Saturday, April 28, 2007

Reaching Learners Beyond Primary Grades


Reaching Learners Beyond Primary Grades

Americans killing Americans is always a tragedy. Children murdering children is heart-wrenching. The heartbreaking truth is that such aforementioned atrocities are plastered on the covers of our papers and television newsflashes daily—many citizens have become jaded and simple change the channel or turn to the next page. I honestly feel we involved with this blog (and the greater mission of Peace Games) realize this truth and fight everyday for positive change. A quick reference to a popular song, dance, or chant may be all it takes to initially hook a young learner so hope should never be lost.

These days, the message culled from the streets is one ridden with a deep, dark oppression—a suppression of the mind as well as the body. It is not always cool, down, ill, ‘hood, or “real” to be an active learner— a lifetime of first hand experience coupled with observations in classroom settings has ingrained this reality into my consciousness.

The art/craftsmanship of the professional educator is to dig beneath the “shell of socialization” that may pose as a stalwart in this process of cultivation. Many current students within my school community are heavily influenced by the local street culture surrounding them. As a member of the community, I am very familiar with the realities of street violence, socio-economic plights, and “un-traditional” family situations.

The culture-to-content connections facilitated through literature, music, social issues, scientific endeavors, dance, and physical activities within the classroom are no longer “enrichment” or supplemental. On the contrary, across this land teachers must consider these activities as avenues or pathways necessary to reach our youth.

Engage your students with what children know and understand: entertainment. For example, conduct a puppet show, MC a poetry slam, assign a poetry or songwriting task, or allow a traditional or "street/popular" dance to count towards a social studies grade. By no means is this list definitive so be creative! With academic integrity always in mind these "hooks" can snag even the most recalcitrant learner. Good luck!

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