Coming off a weekend of protesting, I find myself thinking hard about what to say to my students tomorrow when they ask me about the news. We saw some of our students at the rally at the White House today. They will want to share observations from their experience tomorrow. Students will also have questions about checks and balances since we recently concluded a unit on US Government. They will have overheard conversations between adults and understood only snippets of what was going on in the media. Where do we start?
Start with a read aloud. Ask students what connections they can make to the story. Can they make text to self connections? Model by thinking of a time you yourself were homesick or scared or missed someone. What about text to world connections? How does the story connect to events happening in the world today?
The Journey by Francesca Sanna is about a family who must leave their home and country to escape war and hopefully find safety. After you read it, talk about what the word “refugee” means. This is the book we will read aloud tomorrow. You can find more ideas for relevant picture books here. Naturally, there are many more out there- please comment below with your suggestions!
Talk about the news. I like to start with an image (works well with my concrete 5th graders) for sign in and a table for responses with two columns: "I think" and "I wonder." You can do this on a large whiteboard or piece of chart paper, or individually (or in small groups) with handouts. It helps less confident students feel ready to share their thoughts and provides you with a way to find out what misconceptions versus accurate information students have and understand. The "I wonder" column also gives you a better sense of where to go to answer all of their questions and prompts them to ASK questions, which is always an excellent place to begin.
You can find images of the protests at airports here. You could also talk about the executive order and find the affected countries (and cities protesting) on a map. Here is an article describing the current situation in the seven affected countries (with a map highlighting their locations).
Here is a New York Times article with stories of some of the humans banned from the U.S. The article also includes a short video of protests at JFK airport. My students usually like to hear stories of individual people or families as it aids their comprehension by making the situation less abstract.
Other Useful Resources
The First Amendment and Freedom of Religion lesson from Teaching Tolerance
Naturally, there are SO many directions you could go and topics to cover. These are only some suggestions for ways to get started. You know your students (and school, and families, and administration) best. If you do try out one of these ideas or have other suggestions, please comment below! We’d love to hear how tomorrow goes in your classroom.