Arlene is on the SCENE

Posts Tagged ‘education

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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It’s here, our REVISED Teacher’s Guide! Many teachers have found our Teacher’s Guide helpful to incorporate Arlene On the Scene into their language arts curriculum, from grades three to five. Some have asked us whether more printable worksheets were available–now they are!

In addition, many have pointed out that the activities and worksheets in the Guide naturally align with a wide range of Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts. We thought it made sense to include these standards within the Guide as well.

Check it out, let us know what you think!

Revised teachers guide cover

Arlene has been on the road again!

We visited fourteen schools in our home state of Rhode Island in early April. Wow, was it good to go home again! I even went to my alma mater, Sherman School. And there was that red bench, the one Arlene sits on near the end of Rebel Queen when she has a heart-to-heart with Mr. Musgrove. While the bench has been painted, and the seats in the auditorium are now cushioned (cushions! I had to sit on hard wood, for hours, with no bathroom breaks…), my former school has the same warm feel, the same welcoming vibe.

Kizirian Elementary, Providence

Kizirian Elementary, Providence

We simply had a great time in Rhode Island! From Narragansett to Quidnessett, Coventry to Providence, Warwick to Johnston, we met amazing students at every school. We even ventured into southern Massachusetts, to Braintree and Arlington. Students at every school jumped into a great discussion of empathy, self-image, and the power of activism. Through these conversations, and an amazing video of eight year old Jennifer Keelan climbing the steps of the US Capitol, we learned that one person, one kid, can indeed change the world! We spent some extra time with kids at Kizirian Elementary in Providence–they had great questions! Hope their biographies are coming along. We also want to send a big thank you to Wakefield Books for hosting a book signing with Grace and Marybeth!

Carol, Marybeth and Grace at book signing, Wakefield Books, RI

Carol, Marybeth and Grace at book signing, Wakefield Books, RI

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Margo Toth, teacher extraordinaire, and Carol Liu

We also just got back from Illinois–Naperville to be exact, just outside of Chicago. What a great town, great kids! And I had the pleasure of meeting in person a wonderful teacher I’ve heard about for years, my husband’s fourth grade teacher from Madison, NJ. There she is, still in the classroom, still inspiring young minds. Her second graders had just finished reading Arlene On the Scene and had many insightful questions and responses.

At every school, students and teachers learn about Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and the challenges our friends and families face each day. They begin to understand why the mission of the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation is so important. More broadly, we highlight the power of empathy and the beauty in not accepting, not tolerating, but embracing differences.

Still left on the schedule this year: New York, Philadelphia, and Dallas. Be sure to let us know if you’re interested in a free author presentation! Details can be found on our program brochure, and you can email us any time for more information!

Carol with Elmwood 3rd GradersIMG_0979IMG_0965DSCN0158

If you can believe it, we still have over thirty schools on the schedule for us to visit between now and the end of the school year. Amazing!

We’ll do a week in my home state of Rhode Island in April, visiting twelve schools from South County to Providence. We’re even going back to my old elementary school, Sherman. Can’t wait!

After Rhode Island, we’ll be Illinois, then New York, and finally, Dallas. In between I’ll be going to schools locally in Maryland and Washington, DC. Each school brings a new energy to our School Outreach Program, and every new reader is one more partner in our mission to find a cure for Charcot-Marie-Tooth.

DSCN0139I had a great time today at Stonegate Elementary in Colesville, MD. I even met the president and vice-president of the SGA. Arlene would be so excited!

The only thing that was disappointing about today’s visit was that no one told me it was Crazy Hair Day! But there was great school spirit in the library, with some pink locks and spikey ‘doos.

I hope the students I see like the book, and don’t forget that the sequel, Arlene, the Rebel Queen is now available! And once you’ve read the books, think about posting a review on Amazon, for Arlene On the Scene or RebelI know reader reviews always help me choose my next book!

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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.

There is a movement afoot to make disability rights and disability history part of the standard curriculum. I just came across an e-petition that is making its way around the United Kingdom. California recently passed the Fair Education Act which requires the history curriculum to include contributions made by people with disabilities. As with other minority groups who are sometimes misunderstood and mistreated by the majority, teaching everyone about the history of all groups will only enhance understanding and respect.

And Marybeth and I were thinking the same thing! As you’ve read in previous posts, we’re currently editing the sequel to Arlene On the Scene. It should be available next spring (we’ll keep you posted!). One of the things we wanted to include in this book is a taste of disability rights history, so that students will be encouraged to research this topic and learn more.

Check out the sneak peek from Arlene, Rebel Queen below! (It’s unedited; please excuse any mistakes!)

Here’s the background: Arlene and her classmates were assigned a project in which they had to research a law that changed our country. Arlene read about the Americans With Disabilities Act. Of course, for her report, she did things a little differently. You know how Arlene loves to rap…

But first, after lunch, it was time for Jessie and me to do our presentation thing.  And my thing is poetry.

I smiled at the class, then went right into it.  By the end, they were all clapping out a beat for me!

“Let me tell you ‘bout a girl named Jennifer Keelan

You know she can’t walk, she got around by wheelin’

She made the prez and politicians feel a funny feelin’

When they watched her climb a hundred steps, all while kneelin’

At the top she gave a paper to some pol-i-ticians

Saying we got rights in spite of a disease or condition

Her picture made the papers, but in the late edition

And she forced the president to make a quick decision

Before the ADA was passed, it was a-okay

To treat disabled folks like they should just be locked away

But now malls, halls, clubs, buses, and cafes

Have to open up the doors that once blocked our way.

The words ‘We the People’ aren’t a mystery

We have rights, freedom and of course, liberty.

By making civil rights include disability

The ADA marked its rightful place in history.”

 


Free Teacher's Guide! REVISED for Common Core!

Teachers: Print script from "Rebel Queen" for classroom.

Download Extension Activity here

If you've heard of Bill and Pete, click here

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

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