Freebie for Teachers: “Shame” by Dick Gregory

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As a celebration of making a few dollars on Teachers Pay Teachers I wanted to extend a free offer to other teachers who may be looking for materials to use with their students.  I’m a teacher in an urban school district where most of my students are considered to be “at risk” and have a range of special needs.  Many have experienced struggles which have prevented them from being successful in their academic life and are over-aged and under-credited.  I have always been passionate about finding materials for my students where they are able to connect with as well as learn from.

A few years ago I stumbled on a short story, “Shame”, by Dick Gregory and knew immediately that I would try it out with my students.  The story was a huge success and I have used it every year every since!  It is perfect for apprehensive readers and can be easily aligned with the Common Core Standards and skills needed for the English Regents Exam.

“Shame” by Dick Gregory can be used to:

  • teach how words can be powerful and have a lasting impact on others
  • teach literary devices such as characterization, setting, conflict, symbolism…
  • African American Literature/History—did you know Dick Gregory was an African American who ran for President of the United States in 1968?  He died this year (a week after teaching my summer school classes about him and his work).

Feel free to make any edits needed to differentiate for your students.  All materials are scaffolded to increase student achievement.

  1. Shame pre-reading words have power quotes (I laminated these and provided each group with a quotation to discuss and then present to the class as a pre-reading activity)
  2. Shame warm-up
  3. Shame-by-Dick-Gregory (short story)
  4. Shame Literary Chart
  5. Shame Dick Gregory Group Poster Assignment
  6. writing response pre assessment for shame (aligned with Part 3 of the English Exam)

Please share this post with any teachers who may find the materials helpful and/or check out my Teachers Pay Teachers account for other products.

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Crystal

Post was inspired by “The Daily Post” prompt: Exceptional

The Power of Music: Positive Vibes Soundtrack

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A fun project my students and I worked on was to create a soundtrack of songs that immediately put you in a positive mood.  Students have a host of struggles which spill over in their academics, and since they enjoy listening to music I challenged them to create a list they can turn to or should I say, turn up (ha…see the puns there) if they feel a bad mood creeping in.

Ohhh…one more rule was that the artist had to be African American (or write lyrics touching on African American issues) because I currently teach African American Literature and this was a way I could incorporate additional learning.

I have found starting class off with a positive song improves the environment of the classroom…this is not always an easy task as I teach in an inner city school. (Students are ages 16-21).

Have you heard?  What we put in our bodies affects us—we have the power to decide if that is for the positive or the negative.  We discussed that when we are in a bad mood we tend to gravitate to and listen to music that makes us even more angry and upset.  Being mindful about what you are listening to can change that.

Our Positive Vibes Soundtrack

Pharrell Williams “Happy”

Pharrell Williams “Freedom”

Kirk Franklin “Smile”

Tupac “Dear Mama”

Tupac “Keep Ya Head Up”

Tupac “Changes”

Alicia Keys “Superwoman”

Alicia Keys “Girl on Fire”

Tasha Page-Lockhart “Fragile”

Bob Marley “Buffalo Soldier”

The Temptations “I got Sunshine”

Otis Redding “Dock of the Bay”

Meek Mill “Traumatized”

Jussie Smollett Conqueror

Monica “Angel of Mine”

Comment:  What song immediately puts you in a good mood?  What song would you add to our list?

Crystal

 

A Part of my Heart Belongs to my Students…

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This week started a new semester teaching students…new students.  Our school is one of the few in the district with a semester based schedule to assist students on their path to graduation who may have wandered off the course for a variety of reasons.  They are able to recover credits faster which means they can get back on track to graduation.  A semester based schedule also means I receive a new class list of students in January (this week).  I realized yesterday that I’m usually a bit depressed during this time and tried to be mindful about what was causing all of this emotion to stir.

I love my students…someone once told me I shouldn’t say that, but I do…in the time I spend with them I learn so much, bond with them, care for them, and I know some reciprocate that feeling.  Some overcome so much adversity to simply come to school, so being a part of the journey to their goal to graduate is incredibly rewarding.  I prefer to teach 11th and 12th grade, but it can also come with some pains.  You bond, care, and build relationships with students in such a short time and then they are gone…some keep in touch, but the change is difficult and often weighs heavy on the heart.  How does one resist the slight depression that accompanies the change?  We (teachers) are expected to begin again with a fresh batch of students as if we didn’t lose a tiny piece of our heart…build those relationships, and watch them go…again, and again.  I will do it…because that’s who I am!

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They miss me when I’m gone…as I do them!

 

Ten things I learned from my students:

  1. up-to-date slang terms like “wavey”, “finesse”, “thirsty” or that “it’s a dub” and “lit” have more than one meaning…haha!  Ohh…and the term “corny” came back from when I was a kid!
  2. a simple hand on their shoulder or hug can calm the soul
  3. snacks go a long way
  4. That I was really rich growing up…I never remember a Christmas without a tree…we may have worn hand-me-down clothes, never ate steak for dinner, and didn’t have all the name brands, but compared to the lifestyle of many of my students I was blessed!
  5. to pick my battles and that I do not need to be in control all of the time
  6. the sloppiest handwriting can mean the deepest thoughts
  7. what a hijab is, how some observe Ramadan, and how we learn from one another when there is open dialogue
  8. that adult students do love using markers, colored pencils, and scissors…and they love receiving a paper back with a sticker on top of it
  9. students who seem tough deep down because they’ve been handed adult responsibilities just want a chance to be kids
  10. how to laugh more
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Some students have a great sense of humor!

 

My challenge for you  is to send an email to a former teacher, current teacher, school staff member, professor…update them on how you’re doing and what an impact they made.  We often wonder about students and it’s always nice to receive a positive email!

*hugs*

Crystal

 

 

Teaching: Just one of my Superpowers

I have always gravitated toward students who require a teacher who thinks outside of the box to reach their individual needs.  I have a passion for students with disabilities and/or mental health needs. I had the privilege to work for a school who also offered a residential program for students with a range of disabilities.  This school I will not name as ownership switched hands and it no longer provides the exceptional care it once did…which is one reason I decided I needed to move on…a decision that was heavy on my heart, but necessary for many reasons.  I’m digressing though.  The students were an incredibly difficult group as I had students in my room no other teachers wanted, and sadly teachers would speak up in meetings protesting the idea of having one of my students placed in their room.  Yes, my students had some severe needs, but I needed to be the one who refused to give up on them!  The one who wanted them!

I was the Special Education Teacher in a 6:1:3 classroom, which means 6 students, 1 teacher, and 3 teacher assistants.  This sounds like a cake job right?  Not in the least!  Students ranged in ages 16-21 and often displayed behaviors such as biting, hitting, kicking, spitting, punching, playing with feces (well, any bodily fluid really), intentional vomitting (sometimes then to intentionally spit it on you), breaking anything they could get their hands on, taking their clothes off, and sometimes even running out of the school and darting through the neighborhood.  We were required to perform physical interventions daily to keep students and staff safe.  Yes, the neighbors and the police were not fans of our school, which again is sad if they were able to understand why some of these children acted in the ways they did.  I love these students despite all the struggles and while I taught them they taught me.  Some were abused in ways I could never imagine, some were born with disabilities that parents just did not understand, some came from amazing families, but due to their disability behave differently than we expect.

Teaching at that school built my character in ways I never imagined until reflecting back.  I was determined to be the change, and I know I was.  On my last day two students decided to give me their medals they won in the Special Olympics (pictured above)…they will never know the impact of that gesture, as I will never know the impact I made on them.

Currently I teach English to students with a variety of needs ages 16-21.  Students include young parents, refugees, students with disabilities, students with mental health needs, and it is what I’m meant for.  Thank God for Superpowers!

One of my favorite songs to add to the theme: “Superwoman” by Alicia Keys

Crystal

post inspired by: Discover Challenge “Superpower”

Today’s post was written using my phone due to a computer issue, so please forgive any errors.