IndyKids

POSTED ON BEHALF OF MONICA SHAH

IndyKids is a progressive kid’s newspaper produced by volunteers including parents, students, teachers, journalists and community activists. Formed in 2005, IndyKids’ creators believe that everything is political and that no media source comes without bias; thus, they openly label their newspaper as progressive. IndyKids aims to present an alternative perspective that is typically not found in mainstream media or other kids’ news journals such as Time for Kids or Junior Scholastic because they are backed by corporate sponsors. IndyKids provides space for issues of marginalized people including kids, people of color, poor people, and immigrants whose voices may not generally be heard in conventional news and school textbooks. The organization does not believe in “talking down” to kids or restricting certain issues from being presented. Therefore, their stories range anywhere from youth activism, labor and immigrant rights and global warming, to war, the financial crisis and same-sex marriage. Aside from news, the paper also includes entertainment, recipes and puzzles.

In addition to learning about the issues themselves, IndyKids can be used in classrooms to teach media literacy. Teachers can give students articles on similar topics from various sources and ask them to compare the views of the publications. By doing this, students can pick out biases, form their own opinions based on facts or perspectives given, and most importantly, learn and practice being critical interpreters of information, instead of being passive recipients. This is a good exercise for teachers who may receive criticism for presenting progressive viewpoints, or generally for any teacher who aims to be objective and wants their students to be critical thinkers.

While the website states that the newspaper is aimed to engage kids in grades 4 to 7, I believe that the newspaper could be used from grades 3 to 8, and may be integrated best in an English/Language Arts or Social Studies class setting. What is also unique about this paper is that kids are encouraged to submit their own articles. Teachers or parents who use this newspaper in their classroom or home can make researching and submitting articles as part of a class project. On the IndyKids’ website, there are helpful resources and guides for teachers. For example, check out the November/December 2011 Issue and Teacher’s Guide – Issue 32.

IndyKids not only helps students to simply learn about current national and international events, but it can help students develop empathy, curiosity and passion, and may lead them to becoming selfless and conscientious. Another way teachers can promote peace and social justice in their classroom, school, and community, and further develop students’ research, writing, and analytical skills, is to assign students to produce their own community-based version of IndyKids focusing on local issues. After writing the articles and publishing a class newspaper, students can take an additional step and create an action plan to bring attention to a particular local issue and/or to fight a local injustice.

IndyKids supports the community building and skill building pillars of peace education. With the newspaper, students will learn about various issues, cultures and perspectives, and are encouraged to embrace the differences and similarities they may have with the people they read about. By allowing kids to write and submit their own articles, they are able to take ownership of their learning experience and see their work being acknowledged and read by a wider audience. With regard to skill building, students are empowered to actively participate in the larger peace and social justice movement locally and globally. Through reflection based activities, students’ interpersonal and intrapersonal skills will be strengthened. Furthermore, students’ analytical skills will be enhanced through media literacy lessons. Students will also learn organizing skills as they take action and show solidarity with a particular campaign, movement or group of people.

Nonviolent Campaigns: Who, What, Where, When, How and Why

POSTED ON BEHALF OF MONICA SHAH

So you’ve heard a lot about the powers and successes of nonviolent action but are ready to move beyond teaching about Gandhi and Dr. King. Thanks to a project lead by George Lakey at Swarthmore College, there is now a Global Nonviolent Action Database that provides free access to the hundreds of cases of nonviolent campaigns around the world! The intention of this database is, “to assist researchers and activists to better understand the special features of nonviolent struggle that make it different from both violent and institutional politics.”

Lakey, the Director of Training for Change and 2010 Peace Educator of the Year, explains that “nonviolent action” is also commonly known as:

  • People Power
  • Civil Resistance
  • Satyagraha
  • Nonviolent Resistance
  • Direct Action
  • Pacifica Militancia
  • Positive Action

The database includes cases that are identified as “campaigns”, not “movements” because they consider movements to typically consist of a number of campaigns aimed at achieving large goals. Also, the campaigns researched are ones that have reached their point of completion. Each “case” is presented as a database file and narrative that describes the issues behind the campaign.

The database can be searched by country, issue, or method used. The campaigns are grouped by the following categories: democracy, economic justice, environment, human rights (religious and women’s rights), national/ethnic identity (and anti-colonial struggles), and peace. You can learn about nonviolent action that took place everywhere from Afghanistan to Norway to Zimbabwe. You can even find campaigns that occurred as early as Before A.D. in Italy to present-day in Egypt. If you are interested in learning about the larger movements, you can search under “Waves of Campaigns” to find information about:

  • African Democracy Campaigns
  • Arab Awakening
  • Asian Democracy Campaigns
  • Colour Revolutions
  • Soviet Bloc Independence Campaigns
  • U.S. Civil Rights Movement

Here is an example:  “Egyptians campaign to oust President Mubarak, 2011”

On this page you will find the time period, the description of the location, the goals, methods and classification of the case. You can also find information about the campaign’s influences, leaders, partners, allies and opponents, order of social groups and the success outcome. Lastly, everyone also has access to the sources used to compile the information to learn even more about the study!

This resource supports three Pillars of Peace Education: 1) Exploring Approaches to Peace; 2) Reframing History; and 3) Transforming Conflict Nonviolently. Students can learn how people around the world aim to achieve peace. Furthermore, they can look at history through the lens of nonviolent actions – narratives that are often left out in schools’ historical texts. Lastly, the database acknowledges that conflicts do exist, and it provides examples of a variety of methods that people use to approach conflict alternatively—nonviolently.

With regard to the uses of the database, the team included this wonderful message: “Strategists, activist organizers, scholars, and teachers will find many uses for the database, as well as citizens wanting to expand their horizons. Even before release to the public, for example, a teacher who knew the database team was using our cases to assist middle school pupils to develop plays. Any school that teaches about the environment, civil rights, or other issues may find the curriculum enlivened by sending students to the database. History students might enjoy doing the detective work of finding the hidden stories in their local area that could be developed into cases. The database also offers an invitation to geographical learning.”

I would recommend this database to be used by students starting in middle school. Though I believe that educators can incorporate this across the curriculum, it may be most welcome in a Social Studies department. The information provided can truly open students’ eyes and deepen their understanding of nonviolence, people power, and the struggle for justice, peace, democracy or human rights around the world. It may also help students to better grasp the tactics and motivations of the ongoing “Occupy” movements across the nation. The database can be utilized in formal or community education settings. It can also be beneficial for organizers of future movements to scan through this database to examine the advantages or limitations of strategies of previous campaigns.

The 2011/2012 Peace Exchange and Other Peaceful Art Projects

The Create Peace Project is a San Francisco-based non-profit that uses art and creative expression to help create more peaceful schools and give students a creative outlet and teach them peacebuilding skills.

For the third year in a row, The Create Peace Project is engaging in “The Peace Exchange”, a program that allows students from the US and Canada to exchange messages of peace with students in Ghana, Colombia, and Nepal. Students write notes and draw pictures on special post cards, and The Create Peace Project delivers the messages to partner students around the world and returns with messages from those students. Download a flyer!

From the Create Peace Project website:

“The Peace Exchange is about connection. Connecting students to themselves, their creativity, their wisdom, and their heart. Connecting students to each other, in their classrooms, in their schools, and across continents as we bridge cultural, religious, and racial boundaries to inspire and enrich the lives of all participants.

The Peace Exchange gives students a platform from which to raise their voice for peace, acknowledge and honor each other, express themselves through their art and with words with the intention that the power of being peaceful and sharing ones self with another can create a ripple of kindness, love, and possibility felt by young people around the world.”

This project is tailored toward students age 8-18, and can be integrated into a formal school setting on a class-by-class basis or through a school-wide assembly. Resources for both options are available from The Create Peace Project. The exchange allows students to participate in something national and international and creates the space for local and international dialogue about peace.

For smaller groups or informal settings The Create Peace Project has other art options available:

Banners for Peace is a collaborative painting workshop that promotes team building and collaboration through a 10-week workshop that works on the creation of a unique, giant piece of art that is later displayed in a communal area. Beyond building art skills and learning to work as a team, participants have a chance to design something that can inspire peace and create a space for peace dialogue. Download a Flyer!

For a shorter-term project or a more diverse group of participants, check out the Collaborate and Create workshop, a one-day activity that allows participants to bring together objects and art supplies to create a collection of art work through collaborative creative games and activities. One great thing about this project is that it can be tailored to include as more or less emphasis on emotional expression and community building depending on the venue or event.

These resources help to build community and nurture emotional intelligence, allowing participants to express their feelings and ideas in a safe and welcoming space and explore the meanings of peace in a community setting.

Get your school involved! Or for more information contact: info@createpeaceproject.org

Radical Math

POSTED ON BEHALF OF MONICA SHAH

It is a myth that peace and social justice issues can only be taught in a peace studies course. It is an even greater myth that there is no place for peace and social justice in mathematics, science, engineering or technology curricula. This post aims to bring attention to a resource for math and economics teachers of all levels who want their students to study issues of social and economic justice.  Radical Math is a site that contains more than 700 lesson plans, articles, books, charts, graphs, data sets, maps, and websites that will help lead students to not only understand issues of social, political and economic injustices through a mathematical framework, but also to learn how to develop just, realistic and mathematically-sound solutions.

Far too often students have complained about their required math courses and asked, “When will I ever use this?” Fusing social justice and math education allows students to be able to do more than memorize formulas and solve equations; they can use math as a tool to understand and change their society. Social Justice Math has two main purposes: 1) to use mathematics to teach and learn about social and economic justice and 2) to develop mathematical literacy and learn math through the study of social justice issues.  Radical Math resources can be utilized in upper elementary, middle, high school, and college classes. Such curriculum can also be integrated in community programs and classes geared to teach math, financial or computer literacy to citizens, immigrants or ESOL students.

Check out this guide created by Jonathan Osler:

A Guide for Integrating Issues of Social and Economic Justice in Mathematics Curriculum

http://www.radicalmath.org/docs/SJMathGuide.pdf

One relevant (and very current) topic that can be introduced and discussed in a math or economics classroom is the Occupy Wall Street and other “occupy” demonstrations around the nation protesting economic and social inequalities, corporate greed and injustices, and corruption. For example, students can learn about the Gini coefficient and how that is calculated, evaluate the disparities in income and wealth distribution, and calculate corporate taxes and profits.

On the site, students and teachers can search by math topic, social justice issue or resource type. Below are all of the searchable topics and themes:

By Math Topic: Algebra,  Annual Percent Rate (APR), Area, Averages, Bar Graph, Basic Math Concepts, Budgeting Money, Budgets, Cartesian, Chance, Charts, Compound Interest, Correlation, Currency Conversion, Data, Data Analysis, Equivalent Fractions, Extrapolation, Geometry, Graphs, Graphing, Fractals, Fractions, Histograms, Interest, Least Common Denominators, Line Graphs, Mapping, Maps, Mean-Median-Mode, Measurement, Net Worth, Patterns, Percent Growth, Percents, Polar, Polls, Probability, Proportions, Rates, Ratios, Real Dollars, Numbers, Sampling, Scatter plots, Statistics, Survey, Symmetry, Tessellations.

By Social Justice Issue: Achievement Gaps, African Americans, Banking, Criminal Justice System, Death Penalty, Defense Budgets,  Economic Development, Ethnomathematics, Environment (pollution, hunger, food and water resources), Financial Literacy/Education (saving, managing debt, paying for college, credit cards, loans, taxes), Gentrification, Globalization, GLTBQ, Health Care, Higher Education, Homeownership, Housing, Hurricane Katrina, Immigration, Juvenile Justice, Latino/Hispanic, Minimum/Living Wage, Lottery, Military Recruitment, New York, Poverty, Poverty Line, Predatory Lending, Prisons, Public Education, Public Health, Racial Profiling, Racism, Single Mothers, Standardized Testing, Sweatshops, Taxes, Teaching, Unemployment, Voting, Wars, Wealth, Welfare, Women

By Resource Type: Article, Book, Chart, Curriculum, Film, Graph, Map, Syllabus, Table, Website

If you have any ideas or have created a lesson plan or projects on a math topic related to a social justice issue that you would like to share with others, you can e-mail info@radicalmath.org.

Happy United Nations Day!

Tomorrow marks United Nations Day, the anniversary of the creation of the United Nations, and a day that we take time to look at the work of this important organization and talk about its impact on the world.

“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated in 2010: “UN Day is a day on which we resolve to do more. More to protect those caught up in armed conflict, to fight climate change and avert nuclear catastrophe; more to expand opportunities for women and girls, and to combat injustice and impunity; more to meet the Millennium Development Goals.””

No matter what age group, or what subject matter, a discussion of one of the Millennium Development Goals, can be integrated into class today. Younger grades may enjoy learning about what education looks like in other parts of the world for kids like them. Science and health classes can tackle child health, maternal health and HIV/AIDS. Economics, government/civics classes, and other social sciences may find global partnership and gender equity fitting themes for discussion. Some groups may want to find ways to live more sustainable lives or help end hunger. Find out how close we are to reaching these goals and what you/your students can do to help. Use a video/interactive media resource to add a new twist to your lesson!

Check out tomorrow’s ongoing events at the UN and promotional materials on the live webcast.

See how the UN is participating in New York City Public Schools and find examples of resources to use with high school students.

For a holiday themed addition, transform Halloween into a time to give back: check out Trick or Treat for UNICEF to learn about the campaign and see how you can incorporate donation boxes into your school or neighborhood’s celebration.

For other education resources from the UN to incorporate tomorrow and year-round check out the cyber school bus!

These resources and activities designed to recognize this day and this institution can help to build community by creating common goals for the class to work for and think about through class-wide, school-wide, or community-wide projects. A look at the UN can also help students explore approaches to peace by recognizing the physical, structural, and cultural violence that exists in the world, and highlighting the global community’s efforts to eradicate that violence.

Sojourn to the Past

One of my father’s former students became a high-school history teacher and actively fundraises every year to take her students on a phenomenal trip that helps to reframe the history of the United States Civil Rights Movement. Sojourn to the Past is a “ten-day moving classroom” academic immersion program that takes 11th and 12th graders along the path of the United States Civil Rights Movement. This program brings together youth from diverse social, academic, ethnic, and socio-economic backgrounds in an effort to empower students and educators alike with the historical knowledge and motivation to take responsibility for fostering a society without violence and discrimination.

The trip for students and teachers begins in Atlanta, Georgia and continues through major sites of the Civil Rights struggle including Montgomery, Selma, and Birmingham, Alabama, Hattiesburg and Jackson, Mississippi, Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee. Participants meet with surviving activists of the period including US Congressman John Lewis, a veteran of Dr. King’s Selma march, and Minnijean Brown Trickey who was one of the Little Rock Nine. Through the combination of historic site visits, oral history and the study of written documents, students and teachers who participate in Sojourn to the Past learn “tolerance, justice, compassion, hope, and non-violence.”

While the Sojourn to the Past trip is currently being offered to 11th and 12th grade students, I believe that this experience would be valuable for students from 5th grade onward. Often, and especially in our public school system, history is taught with heavy reliance on text books, many of which are one-sided and fail to illuminate the rich and diverse experiences that have shaped the world we live in today. Sojourn to the Past is a wonderful way to supplement a standard history curriculum, allowing students and educators to gain a deeper, more hands-on understanding of the Civil Rights Movement. Besides its current use, this is a program that could benefit anyone. It could easily be adapted to community and faith-based groups through institutions like charitable and civic organizations, community centers, churches, synagogues, and mosques.

The Sojourn to the Past trip is a free-standing peace education activity that is already well-designed and fully packaged to promote the historical knowledge and attitudes that are desirable for those interested in non-violent social change. The explicit values to which Sojourn is committed are humanity, diversity, respect and compassion, education, empowerment, social-justice through non-violence, courage and civic responsibility, integrity and accountability, and the creation of an inclusive environment.

Three pillars of peace education are exceptionally upheld through the Sojourn to the Past program. Through the act of bringing together students from diverse backgrounds and exposing them to a common experience, Sojourn helps to build community. By exposing participants to the ways that significant change was accomplished in the past through non-violence and solidarity, Sojourn allows its participants to explore different approaches to peace. Finally, and perhaps most explicitly, Sojourn reframes history by clarifying the relationship between today’s anti-discrimination laws and the struggles of real people a half a century ago.

Check out their website!!

http://www.sojournproject.com/