Friday, July 4, 2008

Looking forward to July 7

Hello Everyone,

I feel very privileged to be joining this group and just by reading your posts am already broadening my understanding of common threads that connect 20th to 21st century genocides. I've just finished reading Diane Ackerman's The Zookeeper's Wife, a true story set in WWII Warsaw. When I saw Larry's introductory post, I clicked on the links to learn more about Irena Sendler. The following day, on a flight home (Placerville, CA) from San Antonio, I delved into Chapter 18 of Ackerman's book and discovered that Irena Sendler was also a frequent guest of the Zabinskis, Warsaw's Polish Christian zookeepers, who managed to save over 300 Jews, hiding many of them in empty zoo cages. I stand back in awe of rescuers and upstanders.

As a teacher (currently providing tech integration support to teachers in a K12 district), I struggle with the question of what's the appropriate age to introduce the topic of genocide. I feel that 4th grade is too young, yet as I visit classrooms, I still see on display the same type of California Mission projects that I had to do as a 4th grader (except now you can purchase put-together models at stores such as Michaels. Although I still see the ever-popular sugar cube constructions). I have also noticed that our district's adopted thematically organized language arts textbook includes a selection from Anne Frank's Diary...within the "Survival" theme!?

George Mayo, an 8th grade teacher from Maryland, started the Many Voices of Darfur Project last year, which involved students as young as 3rd grade. I think maybe the key piece of exposing students, especially young students, to genocide is providing them with opportunities and venues for taking social action. With that in mind, I'm thinking of building a unit of study for high school students around Ishmael Beah's A Long Way Gone - Memoirs of a Boy Soldier.

I'm starting to bag my bag and will make room for my walking shoes. In Placerville (in the Sierra foothills, 1/2 way between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe), I enjoy starting my mornings riding the bike trail. When I'm somewhere without my bike, I love to start the day with a walk - and am hoping some of you are also up for early morning walks:-).

See everyone soon,


Larry Neuburger said...

Thanks for the post. I am really excited to meet you and talk about the various technology related things you do.
I also appreciate the links you included with the post. I'll add them to the links bar.
It is amazing how we heard about Irena Sendler. I'm not sure, but I think the girls might have got the idea to research Irena while reading The Zookeeper's Wife.

See you Monday.

GailD said...

I'm looking forward to meeting you too, Larry, and starting a dialog on the possibility of new technologies as tools to transform the hearts and minds of our students.

Mr. Maerke said...

I was under the impression that The Zookeeper's Wife was fiction, but well researched, similar to David McCullough.