Jessica Lander celebrates students' strengths, talks about using text structure to synthesize research, and self care.
As educators, we know students need to find mirrors in books. But, let's face it. Many students, especially immigrant students, never find those mirrors. As a result, they don't read. Jessica Lander has a simple solution for that all-too-common classroom challenge.
All of her students write their migration stories, which Jessica edits and publishes as books. Check out her We Are America site, if this is a project you'd like to implement in your high school. Publishing her students' work is one of many ways Jessica celebrates her students' strengths.
Need to get unstuck? Take a walk. That's what Jessica did and as she was walking, she figured out the text structure for her amazing book, Making Americans. She had done a ton of historical research, visited multiple schools, and did hundreds of hours of interviews, which she had cobbled together in a way that muddled her message and confused her first readers. But as she walked, the structure of the book: the past, the present, and the personal emerged. The rest is history.
Finally, Jessica talks about self care. Whether it's taking a walk, visiting with friends, or even something simple like treating herself to a cup of tea while she writes. In order for her students to have self care opportunities during the school day, she's created a welcoming space in her classroom complete with a herbal garden, a paper tree, and hanging butterflies. Whatever self care looks like for each person, it's something we all need more of in our lives.
For a list of over 200 carefully curated social justice titles for high school classroom collections, please contact Jessica.
In the meantime, if you're looking for two titles that will most likely have mirrors for your immigrant, high school students, check out We Are America and We Are America Too, written by Jessica's students.
If you would like to be entered to win a copy of Making Americans, please leave a comment below.
As always, many thanks to Sarah Brannen for Chalk + Ink's logo and banner.
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