Equity & Inclusion Newsletter
April 2021, STAFF Edition 8
Read Aloud Video: Autism Acceptance Month - We hope you share with your students!
April is National Autism Acceptance Month! Did you know Autism Acceptance Month first began in the year 1970? Also, each year, on April 2nd, we honor World Autism Awareness Day, an internationally recognized day which began with a resolution by the United Nations in 2007.
The whole month of April was formerly known as Autism Awareness Month, but there has been a push from the autism community to move away from awareness and to acceptance. You can read more about that from the Autism Society here. In the US, the prevalence of autism in children is 1 in 54 as of 2020, according to the CDC.
We know our words matter. The word “awareness” means to have knowledge about something, while the word “acceptance” means to be welcomed, and admitted into a group. This change is important. We want our Region 15 community members to experience acceptance, not just to be aware of one another. Throughout this reading of A Friend for Henry by Jenn Bailey, illustrated by Mika Song, we will focus a bit on awareness, because it is always important to keep learning and knowing, but we are most interested in promoting acceptance, and igniting positive change so that our world is more inclusive in everyday life of individuals with autism.
Our guest readers in this video include two teachers from our Special Education department from MES, Mrs. Funderburk and Mrs. Perreault!
From [A Friend For Henry], © Author [Jenn Bailey] Illustrations by [Mika Song]. Used with Permission from Chronicle Books, LLC.
MMS Staff on World Autism Awareness Day
We Need Diverse Books is an organization committed to creating a world in which all children can see themselves in the pages of a book and is well worth following! (Photo Source: WNDB)
The episode on Autism & Communication from Word of Mouth features an interview with Alis Rowe, who not only lives with Asperger’s syndrome herself, she’s also written about 20 books on the subject.
Click here for a list of more podcasts and/or specific episodes related to autism.
Missed the STEM Professionals Panel event live? Watch below!
Tribury Reads Together: It's not too late to register! All students in grades 6-12 and adults are invited!
After a community wide vote, Trevor Noah's Born a Crime (and young adult companion text) was the inaugural winning title for our communities-wide read! Registration is open, and all interested 6-12 grade students and adults are invited to participate. Register here.
Tribury Reads Together was created by a group of community volunteers to bring together the communities of Middlebury, Southbury, and Woodbury to read a book and learn about the different aspects of the American experience. For our first theme, we have chosen the experience of being Black, and TRT plans to organize biannual reads that explore other themes such as the experiences of white people, Asian/Pacific Islanders, LatinX people, indigenous peoples, LGBTQ+ people, women, people with disabilities, religious minorities and other strands of the diverse American population. For more info, you may read this article which appeared in the Voices newspaper on 2/24 or visit the Tribury Reads Together website.
Recent Work: Elementary Spotlight
Interdisciplinary English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Artistic Expression Lesson
The read aloud text featured in this lesson, The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard & Oge Mora, is a beautiful picture book that is sure to inspire all who read it. It also faces truths about the reality of Mary Walker’s life, and of so many others in our nation’s hard history, in a developmentally appropriate manner for even our youngest learners.
When teaching and learning about multiple eras and cultures, it is important to focus on similarities with students’ lives before moving to discuss differences. Learning about “cultural universals” such as art forms, group rules, social organization, basic needs, language and celebrations helps students to recognize that people are bound together by similarities regardless of group membership. In the case of this lesson, students were encouraged to consider the cultural universals of freedom and learning in the context of Mary Walker’s lived experiences.
When students appreciate commonalities, they are also less likely to express fear or stereotypes about members of other groups. This approach also helps students to build empathy, an essential skill for social and emotional development (Teaching Hard History, K-5 Framework). In this lesson, students first define their own conceptions of the the themes of freedom and the spirit of learning from this text. What is it like to be free? What is it like to learn something new? How do these two themes--freedom and learning--go together? Students responded to these questions in collaborative conversations.
Then, the students each used information gained from illustrations and words to demonstrate thematic understanding and expressed their understanding through collage in the style of the award-winning illustrator, Oge Mora. The students responded to the question "what is a part from the text where Mary Walker deeply experienced freedom?" In doing so, students expressed why they thought this part represented freedom, and how freedom and learning go together in the part they selected. If you'd like to enjoy this book, you can watch a read aloud video here or check it out of one of our local libraries.
Day of Silence: April 23
The GLSEN Day of Silence is a national student-led demonstration where LGBTQ+ students and allies all around the country—and the world—take a vow of silence to protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ people in schools (GLSEN, 2021).
Ramadan: April 12-May 12
2. If you do have Muslim students, reach out to families to wish them a happy Ramadan and see if their kids are fasting. If they do fast, you may say things like "I'm sure you're excited to be celebrating Ramadan by fasting this year" or "What are you looking forward to eating for iftar?"
3. If fasting, make sure there is a place they feel comfortable with during lunch or snack. Ask the student(s) what works best for them. Some students may still prefer to be with peers at lunch, while others may feel more comfortable in the library, for example. If a student is not fasting, don't ask them why. Just be positive about their choices!
4. PE teachers: talk with students to see what they're comfortable with.
5. Note that standardized testing and testing in general can be challenging. Try to make it early in day if you must test.
Build Community Understanding: Book Recs for Ramadan
- The Gift of Ramadan
- Lailah's Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story
- Night of the Moon
- A Party in Ramadan
- Drummer Girl
- Under my Hijab
- Mommy's Khimar
- The Proudest Blue
- Like the Moon Loves the Sky
Also, here's digital media content from PBS Learning Media which promotes understanding and is told from perspective of a young, Muslim-American girl.
Staff Learning Opportunities
- K-pop and Racial Justice: Global K-pop Fandom Dynamics and Asian American Activism, April 20, 7:00 pm
- Quality Standards for Inclusive Schools: A Working Session to Assess Current Status and Identify Priorities for Change, SERC, April 22, 10:00-3:00
- Trauma Informed Learning & Teaching for Classroom Teachers, Safe & Sound Schools, April 22, 3:30-5 pm
- National Antiracist Book Festival, Boston University Center for Antiracist Research, April 24, 9:00-6:00
- The 'How-To' for Successful Secondary Transition for Students with Mental Health Issues, SERC, April 27, 9-10:30am
- From Hate to Hope: A Journey of Redemption, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CT, April 28, 7:00 pm
- Celebrating Black & Brown Motherhood, Abolitionist Teaching Network, May 6, 8:00 pm
- Dismantling Systemic Racism: 2021Virtual Conference on Race, Education, and Success, State Education Resource Center (SERC), May 7, 9:00-3:30
- Teaching about Juneteenth with Children's Books, Lee & Low Books, May 12 4:00 pm
- Art teachers! Behind the Scenes: Exploring the Environments of Edo Japan through the documentary Edo Avant Garde, May 15, 9:30-11:30 am
- Prevention, Wellness, and Healing: A Symposium with a Youth Perspective, SERC, May 20 9:00-2:00
- Summer virtual institute for teachers: Holocaust Testimony and Historical Comparisons, for 6-12 teachers, Yale, August 16-18 *Register by April 30
- Human Geography of East Asia: Contemporary Views, July 19-23, 10:00-12:00 pm
- Teaching Black History Conference, Carter Center for K-12 Black History Education at University of Missouri, July 23-25
- Walking the Tōkaidō: Self-Guided Multi-Disciplinary Experience, K-12 Educator Professional Development Opportunity, June-August 2021