Arlene is on the SCENE

Posts Tagged ‘diversity

Capture1Arlene On the Scene was recently named “Staff Pick” by Teaching Tolerance, an amazing organization dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children.

The Teaching Tolerance staff regularly reviews culturally aware literature and resources and selects the best picks for professional development and teachers. Arlene was reviewed in the Spring 2014 issue of the Teaching Tolerance magazine: “Filled with humor and heart, Arlene On the Scene is a great addition to any upper-elementary classroom.”

Teaching Tolerance is part of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization that was founded in 1971 and has a long history of fighting racism, discrimination and exploitation. Through far-reaching legal action and fierce advocacy, the SPLC has dismantled institutional racism in the South, reformed juvenile justice practices and shattered barriers to equality for women, children and people who live with disabilities.

The SPLC has reached out to the next generation through Teaching Tolerance, its award winning program that provides educators with free classroom materials to teach students the value of tolerance and diversity. These materials have earned two Oscars, an Emmy, and more than 20 honors from the Association of Educational Publishers.

The Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation is honored to be a part of this long tradition of breaking barriers to provide access to justice and equality for all. We hope that Arlene On the Scene increases awareness of the experience of children who live with disabilities and teaches all to embrace the beautiful differences among us.

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Wow this article on “language prejudice” was really interesting. It comes from that great organization, Teaching Tolerance, which offers amazing educational resources for creating classrooms that fully appreciate and embrace diversity.

Dialect-MapIn both Arlene On the Scene and Arlene, the Rebel Queenwe poke fun at the accent that can often be heard in my home state of Rhode Island. Even in my author bio I say that Marybeth “fixed” my speech!

But according to this article, there really is no one way to speak, or accent, the English language. In fact, by acknowledging the rich dialects that exist in our country, we begin to connect language to culture. When we do that, we again demonstrate to students how to embrace differences, rather than “fix” them.

Teaching Tolerance offers some suggestions to incorporate language diversity into the classroom. First, we can expose students to language differences. We do try to recreate the Rhode Island dialect in the dialogue of our books, although it’s tough to do phonetically. Maybe it’ll help when the audio version comes out…:)

Second, we can address language assumptions as they happen. I have a distinct memory from my childhood being told by my New Yorker cousins that I “talk weird.” I also remember shrugging and saying, “No. YOU talk weird. What’s with all those RRRR’s??” But in our classrooms, when these kinds of comments are made, we can educate students about dialects, what they are, where they come from, and we can make the connection to cultural and geographic differences.

Finally, we can include language when we teach generally about cultural differences, particularly within our own country. When we learn about our own history or study different regions of the U.S., we can investigate the language as well, along with other customs and traditions.

Teaching about language differences is another way to model and guide students toward a perspective which allows for celebration of difference rather than one which focuses on defining the norm.


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Arlene On the Scene is proudly sponsored by the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation.

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