Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources 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 1: Engagement and Dialogue
Authors and Literary Works
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Student Work
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.

Video Summary

The following is a summary of the activities featured in Workshop video 1. The activities were part of a larger study of identity. In adapting them to your own classroom, students, and overall curriculum, you may choose to vary the sequence or timing presented here.


  • "Half-and-Half," by Naomi Shihab Nye
  • "Saying Yes," by Diana Chang
  • The Color of Water, by James McBride
  • "What Means Switch" by Gish Jen
  • "Family Ties: The Lighter Side of the Vietnamese American Experience," by Khoi Truong Luu
  • "I Want to Be Miss America," by Julia Alvarez
  • "The All-American Slurp," by Lensey Namioka
    (Selected works available in Workshop 1: Readings ) PDF
  • Matters of Race, Program 2 ("Race Is/Race Ain't"), video by Lulie Haddad and Orlando Bagwell
  • Census form (PDF)
  • Historical documents related to immigration and interracial marriage in the 19th and 20th centuries, which may include political cartoons, newspaper articles, and court records
  • Three musical selections of different styles or genres, such as opera, rap, and rock
Standards for the English Language Arts


  1. Carol O'Donnell tells her students that they will be studying "dual identities and multiple worlds" through a range of texts. The students read and discuss poems by Naomi Shihab Nye and Diana Chang.

  2. As a whole class, then in pairs, the students talk about times in their lives when they came to recognize something about themselves that made them different from others.

  3. O'Donnell shows a short segment of the PBS series Matters of Race that explores biracial identities in the context of the 2000 census. The students then fill out a census form, noting how difficult it can be to categorize themselves according to a standard form.

  4. The class begins reading The Color of Water. O'Donnell asks them to write their reactions, craft discussion questions, and choose important quotes. They use their notes to guide a whole-class discussion about the book. (See Teaching Strategies: Peer Facilitation.)

  5. In small groups, the students analyze historical documents concerning legal restrictions on Asians and biracial marriages in the 19th and early 20th centuries. They make connections to the characters and issues in the short stories and essays they are reading.

  6. The students discuss Gish Jen's short story "What Means Switch" and Khoi T. Luu's short piece "Family Ties."

  7. As a whole class, the students discuss "I Want to Be Miss América" by Julia Alvarez and "The All-American Slurp" by Lensey Namioka. They continue this discussion in small groups, using discussion questions they have prepared. Then they share their own written pieces, which they have also prepared prior to this lesson, in which they describe one of their family's cultural practices.

  8. O'Donnell engages the class in an "identity exercise" to help foster discussion about stereotypes and "structures of value" in society. She plays three selections of music -- opera, rock, and R&B -- and then asks the students to discuss their first impressions of each type of music, speculate on who listens to it, and describe their own associations with the different selections.

  9. Writer and performer Tina Lee speaks to the class and performs part of a monologue on her Korean American identity. Following the performance, Lee answers students' questions about her writing and her identity.

  10. The class stages a "Talk Show" in which students take on the roles of the characters from the memoirs, stories, and essays they've been reading. The students in the audience act as reporters, posing questions about the characters' lives and points of view on identity issues. (See Teaching Strategies: Talk Show.)

  11. O'Donnell gives a writing assignment, three-page "identity stories" that the students will share with the class. (See Teaching Strategies: Identity Stories.)

  12. Students read their pieces aloud to the whole class. The pieces vary widely in genre and content, including essays, poems, and a rap. This is the culmination of weeks of thinking about identity, and the students respond respectfully and enthusiastically to one another's work.

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