In this “Inside the Writers’ Room” podcast, Lindsay Turchan and I talk with James N. Green, the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Professor of Latin American History at Brown University and the director of Brown’s Brazil Initiative. In this episode, we discuss the use of individual stories to illuminate the teaching of history. Green says:
“Individual stories help people understand larger social processes…it humanizes them.”
The podcast examines the value of using these stories to deepen student engagement while strengthening the skills necessary for good historical inquiry. Green also talks about how this approach inspired one of his students, Marga Kempner, to make a movie about the experiences of Marcos Arruda and his family during the Brazilian military dictatorship. The movie is featured in “Repression and Resistance During Military Rule,” a lesson in the Choices curriculum, Brazil: A History of Change. This powerful film is available online and can be viewed here as well.
Green is also one of the featured presenters at a Choices professional development conference, “Brazil, Cuba, Mexico: Bringing Latin America Into the Classroom” from June 29-20 at Brown.
A lot can happen in a summer. With the new school year already off to a start for some and soon to begin for others, all of us at Choices want to take a moment to recognize the many tragic events that have taken place in the past few months throughout the world. International terror attacks, ongoing wars and conflicts, violence perpetrated against U.S. citizens of color, U.S. law enforcement personnel, and LGBTQ people in the United States, and other acts of violence and hatred have defined this summer, for many, as one of tragedy.
At Choices, knowing how to respond to acts such as these challenges all of us, and certainly there is not a perfect way to do so. But we also believe that these are issues that are on the minds of many students and teachers. Some teachers may find that the classroom can serve as a space in which students and teachers alike may begin to process and heal from these events by thinking critically and engaging one another in discussion. But at the same time, locating resources for facilitating these conversations is not always easy.
In response to this need, we wanted to remind teachers of resources that we offer, including two of our recent free, online Teaching with the News lessons—Black Lives Matter: Continuing the Civil Rights Movement (updated August 2016) and our Resource Guide on the Orlando Nightclub Shootings (June 2016). In addition to these resources, you may also find our blog post Approaching Race in the Classroom, Actively useful. In addition, Choices offers the curriculum unit Responding to Terrorism: Challenges for Democracy.
In our recently updated lesson on the Black Lives Matter Movement, students work in groups to review an interactive timeline of black activism in the United States from the 1950s to today and identify core themes of the civil rights and Black Lives Matter Movement. In our resource guide on the Orlando Nightclub Shootings, we have compiled an annotated list of sources that offer suggestions for various classroom approaches to the many dimensions of the nightclub attack in June 2016. Finally, in our blog post on approaching race in the classroom, we provide a wide array of information on relevant resources for teachers looking to discuss race in their classrooms.
We hope that these resources prove useful as you navigate these difficult—but important—events and topics in the classroom throughout the upcoming school year.