Our national standards and many of our local frameworks call for teaching for Social Justice. From Cassandra Glynn, Pamela Wesely, and Beth Wassell I learned that stating up front an enduring understanding would help to guide my social justice units. This time I decided to look to Teaching Tolerance for a little additional help and was able to select the following enduring understandings:
- Everyone has multiple identities.
- Peoples’ identities are similar in some ways and different in others.
- It is important to see my identities as well as the identities of others in the stories I read.
You can see the lesson on Discovering my Identity on the Teaching Tolerance site.
And Teaching Tolerance informed my essential questions…
- What do stories teach us about identity?
- What makes an identity?
- How are other characters in stories we have read as a class similar to and different from me?
... as well as some of the activities I incorporated in the unit.
Then I shared my unit with a couple colleagues. One guided me to rely more on the target language in my instruction and the other helped me to portray diversity from a lens that is empowering and not pejorative.
In these lessons I try to make transparent for students how to use tools to deepen their observations and therefore their understanding. These tools are 1. Reading strategies (accessing prior learning, cognates, using images and being persistent), 2. Referring specifically to the text to answer questions 3. Using critically minded questions to further understanding.
Here are the teaching slides to go with the unit.
Can Do Statements
- I can say whether or not I liked a text.
- I can say how characters in books are the same or different from me.
- I can answer requests for basic information about myself.
- In my own and other cultures I can identify some texts that reveal a stereotype or exaggerated view of a culture.
Homework during the unit. Here is a book for students to read Venue de Loin, a few pages every evening for homework during the unit.
Each day begins with a few questions for discussion to get to know each other better. The teacher teaches the sentence starter to answer the question and possible different answers that the students might want to express. This teaching of vocabulary is building toward the writing and speaking at the end of the unit.
Day 1 Previewing vocabulary
Hook: Song that speaks of tolerance Je suis comme toi
Invite one student to project their screen on the white board. They will operate the activity but all students can participate. Lead them to play Je suis comme toi Lyrics Training Slide 2
Chorus from song Slide 3
Interview and explanation of song Slide 4
Explain that they are from Madagascar Slide 5
Day 2 Reading Strategies — Poem and Comic strip
Comment t’appelles-tu? D’où vient ton prénom?
Warm-up Discussion: Talk with your students about their identities and what makes them who they are. Teacher takes notes on a side white boarf. Qui es-tu? Sentence starters on slide 9.
With the Jamboard presentation of well known characters from books, brainstorm words in French that identify them. Share the presentation on Classroom and ask students to post stickies to describe one of the characters they know. Point out that work is anonymous. Briefly highlight stereotypes and caution against making assumptions or judging people based on a single characteristic. For instance, being a girl doesn’t necessarily mean you like to play with dolls; being a boy doesn’t necessarily mean you like to play sports. Evaluate descriptions for stereotypes.
Grammar: Use slides 11-12 to explain the spelling changes used to describe boys versus girls. Comment on grammar for those who are gender neutral.
Discuss reading strategies:
- Look for words you already know
- Look for cognates
- Use the images to help you
- Don’t give up – keep trying
The two readings for today are meant to be done quickly, as they are warm-ups for what comes next. We want to show students that it is ok if they can’t translate every word of the reading. And, that it is good to approach a text by reading for general understanding as opposed to translating the whole text.
What do we know about the narrator?
Day 3 Identity and Race — Poem
Dans quel pays es-tu né?
D’où viennent tes parents?
Fill out Identité
What makes one different from others, refer back to our conversation at the beginning of the unit.
What defines who you are? To what groups do you belong?
Look at posters Ce sont tes droits slides 14-15 and discuss
Read Droit à une identité slide 16 and discuss
Why is it important to have an official identity? Why might you need one? Why should it be a right? Is access to resources or power linked to the social construct of who a person is perceived to be? When?
Go over the anti-bias text dependent questions
Read À mon frère blanc
In English have students ask questions from the list of anti-biased text dependent questions
Other students answer
Teacher records on a side whiteboard the students’ answers to questions so class can have the notes to refer to later
Day 4 Cultural Identity: Senegal
Stations day: The teacher will assign groups and will give each group a station where they will start. In their assigned group, students will work through the station and move on the next one.
Here is a document with links to everything you need. The first station is a reading about Senegal with questions to answer on a Kahoot, the second is two EdPuzzles, the third is writing a paragraph about the country of Senegal, next students speak with the teacher about their free-time activities and lastly students compare their own culture to the culture of Senegalese students.
Day 5 Ethnicity — Excerpt from a novel
As-tu des frères et des soeurs? Qui d’autre est dans ta famille?
Qu’est-ce que tu fais pour ton anniversaire?
Define Race for students. Define Ethnicity. Is one a better term to use than the other?
Your race and ethnicity are one aspect of your identity
Explain who Senghor is
Listen to children’s book of his poem Homme de Couleur slide 18
In pairs, fill out questions and discuss
If useful, as a class return to the anti-biased text dependent questions
Discuss how stories are pathways to increase our empathy for others.
Present Je suis amoureux d’un tigre with the fiche
Read Extrait Je suis amoureux d’un tigre
In pairs, answer Questions
As a class, in English have students ask questions from the list of anti-biased text dependent questions.
Homework: Moi en dit mots
I first show my model. Ask students to go to Nuages de mots and write a paragraph in French that describes their identity or refers to groups they are in that describe their identity.
Day 6 Immigration — Song
Qu’est-ce que tu fais pour le Halloween?
As-tu un animal domestique? Lequel?
Teacher reads the script that tells the story of the song, stopping at the end of each paragraph
Students draw illustrations to the story that they hear in this form
Teacher hands out script for students to read to themselves and finish off the work
Students listen to the song slide 20 and watch the video
Go over the homework for the unit on the book Venue de Loin, reread the book aloud.
Watch the video and do this sheet.
Homework: Journal entry, Mon identité
Show the students my journal entry slide 21 on my identity and ask them to write one of their own.
Day 7 Evaluation of texts
Qu’est-ce que tu aimes manger?
Qu’est-ce que tu aimes faire comme loisir?
Look back over the different forms that we saw: comic strip, 2 poems, narrative writing, 2 songs and 2 Childrens’ Books. They all appear in Google Classroom with other books we have read as a class this year. Choose one to review. Write your answers into the graphic organizer. Then we will share as a class.
Review adjectives to describe people and how to make comparisons.
Ask students how they themselves are similar to and different from the characters in the stories they read. Ask how that made them feel.
Questions pour mieux se connaître slides 23-25
In pairs, students ask and answer the questions from over the course of the unit. Students complete a T-chart in their notebook and report to the class how they are different and similar to each other.
Day 8 Assessment
Interpersonal TALK Assessment: Ask students to have a conversation in groups of six where each one of them speaks five times. Have them ask and answer questions from the Questions pour mieux se connaître. Students will learn about the diversity in the class and reflect on who they are themselves to prepare for the writing assignment.
Presentational Assessment: Students write letters to introduce who they are to the French family they will be living with on exchange.
I hope that you will find materials in this post that you can include in your own unit on Identity.