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