Tasting History: How to Teach Immigration to a Class of Immigrants

by Jessica Lander, Facing History and Ourselves

In my US history classes this fall, we’ve been exploring the journeys of immigrants who came to these shores early in the 20th century. We have listened to accounts from Ellis Island and examined Emma Lazarus’ inscription on the Statue of Liberty.

As I searched for the unit’s final project, I found many proposed activities that began the same way: “Have your students imagine they are immigrants coming to a new country.”

Here I am in luck. Most of my students won’t have to “imagine.” I have a classroom full of experts.

The students I teach hail from 39 countries. Their immigrant stories are just as diverse. I have students born in Thai refugee camps; students who have escaped war in Iraq; and students who have flown from the bustling cities of Brazil in search of economic opportunities.

Immigrant and refugee students bring a wealth of knowledge, skills, and experiences to our classrooms — not to mention the perseverance it took for them to get here in the first place. But too often, our approach to these learners focuses on the one thing they often lack: English. In the academic hierarchies of high schools — AP, honors classes, college-level classes — English learners often sit on the bottom rung.

It’s obviously true that these students need to master English to thrive in American colleges and professions, but we’re missing something important when we focus so intently on their deficits. We’re overlooking how much they have to offer.

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Black Lives Matter Week in D.C.

Attention Educators in the Washington D.C. area!

You are invited you to endorse and participate in the D.C. area Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools from February 5-10, 2018 to bring social justice issues into the classroom and empower students of color across the D.C. area.

D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice,  Center for Inspired Teaching, the Washington Teachers’ Union, D.C. area educators, and community members are collaborating on D.C. Area Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools. This week of action builds on the momentum of National Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Our Schools campaign taking place in cities across the U.S. to promote a set of local and national demands focused on improving the school experience for students of color.

Each day will explore two to three of the Black Lives Matter movement thirteen guiding principles. In school, teachers across the district will implement Black Lives Matter Week of Action curriculum designed for pre-K through 12th grade classrooms. In the evening, there will be events for educators, students, stakeholders, and community members to actively engage in the movement.

The goal of the Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools is to spark an ongoing movement of critical reflection and honest conversations in school communities for people of all ages to engage with critical issues of social justice. It is our duty as educators and community members to civically engage students and build their empathy, collaboration, and agency so they are able to thrive. Students must learn to examine, address, and grapple with issues of racism and discrimination that persist in their lives and communities.

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Civil Rights Movement Teaching Institute

EVENT DETAILS:
When: July 9-27
Where: Duke University, Durham, NC
Stipend/Award: $2700 (The stipend is intended to help participants cover travel, housing, meals, and basic academic expenses)

Application deadline: March 1st

This summer teaching institute was designed by a collaborative team of scholars, veterans, and educators from Duke, the SNCC Legacy Project, Tougaloo College, and Teaching for Change. Participants (classroom teachers in grades 7-12) will learn the bottom-up history of the Civil Rights Movement and receive resources and strategies to bring it home to their students. They will have the unique opportunity to learn from the people who made the civil rights movement happen, and from the leading scholars of the era. Three key narratives will serve as the focus of this institute:

  1. The movement thrust forward its leaders, not the other way around.
  2. The tradition of protest grew out of a long history of activism in the black community.
  3. Grassroots activism was the major engine that led to legislative reforms.

>> Learn more and apply

Human Rights Innovation Fellowship

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is inviting applications for its Human Rights Innovation Fellowship on the topic “Resisting Criminalization.” Individuals or non-profit organizations with an innovative project that is relevant to the fellowship’s theme can apply.  In addition, advocacy organizations, academic institutions, research centers, grassroots organizations, and UUSC partners may apply for the fellowship. The fellowship will provide funding up to $25,000.

Application deadline: January 17

The fellowship proposal should address a major challenge facing individuals and/or communities who are criminalized in the  United States. Criminalization refers to policies and practices that stigmatize, scapegoat, and profile whole communities as “criminal” or “terrorist.” UUSC’s primary goals in this campaign are to advance community protection strategies and expanded sanctuary, decriminalize poverty, and advance restorative justice.

>> Learn more and apply

HRE USA at 8th International Human Rights Education Conference in Montreal

Twenty members and advisors represented HRE USA at the International Conference on Human Rights Education in Montreal in early December.  Now in its 8th year, this conference has grown from a small, rather traditional gathering of academics and representatives of Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOS) (e.g., the Council of Europe, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) to become a global forum for the multifaceted HRE movement. In addition to academics and IGOs representatives, the 300 participants from 58 different countries included a rich diversity of NGOs both large (e.g., Amnesty International, Soka Gakkai International) and small (e.g., Boat People SOS, Defensoria del Pueblo Ecuador, the Ugandan Peace, and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls of Canada), foundations and institutes (e.g., The Raoul Wallenbeg Institute, Open Society, Danish Institute for Human Rights), artists, teachers, and many undergraduate and graduate students.

This year’s hosts, the Canadian HRE group  Equitas, made special efforts to ensure that the conference format promoted interaction among this eclectic gathering of educators. Thanks to a conference app, everyone could pose questions to plenary panels electronically and communicate with each other via an on-line directory of all attendees. All of the plenary sessions, photos, and conference program can be viewed for free online here.

Workshops and plenary panels reflected the conference theme of “Bridging Our Diversities.”  Among HRE USA presenters were the following (HRE USA members in bold):

  • Kristina Eberbach, Glenn Mitoma, Kristi Rudelius-Palmer, and Sandra Sirota presented on “New Frontiers in Interdisciplinary HR Programs,” which examined the important influence of universities and colleges on HRE.
  • In “Data Collection for HRE in High Education as Part of Preparation of Mid-term Review Report of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR),” Felisa Tibbitts joined Glenn Mitoma and Kristina Eberbach in to report on the methodology developed by the University of Connecticut and Columbia University for the determine the degree and types of infusion within pre-service training for teachers, social workers, and the military.
  • Kristi Rudelius-Palmer joined Barbara Weber, Global HRE Director for Amnesty International in addressing “Can the Impact of Educational Tools in Non-formal Settings Be Measured?”
  • Kristi Rudelius-Palmer, Glenn Mitoma, Carolyn Rapkievian of the National Museum of the American Indian, Mirelle Lamontagne of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and Rebecca Norlander presented in “Museums: a Space for HRE in Action.”

 (lLeft to right: Kristi Rudelius-Palmer, Glenn Mitoma, Carolyn Rapkievian, Mirelle Lamontagne and Rebecca Norlander)

During the conference, participant experts were called upon to respond to specific questions relevant to Human Rights Education worldwide.  Below is HRE USA’s own Nancy Flowers responding to the question: “why we should teach human rights in the United States?”


You can see the full series of these videos on the Equitas facebook page here.

In 2019, ICHRE will be in held in Sydney, Australia. HRE USA members are encouraged to consider submitting a workshop proposal.Please check the HRE USA website for updates! We hope to see you there in 2018!

Media Literacy Course: Using film to bring the world into your classroom

Do you want to learn more about integrating film into your lessons to inspire student discussions and learning on global issues? SIMA Classroom has launched a new Media Literacy Course for educators on Participate’s online, collaborative professional development platform.

Based on SIMA Classroom films and resources, this self-paced course will give you an opportunity to take a closer look at documentary films to explore the impact of visual storytelling to communicate human rights topics; and guiding you through activities that will make it possible to seamlessly integrate film into your lessons. Cost: $25.

>> Learn more and register

Bring the New Zinn Education Project Organizer to Your City

The Zinn Education Project has recently hired a full-time Education Project organizer for the 2017-2018 school year. The new organizer, Adam Sanchez, is an editor of Rethinking Schools and has taught high school social studies in Portland, Oregon, and New York City over the last six years.

The Zinn Education Project wants to send Adam to your community to offer workshops that help teachers better use our people’s history resources and to knit together a face-to-face network of social justice teachers.

>> Learn More
>> Request a workshop