Archive for August 7th, 2012

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Today is the first day back to school for teachers. Kids come on Friday. So naturally, I am thinking about how I can make a difference in my students’ lives this year. A lofty goal, I know, but I am all tuned in to Common Core and challenging students to be responsive readers. One of the ways students can respond to a text is to make a connection from one text to another.
While reading about Gabby Douglas this weekend in the USA Today, I felt a connection between the “significance” of her accomplishments to those of other African American sports heroes.

One of my favorite middle grade novelists is Christopher Paul Curtis. He wrote the Newbery winner, Bud, not Buddy, and Newbery Honor Book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963. Both are in my classroom library. His latest novel is The Mighty Miss Malone. Like his other novels, Miss Malone is set in historical context, the Great Depression. Deza’s family is struggling to make ends meet. Her father is injured and is unable to work. The town is all tuned in to the big fight starring Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber. I have to admit, I did not know that Joe Louis was a real hero until my husband told me about it. He looked up an article for me on ESPN.

I enjoyed reading about Joe Louis. One quote stood out for me. His son said, “What my father did was enable white America to think of him as an American, not as a black. By winning, he became white America’s first black hero.”

In The Mighty Miss Malone, Deza asks her father what “a credit to your race” means. He says that it has to do with intentions. What he points out to her is that someone who says that is probably not to be trusted.

Gabby Douglas said she didn’t think about being the first African-American to win the title. She didn’t, but others have, even so far as to argue about her hair. What century are we in, people? I think Gabby Douglas is a sports hero, like Joe Louis, as an American.

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