Friday, September 13, 2013

Stars Upon Thars?

White Customers Only!

"But, because they had stars, all the Star-Belly Sneetches would brag, 'We're the best kind of Sneetch on the beaches.'"  -Dr. Seuss

This week, we began to read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor.  Arguably the most powerful book we will read this year, Taylor's story describes the struggle of a southern black family, the Logan's, in the Jim Crow era.  For students to fully appreciate the Logan's journey, they needed to develop their background knowledge of the South in 1933.  We began by looking at the significance of the Emancipation Proclamation as well as the 13th Amendment.  Then, students explored a document regarding Jim Crow laws and viewed a slideshow that illustrated the separate but equal doctrine.  They were given time to respond in writing and to share their thinking as they uncovered some painful truths about America's past.

You would think a read aloud from a children's book would provide some welcome relief.  Alas, it was not to be.  Dr. Seuss's classic allegory, The Sneetches, remains startlingly relevant 52 years after its original publication date.  The story takes a complex issue and boils it down with whimsical language and simple ideas.  Due to differences in appearance, one group of Sneetches ostracizes another while claiming to be better.  Kids were asked to compare and contrast the Seuss story with the Jim Crow laws, using a one-sentence summary strategy.  Those sentences served as exit slips, and it was clear they understood the connection between the two.

Next week will kick-off a sharecropping simulation.  Students will get a firsthand taste of what it means to sharecrop and the importance of owning land.  I can't wait to see how they fare!

photo credit: Image Editor via photopin cc


  1. My wife and I really appreciate the blog and how you are using it to keep us up to date with the curriculum & your teaching plan this year. It's a great way to see what Cameron is working on and it gives us the opportunity to discuss the topics with him in a more meaningful way than simply "How was school today?".

    It is also great to see how you are using different techniques, like Dr. Seuss and the simulation, to complement what they are reading. We both wish we did this when we were in school!

  2. Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my blog, Hooman. I know how those "How was school today?" conversations can be like pulling teeth, as I have had similar ones with my boys. The preprimary and lower school blogs have helped my wife and me a great deal, so I was inspired to do the same. Do you remember any of the books you read in middle school? I recall reading "The Pearl," by John Steinbeck. I hope you continue to follow our blog throughout the year. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!