Category Archives: Professional Development

African American Literature for Black Boys Bibliography for Scholastic #ReadingSummit

Thank you for attending, reaching out, or sharing this resource that is a starter for creating a library of #blackboylit. If you use the attached list, please assure you are attributing my work: Dr. Kim Parker. Thank you. African American literature for black boys Bibliography_Scholastic_July ’18.
African American literature for black boys Bibliography_Scholastic (1)

I’m presenting at the Scholastic Reading Summits over the next two weeks. On Thursday, July 12, I’ll be in Raleigh, NC (OMG, sold out!!!) and the following week on July 19, in Greenwich, CT . 

My workshop is officially titled: Creating an Independent Reading Canon for Black Boys, and we’ll spend some time talking books that resonate with Black boys, the wonderful world of #blackboylit and how to make sure we’re making informed, critical decisions about what texts we include in our libraries and our instructional practices, and, of course, how independent reading is gonna save us all. Because, it just IS.

If you’re looking for the bibliography from this session to use as a start for building your library, you can find it here: African American literature for black boys Bibliography_Scholastic

I hope to see you either here or in the social media universe. I’ll post my fall workshops as they are booked (which reminds me, I still have some availability for PD if you’re looking for someone whose work is useful, relevant, and effective).

Have a great summer!

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Filed under Literacy, Presentations, Professional Development

Stevie’s Legacy: Horn Book Presentation

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Stevie (image from Amazon)

I presented at the Horn Book Colloquium in Boston on October 7. While there were so many highlights (probably the best being meeting Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give and experiencing living legend Ashley Bryan lead us all in a poetry rendition), I was able to lead a discussion with attendees about books for Black boys. I used John Steptoe’s Stevie as a foundational text, then we worked our way through books that are entry points and extensions for this group.

Lots of books on my bibliography were unfamiliar to the audience, and that desire to learn more about what is really a historical legacy of excellent books for Black children sparked a substantial part of the discussion and what we can do to make these books accessible to all children and those of us committed to their care.

If you’re looking for a place to start, click here for Stevie_s Legacy- Black Boys in Children_s and YA Literature- Selected Bibliography and get to reading. Please note there are many, many more books that could be included here. If you have ones to recommend, please leave them in the comments. This is collaborate work we’re doing here.

I remain forever indebted to the work of Drs. Violet J. Harris, Rudine Sims Bishop, and Jonda McNair, whose expertise and brilliance I build upon in my own work.

P.S. Here’s the video of Gordon reading Stevie from Sesame Street.

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Filed under Presentations, Professional Development

Back on the Case: On Being Named a #hfellows Heinemann Fellow

I’ve written about how this year has been difficult largely because I’ve not felt as intellectually challenged as I have in previous years. As a teacher-scholar that has always found something to think deeply about, work on, or consider, that I had to grapple with that issue was one that made me think seriously about the reasons why many of us both choose teaching and choose to pursue lives beyond teaching.

Then, though, a series of events happened. The first was that I collaborated with colleagues to produce a wildly successful Educators of Color Conference that convened so many amazing educators of color sharing their work, celebrating excellence, and simply exhaling together.

The next was being named one of 11 educators from across the nation as a Heinemann Fellow. A primary undertaking over the next two years of this fellowship is to conduct an action research project. Essentially, I get to think deeply about what has been happening in my classroom and focus on a question I’d like to set about investigating. I’d been taking lots of notes during our initial meeting last week, but when our leader, Ellin Keene, began explaining why it’s important to follow our hunches and to think about what is most curious or most troubling about our teaching, I felt my gears start to shift into motion again. 

I have hunches all the time. I ask questions all the time. I write them on Post-Its and in notebooks that I rediscover randomly. For the most part, though, I’ve not spent any meaningful time thinking about how to answer them because of a host of reasons. Largely, though, I’d venture that I’ve not felt compelled to pursue them because I’ve had neither the time nor the compunction to do so on my own. Such a realization is a huge one for me, as when I began teaching I was largely a lone wolf, content to work on my own (for better or for worse). It was only once I got my teaching sea legs that I realized how much more powerful (for myself and for my students) it has been when I go with others. And here I should add that the reason I have been able to remain intellectually engaged over the last two years has been because I have a fantastic colleague that refuses to let me do things alone. Refuses.

Now, though. NOW, THOUGH. Two of my strongest academic experiences were shaped with the help of other people. In graduate school, there was the Dissertation Support Group (the DSG), comprised of three of us working on our Ph.D.s We met often, pushed each other through completion of classes, exams, dissertations, and now, tenure for one of us. Then, there was the Cultivating New Voices Among Scholars of Color (CNV) for NCTE. I was part of a larger cohort of 10 of us that were defending dissertations, applying for tenure-track jobs, figuring out where they fit: in a secondary classroom or in academe (me). In both of these experiences, I was a part of something greater. I was a member of a family. And man, I got some incredible work done!

As a Heinemann Fellow, I am part of a cohort again, and they are some of the most interesting educators I have met in a long time: dedicated, smart, doing great work with young folks. And we’re all doing the work together. TOGETHER. 

Getting back to the research: I had two of the best qualitative methods professors I’ve ever had and I remember both of them talking about hunches and then setting out to see where the data takes you. That, to paraphrase Anne Haas Dyson, is what it means to be “on the case.” I remember being vaguely terrified because, well, that meant that hunches might or might not pan out and what then?!

I’ve come to realize that the what then is actually where the magic happens. That, as one begins to listen, to think deeply, and to simply be willing to be open to what one sees, truth reveals itself. That truth is oftentimes nothing close to what was initially anticipated, but that is okay. Being brave enough to ask the questions is what starts this entire amazing process.

Being named a Heinemann Fellow has reminded me to be brave enough to ask the questions again, and to follow where the case leads. I am beyond excited about this next part of my journey.

 

 

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Filed under Heinemann Fellows, Professional Development, Teachers as Scholars

Teachers: Stop Giving It Away for Free

I’m returning from blogging over at Single Mom So Far, where I spent March participating in the Slice of Life Challenge created by Two Writing Teachers. It was quite nice to work out my current feelings about motherhood and how my life has changed.

We are brilliant teachers: more people should benefit from what we know.

During March, I thought a lot about teaching and some writing projects I finally think I’m ready to undertake. I also had some conversations with fantastic educators. They are brilliant teachers of young people at all levels and abilities. The biggest oversight is that administrators and even other teachers don’t seem to realize that these experts are either next door to them or within their buildings. We sit through PDs that these folks could teach effectively and responsively, yet, they are never asked. On the off chance that they are finally asked to do something, there is often no compensation for the time invested for preparing an excellent PD.

It drives me nuts.

I did the same thing: offered up my resources, thinking and knowledge because I was so flattered whenever someone asked me. It finally took a scholar I admire to remind me that I should not be giving this information away for free. And that’s what I want to remind my fellow teacher-scholars: we have expertise that is valuable. Think about all the emails you’ve fielded about folks wanting to ask you questions about what you’re doing in your classroom. It’s because they know that we’re doing amazing work.

I’m not saying to set up a Teachers Pay Teachers or Gum Road account, but, at the very least, we should learn how to negotiate better. Think about the best lesson plans and units we’ve written. Someone needs those. Think about the presentations we make. Someone would most likely pay for us to present those somewhere (particularly if it’s a business or company of some type). Why not even create a short ebook and sell that like Dave Stuart Junior (I love him) or the Cult of Pedagogy?

We need to stop underselling ourselves. It’s not a matter of modesty: we’ve all seen too many bad instructional materials, know that we can do it better. Thus, we should. And we should attach some sort of value to what we do because if we don’t, people will keep taking it until we have nothing left. Know your worth.

A few other suggestions:

  • Consider consulting: what are you really good at? Determine a rate and use that to either approach potential places (conferences are great for this) or to have it on hand when they come to find you (this can happen, particularly if you begin putting your awesome work out there). It’s better to have a number in mind. Also, don’t forget to account for the time you’ll need to prepare, travel, etc.
  • Have some sort of online presence: a website (lots of free ones are available but I’m being convinced that it makes sense to set up something that a pro designs–maybe)
  • Make a list of everything you’re good at and make that your calling card. I love it that Marie Levey-Pabst offers organizational help for teachers. It’s brilliant! My wonderful friend Lillie Marshall has parlayed her love of traveling and teaching students into presenting at conferences all over the world and visiting incredible locales. She is a brand and it is her passion: she’s found a way to make it work for her. We need to take notes and use these teacher scholars as models.

It’s that whole idea of “whatever you are, be a good one” (Lincoln). We are good at what we do. We need to get better at making sure others know that, too.

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January PD Workshops for the New Year

I’ll be leading several workshops in the new year. If you’re looking for some great Professional Development opportunities, come join me!

January 11, 2015: From Freedom Summer to Ferguson: Teaching Dr. King in the 21st Century: Boston, Simmons College

Join us for a teachers’ workshop focused on the newly published anthology, A Time to Break Silence: The Essential Works of Martin Luther King, Jr. for Students. Educators will learn close reading strategies, historical connections, and writing ideas that will enable them to share King’s work with their students and meet the demands of the Common Core State Standards.

An ELA workshop (grades 7-12) will be led by Dr. Kimberly N. Parker, English faculty at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. A History workshop (grades 7-12) will be led by Dr. Andrea McEvoy Spero, Director of Education for the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute. Breakfast will be provided. All participants will receive complimentary teaching materials, including a copy of the anthology.

All attendees will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a class set of A Time to Break Silence.

Note: Note: workshops will run concurrently. Choose one workshop when you RSVP. Space is limited to 25 ELA teachers and 25 History teachers. Register here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/from-freedom-summer-to-ferguson-teaching-dr-king-in-the-21st-century-registration-14925047218

Tuesday, January 13: Raising an Upstander: The Power of Stories and Books, Sponsored by Facing History and Ourselves as part of the Raising Ethical Children Series, Post 390, Boston, 6-8 pm

I’ll be chatting about how to diversify your child’s library with books that feature a range of multicultural stories (primarily targeted to ages 0-12). More information is attached. Raising an Upstander 1.13.15

January 31, 2014: Teaching Dr. King in the 21st Century, Morehouse College, Atlanta

I’ll be co-leading a day-long workshop for Atlanta Public Schools teachers about the MLK anthology. Hosted by Morehouse College and sponsored by Beacon Press.

I hope to see you at one or all of these events (that would be great!). Space is limited; RSVP soon. Happy New Year!

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Poems About Ferguson

In preparation for a poetry unit that looks at the role of the poet in society, I went searching for some poems about Ferguson, MO. The Google Doc I created is a work in progress, but it’s a start. Here it is in case you’re looking for resources.

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Filed under Equity, Professional Development

Sophomore Slump

Once you reach a certain age, you really shouldn’t blame other people and circumstances for your personal decisions. I have a pattern of staying in places for two years, then moving on to something else. While it was easy to rack up reasons for those decisions: too suburban, too this, too that, I missed teaching in urban schools, etc., (and I’m mostly talking about teaching here), what has become most clear is this:

I love the first year in a school: it’s full of possibility, you can try new things, the kids are all new, your colleagues offer the potential for new discussions and learning–rose colored glasses fully activated. Near the end of that year, though, you realize that the current place has its own challenges and, while they are challenges in this new space, they really aren’t that different from what you left.

Thus, when I roll into year two, the glasses are off and the papers are stacking up, and the job gets hard and I, usually, get an itch to do something else. I miss the new. It might be some mix of my being a creative and loving the challenge of figuring something out, but, now, I understand that by leaving, I really haven’t given myself a chance to figure it out.

Until now.

So I’ve dragged my heels mightily in objection to teaching AP Lit. I was able to get away with it last year, but my department head dropped the hammer and said I had to do it this year. I have my issues with the AP: primarily that it becomes this test-driven industry that really doesn’t mirror ANY of the freshmen lit classes I took in college or, well, ever. And then, too, I am not the lover of literature I was in college or since I began teaching. I love writing, and teaching kids to write well, but I can take or leave most texts as long as kids read SOMETHING.

I had this interaction with my former department head at NCTE in November, wherein we essentially made peace, but I think about that interaction often because that two-year sabbatical in the suburb taught me more about TEACHING LITERATURE than I was ready to admit.

Herein, I condense those lessons:

  • My colleagues were brilliant about how to get into a text: how to teach it upside down, around and through, to all types of kids. I think if anyone wants to know how to do “close reading” they should start with these folks, because, essentially, close reading is simply what good readers do.
  • They created some amazing materials–that they readily share with me, STILL. Perhaps this is why I am not fearing traveling back in time with Hester Prynne and The Scarlet Letter. Perhaps.
  • Most importantly, they taught me that this stuff takes time to learn: that you can’t just do two years and leave in a fit of annoyance or a desire for the new. You’ll never get it. Thing is, I don’t think I ever would have come to that understanding if I stayed there. I simply wasn’t comfortable and I felt like I needed time to come to that. But I see it in my practice: how strategies and skills that I thought I would never be able to do (and there are many) now seem natural (ish). The way I approach a text, which used to be much more about activities, I am sure, now are about clearly focused objectives that matter to mastering the material. OMG–I am finally becoming THAT teacher.

Don’t get me wrong, though: the struggle is real and daily I ask myself a thousand questions, but, at this moment, I’m content to remain HERE, in this school, and attempt to figure them out.

See: growth can happen. Now, let me get back on this scaffold.

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