Friday, November 27, 2020

Six Triple Eight

 During World War II (1945), a unit of the Women's Army Corps delivered for the troops.  The Army battalion of African American women played an important role to boost the troops' morale.  After the Normandy invasion logistical problems were common.  Processing mail for soldiers whose locations changed daily was an arduous task.  This battalion began with 855 members and grew to the thousands.  The women worked round the clock in eight hour shifts.  They managed and processed approximately 65,000 pieces of mail per session. They cleared a massive back log of mail stored in airplane hangers.  The women of the 6888th slept in separate barracks and ate in separate mess halls from the rest of the troops.  They came home to no parades, no speeches, and no recognition.  (Funny Note: There were 7,500 Robert Smiths to identify).  Interview with Lena King, WWII Vet, 6888th Mail Battalion.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020


Heroes use their strength and their knowledge.  Teaching Tolerance published an article entitled Not All Heroes Fight discussing the concept of using a famous childrens' book as a springboard to discuss heroes. Swimmy is a great model for discussing how people and society can work together to achieve a goal.

I wrote a similar article about using childrens' books and movies to illustrate social studies concepts

Friday, November 20, 2020

Making Afterschool Cool

 I was recently interviewed for the Making Afterschool Cool podcast.

Listen to my interview here.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Interview with an Unsung Hero

Jerry LeVias was the first black athlete to play for the Southern Methodist football team in Texas.  He played in the late sixties when the Civil Rights movement was struggling.  In this interview, he talks about his experience of being the first black athlete on the field and how he overcame hate and racism.  He highlights how important it is to control your emotions when confronted by hate and to embrace our similarities.  In addition, LeVias discusses how important it is for educators and families to discuss discrimination and injustice. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Book Review: Inside Out & Back Again

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai is a great historical fiction novel written in verse.   The main character, Kim Ha, is a young girl whose tightly knit family struggled through the Vietnam War.  The Ha family is forced out of the country they love when Saigon falls and basic essentials run out.  Her family leaves Vietnam and hopes for better life in America (Alabama).  This book illustrates how hard life can be for refugees while highlighting the culture and customs of Vietnam.  The internal and external struggles of Kim offer a compelling lesson for any classroom. Here is an excerpt from the novel:

            "No one would believe me

        but at times

           I would choose 

           wartime in Saigon


               peacetime in Alabama."

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Susie King Taylor

 Susie Baker King Taylor  was a slave, teacher, nurse and author from Georgia during the Civil War.  She is a testament to black strength in the face of overwhelming odds.  As a young child she was taught how to read and write in an underground secret school even though it was illegal.  In 1862 she fled to Union-occupied St. Solomon Island.  When the Union Army discovered she could read, she was charged with the responsibility of educating other escape slaves, making her the first black teacher to work in an operating Freedmen School.  After teaching freedmen for a year she was sent by Union forces to assist the 33rd U.S. Colored Troops during their Civil War campaign.  For four years she served with the 33rd as a cook, assistant and nurse. Taylor  served four years in the Civil War and never received a penny for her services.. After the war she continued her work, briefly opening up a school that taught children and adults. 

I recommend reading Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen with your students to learn more about underground secret schools during the Civil War. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Henrietta Boggs

Henrietta Boggs was a women's rights activist who promoted social justice.  Henrietta Boggs was born in Alabama, where racial division in the early 1920's provided for a very sheltered childhood.  She was formally educated and surrounded by inequality.  While studying in college, she traveled to South America and fell in love with a local farmer.  She cast aside her pampered southern lifestyle at the age of 23 to marry Jose Figueres Ferer.  Her husband was a vocal supporter of governmental reform in Costa Rica. The couple was forced into political exile for their resistance.   Despite the danger, they smuggled arms into Costa Rica to support the growing revolution.  For their leadership during rebellion Ferer was elected President of Costa Rica in 1953.  Boggs became the first lady.  Under pressure from his wife,  Figueres granted women and Afro-Costa Ricans the right to vote.  During her years as first lady she assisted and eased countries poverty problems.  After she separated from her husband she moved back to Alabama where she supported the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the civil rights movement. 

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Chinese Suffragette

 Mabel Ping Hua Lee was an advocate for women’s rights.  She encouraged education and civic participation of Chinese women of all ages.  Her efforts in support of the suffrage movement were very important to the passage of the 19th amendment and are often not recognized by the textbooks.  She helped organize the suffrage parade (May 4th, 1912) in New York City which drew thousands of supporters.  In addition, she wrote persuasive articles stressing the importance of voting rights and equal opportunities for women that were read by thousands.  Last, it is important to point out that she was NOT granted the right to vote until the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943.  Her efforts to ensure women’s rights were historic and the fact that she was unable to vote until 1943 is very upsetting.