For the past few weeks, the ELA team at my school has been implementing a new poetry and vocabulary school-wide program. Every week, all students in the building are introduced to the same poem and three new vocabulary words that are loosely connected to the poem. As the week goes on, we read, reread, reread again, annotate and discuss the poem. We also study the vocabulary words, the connections they have to the poem, and how to use and understand the words in a variety of settings. Some of the words are extremely important academic terms that will help them navigate difficult assignments and test questions. Others, are simply fun, unique and more complex words that boost their vocabulary!
This week, we read the poem "Speak Up" by Janet S. Wong. This poem discusses the issues of race, cultural identity, and stereotypes in out society. Here is a link to the poem.
In addition, we also discussed the word heritage. Besides this being the name of our school, it is also a very interesting concept. We were able to make great connections between this term and the poem in our class discussions. I also asked my students to write about an aspect of their heritage that they were particularly proud of, interested in, or thought others should know more about. So, students created a blog to share some of this information. If you're interested, their blogs are posted under the "My Kiddos" tab on my blog.
Some students brought in foods, pictures, money, artifacts and games... But most students wrote a blog post about their own heritage.
I also shared some details about my own heritage. This came at a great time since I just celebrated the Jewish high holidays Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I was out of school these days. When I returned, I was met with many questions from my very inquisitive group of students. For most of them, I am the first Jewish person they have ever met. This is one of many reasons why I love working in Berwyn! I enjoy exposing my students to new perspectives (not just my own) and experiences. Some people may feel uncomfortable in this position, but I feel honored! I have only been met with honest interest and kindness when teaching students about my heritage.