Week 3 in Distance Learning 2020


I’m still tired. This week, it’s mostly due to poor planning on my part, and things in my family life. Class, that’s settling into a routine. I’m making adjustments as I get feedback from my parents. Mostly it’s about giving kids “breaks” but also transition signals and check-ins to get them or keep them on track. I’m running classes about 30 minutes of direct instruction, then 30+ minutes for them to work independently finishing up work based on what I taught. The direct instruction includes Nearpods or discussions (small group or whole class).

A notable recent moment in the classroom was during the novel I’ve been reading to students, Rick Riordan’s The Red Pyramid which is part of his Kane Chronicles series based on Egyptian Mythology. I picked the book out because I wanted to find a fun book to start out the school year, and I wanted to have a non-white character, since most of those types of books used in elementary, and most of the novels that have traditionally been used for fourth grade have white characters. I had read the novel to my son when he was younger (but older than 9). The story starts with an explosion at the British Museum, where the Kane family was visiting after hours. Dad is African American Egyptologist. The kids are mixed, their mom was a white British anthropologist, who sadly has died under mysterious circumstances. The police start to question the kids, and the boy (who looks like dad) is getting a harder time than the girl (who resembles her late mom). The characters notice the difference, but even before that, one of my students raised their hand to bring it up.

The student believed that this was because they were Muslim. I had to explain to them that although that would be a problem, it was because of their race, as they are not Muslim and as we’ll find out later, they’re actually practicing a religion that pre-dates Islam, although Islam is the dominant religion in present day Egypt. It was a good intro to world religions, and discussion of racial profiling.  I wasn’t sure how well this novel would work, because it does have a white author, but he actually does an okay job exploring issues of colorism that happen in mixed families. Since a lot of the African American families in our school are mixed, it’s a good topic to explore.

Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

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