Diversity. It's what makes us all unique. It's what makes our world dynamic. Unfortunately, it is also what drives people apart. When you walk into the classroom, you play an essential role in teaching diversity.
For many students, the classroom is the first place they experience differences. For some, it might be where they first encounter the adverse effects of being “different.” So how do you teach diversity in the classroom?
Books are a great place to turn, and The Day You Begin is the perfect mentor text to turn to when introducing this concept.
What is The Day You Begin?
The Day You Begin is an illustrated book that talks about differences amongst people and celebrate those differences. This book has a clear message that tells the reader that your differences might make you feel awkward and honor what sets you apart.
Teaching Diversity Using the Book
This mentor text lends itself perfectly to teaching diversity. When we think of diversity, we typically think of skin color or culture, but it has many different forms.
Some people are diverse because they have parents separated or are of a different religion. Grandparents or other family members might raise a student, or maybe the student has adopted parents. No matter who you are, you are distinct in some way, shape, and form. By choosing picture books with diverse characters, students can see themselves through the pages of a book.
Before you read, ask your students what makes them unique. Create an anchor chart with descriptive words based on their responses. I like to take pictures of each student and create classroom displays of their faces represented. If you are teaching virtually, you can celebrate their differences by putting them in your Bitmoji classroom.
Teaching Diversity During Reading
While you are reading, do not show students the pictures. Tell students while you read the story for enjoyment, tell them to create an image in their mind based on the words the author uses.
Once you've read the story, tell students they will act as an illustrator—model for students to take words from a text that paints a picture from the book. Sketch out an image that represents the words on a page. Then show students the illustration from the book and compare.
Allow students to come up with a phrase to illustrate from the story. Then have them compare their drawing. Students could do this digitally using Seesaw, Google Slides, or Book Creator.
Making Connections: A Post Reading Activity
Making connections is a great reading strategy to use with The Day You Begin. When you ask students to connect with a text, you ask them to create a deeper understanding of the content and add more meaning. There are three different types of connections you can make:
If you want to make all three types of connections, this book can become a great unit! Hopefully, students will be able to make a text-to-self connection right away.
To make a text-to-text connection, you can read another story with diversity in it and ask students to connect it to the book. Having students read independently and use other reading strategies like questioning and summarizing, along with their digital interactive notebooks, can also be helpful.
To make a text-to-world connection, you can pull stories from the news or online or physical papers.
Diversity is all around us. It's our job as teachers to teach variety, celebrate the differences between our students, and set a positive tone in our classroom.
Also, be sure to sign-up for my FREE digital interactive notebook you can use with your students to teach The Day You Begin.
Teaching has always been more than reading, writing, history, math, and science. Teachers have the unique opportunity to teach good character. Introducing diverse mentor texts like The Day You Begin is a great way to teach students that it takes everyone to make the world go round.