e-book No More Us and Them: Classroom Lessons and Activities to Promote Peer Respect

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Physical description xxiii, pages : illustrations ; 24 cm. Online Available online.

Teaching Respect and What that Actually Means

Full view. Education Library Cubberley. R64 Unknown. More options. Find it at other libraries via WorldCat Limited preview. Bibliography Includes bibliographical references p. Teachers must help their students acknowledge that they belong to a group together, that they are part of a "we" or "us, " and that any differences-divergent talents, backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and skills-only make "us" stronger and better. No More "Us" and "Them" delineates what steps educators can take to create an atmosphere where adolescent students feel accepted, included, and valuable to themselves and to their peers.

This starts by giving the class a list of broad project ideas, asking each student to choose one. Be sure to provide a rubric for each project that clearly defines expectations. With these benefits, students may actually look forward to taking on new projects. You were probably too upset to review mistakes and feedback, and so are your students when they see the same. So, consider avoiding standard marks on informal and formative assessments. Instead, just state if a student did or did not meet expectations. Then, provide struggling students with a clear path to improve.

When strugglers are confident they understand key concepts, encourage them to tell you. Provide a new assessment, allowing them to prove their competency.

Give students who struggle to process your content opportunities to try educational technology that adapts to their needs. For example, Prodigy is a math video game that adjusts its content to help students address their trouble spots. It also offers feedback to help them solve specific mistakes, as they answer questions that use words, charts, pictures and numbers.


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While running learning stations or a large-group activity, pull each student aside for a few minutes. Ask about:. Note their answers to come up with activities and approaches that engage them, thereby limiting classroom disruptions. Avoid hesitation when you must address bad behavior, especially when a student breaks a documented rule.

Failure to act can result in more poor behavior, leading to needlessly-difficult conversations. Use peer teaching as a classroom management strategy if you feel your top performers can help engage and educate disruptive and struggling students. Peer teaching activities, such as pairing students together as reading buddies, can be especially beneficial for students who suffer from low confidence and poor interpersonal skills. You can teach this viewpoint by building a culture of learning from one another rather than a culture of passing judgment on differences in values and beliefs.

There are a wide range of classroom activities that can help students recognize the essential humanity and value of different types of people. Another thing you can do is show your students everyday photographs of people of different ethnicities, shapes, sizes, and garb. This gives students the opportunity to see people that look very different from themselves and their family engaging in the same types of activities that they and their family participate in. This can help humanize types of people that your students have never had an opportunity to meet.

Welcoming guest speakers into the class that hail from differing backgrounds and have all made a positive contribution to important fields can also help dispel any preconceived notions that students might possess about the relative competence and value of people from different cultures. That, to me, is one of the overwhelming strengths of the book.

A new metaphor. But is that the best metaphor for Twenty-First Century thinking? An orchestra comprises numerous instruments, but together they make music that none could replicate alone. Many other metaphors are possible, too—America as a puzzle, bouillabaisse, painting, collage, crayon box, garden, and so on. Your students might come up with their own ideas, as well as their own notions of how they fit into the larger picture.

Seeing America as a garden, one student imagined herself as a bee, another as a butterfly, another as a shrub sheltering the flowers from the sun. As Roessing so fittingly points out, America has grown remarkably in complexity since the melting pot metaphor first took hold: Our great grandparents may have shared one nationality, ethnicity, and religion, but we, their descendants, are typically of multiple nationalities, ethnicities, and religions Whole-class collaboration.

Any complex whole-class project will work here, but the one she recommends is the Home Front Fair because it involves engaging multiple intelligences. Think about it. Students know one another the way you might know new neighbors who moved in a few weeks ago and share your passion for gardening and bridge.

No More "Us" and "Them"

Time to find out. Gradually, each member of the village contributes something small—a carrot here, an onion there—until the stone soup turns into real soup. The Stone Soup tale is the basis for small-group collaboration, a concept embraced in many classrooms, and now in many workplaces as well, where employees are often assigned to teams for purposes of completing a project. The idea is not that everyone does a little of everything, but rather—like the stone soup villagers—that each person makes a significant contribution based what he or she does best.

Roessing outlines several options for small-group collaboration, including my favorite the design of a town, city, village, or hamlet of any type.

Each student then assumes the role of a prominent member of the town, and creates an original short story with that member as a protagonist. Combining their individual stories, they build a book, with each student not only serving as a contributing author, but also taking on a specialized writing task—document designer, illustrator, dialogue coach, reviser, editor. Other small group collaborative projects involve the creation of newspapers, podcasts, radio shows, and so forth.

Small-group collaboration intensifies the mutual respect and interdependence that is established through whole-class collaboration. Students find that teamwork builds learning. Yes, there are times not to work together—during testing, for example. Students quickly learn to respect that. But teaming is not cheating. On the contrary, it is a simultaneously efficient and demanding approach to learning, in which everyone must contribute by speaking, listening, sharing knowledge, and coaching. No sitting on the sidelines. Desks in rows can encourage aloneness and silence.

Desks in circles cannot. Oh, and as a teacher, you get to participate, too. One first step is to fill out a personal survey, asking what you know a lot about with respect to things like—. Together, you and your students can brainstorm additions to this list. Expertise is sometimes highly focused. Roessing has discovered that students in a writing class like to know the go-to person for advice on something as precise as comma placement, effective use of a spell-check program, proofreading, crafting attention-getting leads, coming up with vivid details, or scanning the Web.

In math class, there might be an expert in long division, square root calculation, graph interpretation, or a hundred other things. Parallel areas of expertise exists regarding any content area, and knowing them gives immeasurable self-esteem to the identified experts, while providing a built-in reason for others to seek them out. Every Day Is Multicultural Day. Many schools have a Multicultural Day or Multicultural Week, when the customs, foods, clothing, and attributes of various cultures are celebrated. She also points out that such celebrations often highlight differences rather than commonalities: We eat this; they eat that.

Multicultural literature is a natural entree into a broader world. She goes on to cite just a few examples that probably not many students would correctly match up: coffee from Yemen, the calendar from Egypt, gunpowder, printing, and stirrups from China, dentistry from India. Did you know that there are over 1, variants of the Cinderella tale from around the world? Roessing takes advantage of this dazzling fact by having students, in groups, read several variations of their choice and compare and contrast them using a wide range of criteria.

At the very least, students have a chance to see how certain motifs—strong heroine, impossible task, a social occasion and the opportunity it provides! Roessing has done most of the work for you. Many ways to read. Once upon a time, teachers assigned books and students read them. Everyone read the same book and answered the same questions—all posed by the teacher, who presumably knew the right questions to ask.

Reading has changed significantly. Though students still read some books as a class, they also read in small groups or with partners, often choosing books from a list. In addition, they read articles, short stories, poems, essays. And many come up with questions they believe are significant, and answer them by writing essays and stories of their own. Older students read or listen to picture books, recognizing that increasingly, selections from this genre are aimed at their age group. Discussions of issues like bullying or body image may spill over into health classes, while biographies may be discussed in history or math, and books detailing the struggles of disenfranchised groups may become part of the social studies curriculum.

Consider how much understanding is gained when five members of a book club read different books on bullying, then discuss how various authors treat this subject.

How Peer Teaching Improves Student Learning and 10 Ways To Encourage It

The richness of such discussion is impressive, and the resulting presentation to the class as a whole is infinitely more interesting for other students than hearing about one book in isolation. Resources are categorized: picture books, short stories, essays and poetry, novels, memoirs, nonfiction self-help, periodicals, and books about games.

Peers Supporting an Inclusive School Climate

Ending the year—and coming full circle. Lesley Roessing describes a classroom scene in which a student comes across a photograph of a young woman wearing a series of neck rings to stretch her neck. By the close of the year, teachers are more likely to hear words like different, interesting, unusual or unique —in place of the pejorative weird.