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Speech in the Schools

Book It, Part 14: Um, “Happy” Columbus Day!

Published October 10, 2011 8:52 AM by Sean Sweeney

Many of us feel a little torn about this holiday at this point, with all that Native populations suffered as a result of European exploration and colonization. A 5th grade teacher, Lynn Penczar, who I had a great collaboration with (and still miss, as I have moved to a different school), introduced me to a great picture book that can be used to discuss these conflicting emotions over having today, Monday, October 10, as a celebratory day off school.

The 5th grade curriculum for many districts includes the Age of Exploration, an incredibly complex series of events and geographic abstractions that can leave our students struggling in a wake of confusion. Lynn helped accommodate these needs by using Jane Yolen's powerful picture book Encounter.

Encounter (rather a departure from Yolen's light How do Dinosaurs... series) is the tale of a young Taino boy who dreams of the arrival of Columbus, and seeks to warn his people about trusting the new visitors. He of course is ignored, with rather disastrous results.

 Encounter

In our collaboration, I would sync my sessions with Lynn's reading of the book in class, reviewing the story through picture walks and story mapping. This book is a particularly good one to use some kind of perspective taking map (Mindwing's Story Grammar Marker program has a great one) to help kids see and retell the story from both the Taino and European views.

Putting curriculum content in story form is always a great modification for our students. Some other ways this book can be used include:

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About this Blog


    Speech in the Schools
    Occupation: School-based speech-language pathologists
    Setting: Traditional and specialized K-12 classrooms
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