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Social Inequality

Our 4th Grade Social Studies and Language Arts Unit

Ryan Malone

on 18 August 2012

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Transcript of Social Inequality

Social Inequality:
A Grade 4 Language Arts and Social Studies Unit 7-year-old Indira works at a granite quarry and lives in a one-room house near Katmandu, Nepal, with her parents, brother and sister. (From Where Children Sleep by James Mollison) In this unit, we'll look at Social Inequality through
a number of lenses.
Our literature will be focused on Social Inequality of America from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Our Morning Messages will examine Social Inequality in present-day media and institutions.
Our Explore Nepal field trips has us work with a school a few blocks away and a whole world away from ours.
Our writing will focus on an issue of social inequality at our school and advocate for change.
We'll use movies, documentaries, songs, and poetry to help develop understanding and empathy. We'll be looking at the following
Essential Questions in this unit: What is racism? In what ways does racist behavior affect everyone in the community? Are there times when you should be silent about your beliefs, even if you feel you are right? Why or why not? Are laws always fair? What makes a law good or bad? What can individuals do about bad laws? What will we be reading: Book Club Read-Aloud Birmingham Sunday by Joan Baez Selected clips from Spike Lee's "Four Little Girls" Movies: The Great Debaters & To Kill A Mockingbird We start our literature unit with "Song of the Trees" by
Mildred Taylor. We read the story together, as a whole class,
and talk about the major themes and conflicts in the book. Next, some of the class will read these next short books by Mildred Taylor. The first two continue the story of the Logan family,
while "The Gold Cadillac" takes place 20 years later, in the 1950's, with a different family. Others will read "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry". This is an extended story of the Logan family. Some of our read-alouds will be picture books. We'll watch and write about two movies in our unit of study To follow up "The Watsons Go To Birmingham", we'll watch selected clips from Spike Lee's first documentary The Simulation: Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes Jane Elliott has been teaching her "Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes" simulation for several decades. She first started with her 3rd grade class, and in later years applied it to adults in workshops on anti-racism. She applies different rules and expectations of her students based on their eye color. The point of all of her teachings is to build empathy to minority groups, and to illustrate that when society sets low expectations for a group, that group is forced to live down to those expectations. The class will watch, make predictions, and write about the "Blue Eye, Brown Eye" exercises that Jane Elliott does with both her 3rd grade class and adults. We'll reflect on questions such as "What is power?" and "What does bullying look like?" Then apply those themes to social inequality as a whole. Morning Message: Social Inequality in Advertising and Institutions The first thing the class does in the morning is respond to a "morning message." Most responses happen on the white board. The responses are used as a discussion topic near the end of our "morning routine." Some of our Morning Messages look at racist themes in advertising We look at the language that media uses. We look at how advertisements change from country to country (on the top is Microsoft's American ad, and on the bottom is Microsoft's poorly Photoshopped Poland ad. We also talk about the common modern practice of American zoos featuring generic African homes. Writing: A vehicle for change
There are several inequalities that exist at Lincoln School. Most of them are complicated. There's one that is not however. Teachers have a right to vote for school board members, but teaching assistants, who are fully qualified teachers, are not. The fourth graders are preparing essays about this and will ask Lincoln's School Board to consider a change in policy. Thanks for watching.
Ryan And how competition in modern sports can breed racism:
http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaab-the-dagger/southern-miss-band-chants-where-green-card-puerto-205326741.html Explore Nepal and our 4th Grade Field Trips This year our 4th grade sister school is Kuleswar School. The school is a few blocks away from Lincoln, but locality is the only similarity.

The student population of Kuleswar is made up mostly of children indentured servants. Their families have sold them as household help. The school is their only reprieve from daily labor. Kuleswar School is on a particularly stinky stretch of the Bhagmati River. As it was explained to our students, "The school is located in our trash." We have already participated in a series of field trips with the school, working together with their 4th and 3rd graders to help out with their school garden, and create visual aids in both English and Nepali for their classrooms. In the coming weeks we'll see what other activities we can do together. Where else can this unit take us? One of the most meaningful aspects of this unit for the kids is that "words have power." Words can build us up, or tear us down, as individuals or as groups of people. The concept of racism is a shock to most international school children. The use of words to bully is not. As 21st century learners, our students use ways to communicate with each other that would seem like science fiction when we were growing up. Teaching responsibility when using and communicating technology seems like a necessary and logical next step. As much as we want this unit to involve a more in depth look at the caste system of Nepal, it is a difficult component to design, for a lot of reasons. We hope that the caste system takes a more centralized role in the future.
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