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USING "REAL" STORIES TO TEACH 21st century READING

"My students' primary texts are volumes in History of US by Joy Hakim (1993). I picked this series because it is lively, accurate, beautifully illustrated, packed with information, smart about causes and consequences..... In short, Hakim's writing style is inviting and accessible"

-Nancie Atwell, Winner, Global Teacher Prize 2015

Joy Hakim's books use an ancient teaching method: STORYTELLING. Today it is known as narrative nonfiction. THEY ARE INTENDED TO TEACH READING COMPREHENSION AS WELL AS SUBJECTMATTER.


How do they work in classrooms? Here's a link to a VOICE OF AMERICA story sent worldwide:
http://www.voanews.com/content/joy-hakim-finds-stories-in-us-history/3390875.html.

A History of US, a visually dynamic 10-book series, is published by Oxford University Press. The Story of Science, in three handsome volumes, is published by Smithsonian Books. Coordianted teaching materials were done by educators at Johns Hopkins, by NSTA's former president Juliana Texley and by a team led by Susan Buckley. A History of US has won a bevy of prizes including the James Michner Writing Award from NCSS. The Story of Science won the Benjamin Franklin Award, a CBC/NSTA's Outstanding Science Trade BookAward for Students K-12, and a Best Science Book of the Year award (topping all categoires) from U.S.A. Books. This is narrative nonfiction in the science world. Joy is now working on biology books.

Freedom: A History of US was written to accompany a 16-part PBS television series Freedom: A History of Us. The TV series is available on DVDs from PBS. The book works especially well in high school or freshman college history classes. Freedom: A History of US is narrated by Katie Couric with Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hanks, and a bevy of well-known celebrities, this TV series was designed with classroom use in mind. Here's a link to the PBS teacher/student website: go to PBS.org/historyofus. The book is available from Social Studies School Services.

Joy's recent works are: Reading Science Stories and "Free To Believe (Or Not." HOW DO YOU READ ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS? "Free to Believe..." addresses that issue as it tells the story of our orignnial contribution to the world of governemnt: religious freedom for everyone. Free to Believe (Or Not) is available on Amazon in both ebook and printed formats. Reading Science Stories, an ebook, is a small language arts book that focuses on stories from the world of science.

THE STORY OF SCIENCE is in gorgeous illustrated ebook format. It has been translated into Korean and Chinese. A HISTORY OF US is in a text-only ebook format (let Oxford know if you'd like to see the illustrated version as an ebook.

Teaching materials to accompany A History of US are available from Oxford University Press, as well as from the teacher/educator CSOS team at Johns Hopkins University (on Amazon). That team has also done imaginative learning books to go with The Story of Science. Can you teach children about relativity and quantum theory? NSTA president Juliana Texley does that in an amazing NSTA teaching resource to accompany "Einstein Adds A New Dimension."NSTA has made teaching materials available on their website.

K12 has produced an abridged 4 volume edition of A History of Us.

When I told one little boy that I remembered Martin Luther King, Jr he gasped,
thought a moment, and asked me if I remembered George Washington.
Of course I do. There I am writing in colonial days.

 

 

SHARING A STORY OF TWO HEROIC FEISTY WOMEN WHO LIVED WAY BEFORE ROSA PARKS:

     A true story to share with your students, otherwise not to be reproduced without permission of the author.

Thomas L. Jennings finds a way to wash clothes without putting them in water. He calls it dry-cleaning. This is something new and quite amazing. Everyone knows that some fabrics are ruined when soaked in water.

 

When Jennings gets his idea patented, he becomes the first known African-American to hold a U.S. patent. A free man who lives in 19th century New York City, he is part of a well-informed black elite. The same can be said of his daughter Elizabeth, who knows the Constitution well.

 

So, in 1854, when she climbs on one of New York City's new horse-drawn streetcars and sits down she expects to be treated like every other American citizen. Elizabeth Jennings is 24-years old and eager to be on time for Sunday services at the First Colored Congregational Church. Here's how the New York Daily Tribune (famously edited by Horace Greeley) describes what happened next:

 

"She got upon one of the company cars...on the Sabbath, to ride to church. The conductor undertook to get her off, first alleging the car was full; when that was shown to be false, he pretended the other passengers were displeased at her presence, but (when) she insisted on her rights, he took hold of her by force ... She resisted. The conductor got her down on the platform, jammed her bonnet, soiled her dress and injured her person. Quite a crowd gathered, but she effectually resisted. Finally... with the aid of a policeman they succeeded in removing her."

 

New York's black leaders are outraged, they decide: it is time to end racial discrimination on streetcars. The African Americans hire a law firm; they intend to sue the Third Avenue Railroad. Twenty-four-year-old Chester A. Arthur becomes their lawyer. (Later Arthur will be president of the United States.) Frederick Douglass, a black journalist and orator, tells their story in his newspaper.

 

They win the case. The judge, in his official opinion, says: "Colored persons...have the same rights as others..."
New York has three other railroad companies. A month later, the Rev. James W.C. Pennington isn't allowed on N.Y.'s Eighth Avenue Railroad because of his skin color. He, too, sues and wins. It takes still one more legal action but finally New York's public transit system gets fully integrated.

 

As for Elizabeth Jennings, she will found and run New York's first kindergarten for black children (that is after she marries and becomes Elizabeth Graham).

 

Meanwhile in San Francisco in 1863 (the Civil War is raging in the East), Charlotte Brown takes a seat on a horse-drawn streetcar. Her father, James E. Brown, runs a horse stable and is a partner in a black newspaper. He is also a member of the San Francisco Literary Society, a debate group composed of African American thinkers.

 

The California conductor tells Charlotte Brown she has no right to sit on the streetcar because of the color of her skin. Later, she will describe what happened:

 

“The conductor went around and collected tickets and when he came to me I handed him my ticket and he refused to take it. It was one of the Omnibus railroad tickets, one that I had purchased... He replied that colored persons were not allowed to ride. I told him I had been in the habit of riding ever since the cars had been running. ...I had a great ways to go and I was later than I ought to be."

 

The conductor, Thomas Dennison, asks her to leave. When she refuses he throws her off the bus. Brown sues the Omnibus Railroad Company. That company argues that the conductor's action is justified: they say racial segregation protects white women and children who might be fearful of riding in the same car as African Americans.


Charlotte Brown tells her story in court and a white jury believes her. The conductor is convicted of assault and battery. Judge Orville Pratt calls streetcar segregation "a relic of barbarism."

 

That barbarism will continue in the American South until, a century later, Rosa Parks takes a seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama (see Book 10 in this series, All The People for some details on what happens after that).