from the multidimensionality of his students and the mentors he has had throughout his life, including his beloved mother and grandmother.
Instead of titles, Torrey recommends that elementary and middle school classrooms have books by the following authors:
Kelly Starling Lyons
Tameka Fryer Brown
Gordon C. James
Charles R. Smith Jr.
During the podcast, we also mentioned Tracey Baptiste's work.
If you want to be entered to win a copy of one of Torrey's amazing signed books, leave a comment below and fill out my site's contact form.
As always, many thanks to Sarah Brannen for Chalk + Ink's podcast art.
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