Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades
Workshop 1 Workshop 2 Workshop 3 Workshop 4 Workshop 5 Workshop 6 Workshop 7 Workshop 8
Workshop 8: Social Justice and Action - Joseph Bruchac and Francisco Jimenez
Overview
Authors and Literary Works
Joseph Bruchac
Biography
Work
Interview
Francisco Jimenèz
Biography
Work
Interview
LeAlan Jones/ Lloyd Newman
Biography
Work
Key References
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Commentary
Student Work
Resources
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.


Authors and Literary Works
Biography

Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago, the very personal story of what it was like to grow up in Chicago's notorious Ida B. Wells housing project, was a product of teamwork.

LeAlan Jones
LeAlan Jones was 13 when he and his best friend, Lloyd Newman, set out to tape-record interviews with family, friends, and neighbors in the Ida B. Wells project, where both boys were longtime residents. The teenagers worked under the guidance of independent radio documentarian David Isay, who hoped to shape their audio diaries into authentic sound portraits of childhood life in poverty. Together the team produced two documentaries, which aired on NPR's All Things Considered. They then revisited the original tapes and wrote Our America.

Looking back on his days as a "rookie reporter," LeAlan Jones views the first documentary, Ghetto Life 101, as "a critical story detailing the resilience and hope of two African American young men finding their way through urban injustice and succeeding with optimism amongst failure." Jones was a member of an antigang group, No Dope Express, at the time of the original taping; he went on to be the National Junior Spokesman for the group, was featured by the Chicago Defender, and lectured across the country.

After studying criminology at Florida State University, Jones transferred to Barat College of DePaul in Lake Forest, Illinois, where he received a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies. Currently he is a freelance writer for N'Digo Weekly Magapaper in Chicago. Jones is also a football coach and mentor at his high school alma mater.



Lloyd Newman
Lloyd Newman has shared with Jones and Isay the considerable awards that were given to the two documentaries, including the Livingston Award, the George Foster Peabody Award, and the grand prize from the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards, which was a first for a radio program.

Newman has attended several colleges. Reflecting on his reporting experiences, he says:

Yes, I have been blessed with success in journalism, but I was a kid then, and had a lot of help. Now that I'm in college, I see you have to work hard to get where you want to be. All I can say is: I got ideas. Don't think that this will be the last time you will hear from me, because I will put those ideas to work.



David Isay
David Isay, who conceived of the Ida B. Wells documentary and book projects and shepherded them to completion, has a well-respected record in the documentary field. He is an independent producer, founder and executive producer of Sound Portraits Productions, and a longtime contributor to NPR's All Things Considered.

Isay contacted social service agencies and high schools all around Chicago to locate a pair of prospective teen reporters. He and Jones and Newman then collaborated on interview questions and production decisions. Isay found it "a remarkable experience -- sitting in my room in Chicago, listening to these stories unfold on tape. Day after day I was dumbfounded at the honesty, humor, and courage of the kids and their families. LeAlan and Lloyd were insightful, intensely curious, meticulous observers -- a poignant mixture of little boys and adolescents wise far beyond their years." Isay edited the documentary, with considerable input from his reporters. Airing on WBEZ in Chicago and nationally on NPR, Ghetto 101 "generated a small avalanche of listener and press accolades, and later more than a dozen national and international awards."

A year and a half later, the trio reassembled to do a second documentary about the heartbreaking story of five-year-old Eric Morse, who was pushed out of the 14th floor of a building at Ida B. Wells by boys aged 10 and 11. Finally, they worked together to produce Our America. Jones's and Newman's story was also the basis of an award-winning HBO documentary.

Inspired by the Depression-era Works Progress Administration's interviews with ordinary Americans, Isay has created the oral history initiative StoryCorps, "to help you interview your grandmother, your uncle, the lady who's worked down the block for as long as you can remember." The project started with a soundproof recording booth in New York's Grand Central Station. Isay's plan is to build similar broadcast-quality booths across the country, so people can record their stories with the help of trained facilitators.

Isay has won almost every award in broadcasting, including the Peabody Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and the Livingston Award. He has been honored with a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Fellowship.



John Brooks
The work of photographer John Brooks enhances the stark drama of Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago. Brooks grew up in another well-known and troubled Chicago housing project, Cabrini Green. He was a self-taught photographer found by David Isay through Gallery 37, a jobs program for kids interested in the arts. "John's intimate, black-and-white portraits of his family, friends, and neighbors from Cabrini Green won us over immediately," says Isay. "He was a natural to join the team."



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