On March 15, 2019, the world was hit with an absolute tragedy. In Christchurch, New Zealand, two mosques fell victim to mass shootings during Friday prayer. The shootings demonstrate the anti-Muslim and anti-immigration attitudes that continue to plague our world. As educators, librarians, and families, we need to take a stand against islamophobia to show support.
After hearing about the tragic New Zealand shootings, I wanted to figure out a way I can move beyond “thoughts and prayers” and take some action in my own classroom. The majority of my first graders are Muslim and all of my students benefit from anti-islamophobia teaching, so I met with a leader in the Muslim community to come up with ideas for a K-2 lesson. We decided on an anti-discrimination and acceptance lesson that would create the space for students to talk about what happened, but not expose them to details (we wanted to give the autonomy to the local community to guide these conversations with students).
I wrote the lesson plan and broadened it to K-2 in order to give other educators a resource to take action. In this lesson, teachers will introduce the vocabulary of acceptance and discrimination. Then, they will read Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter, by Mark Gonzales to lead into a discussion about ways to accept everyone. At the end of the lesson, there is a worksheet that serves as a summative assessment that has a clear rubric tied to the lesson goals. This lesson will build crosscultural empathy and anti-racist/anti-islamophobic views in our students.
The Lesson Plan
Click the following link or the picture to access a PDF of the lesson: Yo Soy Muslim Anti-Discrimination – Colorful Pages. The PDF includes the lesson plan and the printable lesson materials, which is just the Acceptance Worksheet. Check out the next section to see this lesson plan in action!
I taught this lesson yesterday to my first graders. The pacing of the lesson was quick because I had already taught two units of Ethnic Studies and engaged my students in frequent anti-racism discussions. This lesson does provide foundational language that can help your classroom either launch into or build onto these critical conversations.
I started with the introduction where I taught the vocabulary terms. My students immediately understood the vocabulary terms of acceptance and discrimination, especially with the intentional color coding I used on the sentence strips I created. However, my students did have a hard time pronouncing the words even though we practiced a few times. If you have students with English Language Learner needs, consider pre-teaching the vocabulary before the lesson to make them more comfortable using these multisyllabic words.
When we read the book, Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter, my students were able to engage in interesting discussions about discrimination. In addition, my students LOVED Mark Gonzales’s book so much that they asked me to put it in our bookshelves for our Choice Time. The illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini are vibrant and representational to add to the insightful prose Mark Gonzales crafted in this book. Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter is a Conversation book on The Spectrum for Multicultural Literature because it addresses discrimination and acceptance in a primary-friendly way.
At the end of the lesson, my students did a turn-and-talk to help them brainstorm ideas of how to accept everyone. Most of my students listed many different ideas. However, I did confer with a couple pairs that needed some guidance. Then, we gathered together again and made a poster of all our ideas. At the very end, my students go their Acceptance Worksheets and wrote about their ideas more.
I loved teaching this lesson because it helped me address the helplessness I often feel when these tragedies happen. I was able to take some action in my classroom and aid my students in developing the foundational ideas necessary to become activists in our communities. This is just a puzzle piece of what needs to happen to fully redress the Christchurch Mosque Shootings, so please continue your work.
Remember thoughts and prayers are a start, but it’s the action we take in our classrooms that will define the next generations!