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Teacher Lesson Return to "Raising My Voice Against Racism"
Raising My Voice Against Racism
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ELA Literacy & Social and Emotional Learning
Embracing Your Roots

Story Summary: Winnie is Chinese and falls victim to acts of microaggression and overt racism, causing her to feel ashamed of her culture and shun certain parts of it. After moving to a new school, she develops more pride in her roots and begins to speak out against the kind of toxic discrimination she faced in the past.

Lesson Objectives and Common Core Connections
• Students make personal connections to a text and successfully participate in story-based activities and discussions.
• Students will respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives (CCLS SL.1).
• Students will read and comprehend literary nonfiction proficiently (CCLS R.10).
• Students will write routinely over extended and shorter time frames for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences (CCLS W.10).

Before Reading the Story (10 min)
This opening activity will activate background knowledge to boost reading comprehension and set the emotional tone for the story.

1. After welcoming the group, explain that they will be doing an activity where they will talk and hear different perspectives on a topic.

2. While the group is still seated, review the activity procedure. Tell the group:
• "We will form two standing circles, one inside the other.”
• "Each person will be facing a partner.”
• "I will read questions aloud and everyone will have a chance to respond while their partner listens.”

3. Divide the group into two. One way to do this is to have group members count off 1-2. (If you don’t have two equal groups, you can join one.)

4. Clear a space in the middle of the room and have the 1s stand and form a circle facing outward.

5. Have the 2s stand and form a second circle around the first one, facing inward.

6. Explain to the group that the person they’re facing will be their first partner.

7. Tell them:
• "Partners will take turns responding to a question that I ask.”
• "When one person speaks, the other listens.”
• "Each person should speak for about one minute. Make sure both of you get a chance to talk.”
• "When time is up, I will ask one circle to rotate and everyone will have a new partner.”

8. Pose this question to the group:
"What does it mean and look like to show pride in your culture?"

9. After two minutes are up (you might want to use a timer to keep track), ask the inside circle to move two people to the right while the outside circle stands still. There should be new pairs formed.

10. Repeat the process using these other questions:
"Why can it sometimes be hard for people to accept certain parts of their culture?”
"What are some things that people do when they want to hide parts of themselves or their culture from others?”

11. Have everyone return to their seats.

12. Time permitting, lead a discussion by asking group members to describe some of the good points that were made during their pair conversations. They can also share times they agreed or disagreed with their partner, new ideas that their partner gave them, or questions they still have about the topic.

13. Thank group members for sharing.

During Reading (20 min)
By practicing active reading strategies while reading aloud and discussing as a group, students build comprehension and support fluency.

1. Introduce the story (see the summary above).

2. Share the expectations for a group read-aloud: volunteers take turns reading aloud as much or as little as they would like. As the group leader, you may stop periodically to discuss or check in on active reading by asking students to share their responses to the story.

3. Tell students they will practice an active reading strategy called reading for a purpose. This will help them read for a purpose and be prepared to use the text in later activities.

4. Reading for a purpose directions: Ask students to read for moments in the text when the writer shows pride or shame in her culture. When she shows pride, students should write a “P” in the margin. When she shows shame, they should write an “S.”

5. While sitting in a circle, read the story aloud together. Stop to discuss periodically, supporting peer-to-peer talk and non-judgmental listening. To do this, ask for volunteers to share what they wrote a “P” or “S” next to and why. Alternately, you can pose an open question such as “What stands out to you in this section and why?”

6. Next, ask the group to further consider these questions:
• What do you think about the way the writer dealt with microagressions and racist comments she received because of her Chinese identity?
• How important is it for a person to show pride in their cultural roots?
• o you personally connect with the story? How?

After Reading the Story (15 min)
During this post-reading activity, students will make connections, build understanding, and rehearse positive behaviors.

1. Introduce this activity by saying to the group:
• "Now that we’ve read the story, we’re going to do a journaling activity about staying connected to our cultural roots.”
• "This is a chance to express your thoughts and feelings without worrying about spelling and grammar.”
• "There are no right and wrong answers to these questions, just your own ideas.”
• "If you don’t know what to write or get stuck, just keep your pencil to paper and keep writing the last word you thought of over and over until a new idea comes.”

2. Then read the prompts aloud or write them on the board or chart paper:
What is a cultural identity you have other than “American?”
How do you or others show pride and stay connected to these cultural roots?
How important do you think it is to stay connected to your cultural roots?

3. Explain that in addition to writing, group members may create a list, draw, or represent their thinking in a way that works for them. They may do whatever helps them express their thoughts and feelings.

4. Pass out journals or notebook paper and pencils, if you haven’t already.

5. Give group members about eight-ten minutes to write. Move around the room offering encouragement and support.

6. When eight-ten minutes are up, tell group members to finish their last thought and put their pencils down.

7. Explain to the group that they are now going to do a Pair Share. Tell them to turn to a person next to them and take turns sharing parts of their responses that they feel comfortable sharing.

8. Each member of the pair should take about a minute to share. Cue partners to switch roles after the first minute. Use a timer or wait until the hum of conversation dies down before getting everyone’s attention.

9. Lead a discussion by asking group members to describe some of the highlights of their pair conversations. They can share connections they made with their partners’ writing, new ideas that their partner gave them, or questions they still have about the topic.

10. Thank group members for sharing and listening.
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