The first session provided two workshops that I simultaneously wanted to participate in, so I chose one and then went back later to catch the second. The first workshop I chose was on Culturally Responsive Literacy Practices with Dana Stachowiak, Jeanette Alarcon, and Silvia Bettez. They helped us stop to remember that some parts of culture are visible (food, crafts, clothes, etc.) while others are invisible (values, beliefs, feelings, perspectives, assumptions, etc.) We have to adjust our teaching based on cultures and values of the students in front of us. Later, while watching Kristin and Chad's workshop on Finding Empathy and Humanity Through Books and Beyond, they discussed the concept of using windows and mirrors. Windows represent our view of others while mirrors refer to how we view ourselves. My favorite part of their session was what Kristin mentioned in relation to the texts we have in our classrooms. She said that the "titles we bring into our classrooms tell a story" and I wonder what story we are presenting to our students? Does each child have access to text that represents their story? Do characters in the story remind them of their family? Culture? Are characters and events in stories perpetuating stereotypes?
Another great topic these two sessions discussed was how we can't confuse race/ethnicity with culture. Dana, Jeanette and Silvia did a fine job reminding us that being "culturally responsive" educators does NOT mean we expose our students to just holidays and celebrations from various cultures. These fine ladies also shared a wonderful chart that helped us see the progression from old school teaching, to multi-cultural teaching, to culturally responsive teaching.
In Kristin and Chad's workshop that I viewed later, they did an awesome job detailing the importance of building identity in students. They introduced identity webs, poetry, and other neat ideas such as "blog on a wall" to help students see themselves in their learning.
I had so many take-aways from these workshops and they were free!! I hope you get a moment to check one (or more!!) of them out.
I could go on and on, but I'm on my way out the door to finish up scoring ELA exams at our middle school :-)