Literacy Lenses

Focusing on The Literacy Work that Matters

Engaging Literate Minds: Developing Children’s Social, Emotional, and Intellectual Lives

by Mary Howard

June 25, 2020 was a very special day for our #G2Great family. It felt like a double dose of professional joy to welcome guest hosts, Peter Johnston and Kathy Champeau, and celebrate their phenomenal new book, Engaging Literate Minds: Developing Children’s Social, Emotional, and Intellectual Lives (Stenhouse 2020). 

As soon as I heard that Engaging Literate Minds would soon be gracing the world, I knew that it was destined to be the professional gift that educators desperately needed. As I soaked in their wisdom, I was struck by the idea that I was indeed the recipient of this “gift” in every sense of the word. While their writerly “WHY” remained in clear focus as I read, it seems appropriate to begin by sharing the first question we posed to Peter and Kathy so that we can understand the book “WHY” from their perspective:

What motivated you to write this book? What impact did you hope that it would have in the professional world?

Peter Johnston

I was motivated to write this book because I thought what my co-authors were doing was so important that other teachers should be made aware of it and why it is so important. For myself, I hoped that the process of writing – shuttling between classroom and research library – would expand my understanding of literacy teaching and learning. Events happen in the classroom that we might recognize as important without initially knowing why, and there is often research that can help us understand. At the same time research can help us expand the frequency of those classroom moments and maximize their value, or find new aspects of development to move our teaching forward. My hope for the book in the professional world is that it will provoke teachers to do exactly what our group has done, helping each other to examine children’s learning and our teaching, keeping in mind the big picture of children’s development and how it might be reflected in the small moments of classroom life. I hope the book expands teachers’ imagination of what’s possible, why it’s important, and how to achieve it and, in the process, expand their professional knowledge. I also hope the book might affirm and perhaps enhance teachers’ understanding of the importance of teaching, both for children and for society at large.

Kathy Champeau

I wanted teachers and students to experience the thrill of it all, the thrill of teaching and learning this way, and what’s possible when they do. Teaching is such a daily joy when students want to come to school, when they can’t wait to find out what they are capable of, and when they realize who they are becoming in the process. Teachers create the opportunities for this to happen. I interact with a lot of teachers from a variety of districts and I was concerned that so many were leaving the profession or contemplating it because the joy was gone and they weren’t able to reach students the way they had hoped. I wondered if educators found examples that described what’s possible from multiple teachers, not just one teacher, then they might say, “I want that, I can do that.” No matter their setting, teachers are in control of their intellectual lives and who they become as teachers is a result of that. Teachers need to know their expertise matters and growing that expertise collaboratively in a true intellectual community can support their learning and, in turn, their students’ learning. If teachers create intellectually stimulating classroom environments that are safe for all students, school becomes an exciting place to be each day. Hopefully, this book is a vision for what’s possible and the reasons why this vision matters. 

I believe without question that every educator who reads Engaging Literate Minds will understand this ‘vision of possible’, particularly if it is used to promote schoolwide collaborative study as I hope it will. Initially, knowing that nothing short of a full committed read would be adequate to bring their vision to life caused me to struggle finding a sense of direction for this post. Ultimately, I decided to focus on three sources of wisdom by using two quotes from Engaging Literate Minds as bookends to open and close this post followed by more reflections from Peter and Kathy with twitter-fueled chat messages lovingly sandwiched in the middle. 

And so, I begin on page 9 of Engaging Literate Minds with our opening bookend quote since it reflects the spirit of the thinking that follows:

This quote is a stark reminder that professional books should “change our teaching” and thus transform our practices. I view this from a lens of HOPE. Across Engaging Literate Minds, Peter Johnston and Kathy Champeau, along with classroom vignettes from generous educators Andrea Hartwig, Sarah Helmer, Merry Komar, Tara Krueger and Laurie McCarthy, SHOW us what change looks like in action. This is the very heart and soul of a book that feels like an invitation to embrace transformative change both personally and professionally. Before I share their takeaways from my tweet inspired perspective, let’s listen to Peter and Kathy explain what they hope will be some takeaways in our second question:

What are your BIG takeaways from your book that you hope teachers will embrace in their teaching practices?

Peter Johnston

• Social-emotional development is firmly in the bailiwick of the language arts and is important not only for children’s literate and intellectual development, but also for its own sake. Teaching is apprenticing humanity.  

• The ways we structure classroom talk matter enormously for children’s literate and social-emotional development.

• A lifelong learner is someone who finds it normal to initiate and actively pursue learning, overcoming obstacles as necessary by generating strategic solutions. That’s what children (and teachers) do when they’re engaged.

• Giving children more autonomy does not mean giving up authority, respect, or power—quite the reverse.

• For teachers and students, optimal conditions are the same: meaningfully engaged, caring, dialogical learning communities—also the foundation for a democratic society.

Kathy Champeau

What teachers believe, say, and do, matter greatly. When teachers and perhaps administrators are finished reading this book, I hope they will have an overwhelming sense that teachers and students flourish in caring and intellectually stimulating learning environments and have a better sense of how it might be done. Teachers are incredibly busy and days are packed. Maybe teachers will see that developing their students’ social/emotional lives alongside the academics is not only necessary but easier than they may have thought.

Embracing and facilitating students’ ability to think together is central to their classroom and the resulting intellectual fire will reap benefits for everyone. Our students have profound insights that are often left unnoticed. Uncover them. This understanding leads to students learning in classrooms where they have a sense of competence, belonging, and meaningfulness. There are many places in a fixed curriculum to allow students’ (and teachers’) thinking to permeate and by not allowing it actually can restrict learning. Simply setting students and themselves up as noticers, teachers, and researchers builds an identity and a sense of agency for ongoing learning that becomes part of who they are. This can be done day one. 

Another important piece is for teachers to view their classrooms through the eyes of their students. What does it feel like to be a student in my classroom today? Now? Trying to imagine it from a student’s perspective makes it easier to see places and spaces for students’ voices to be heard, not only to make room for that, but to facilitate a dialogic exchange.

The last piece is to embrace the why of what we are doing so as expert teachers who are on the cutting of our craft, we embrace the research world and the ongoing contributions that research makes in our practice. Without Peter’s wealth of research knowledge, integrally incorporated into the book to expand our thinking and understand the important why of what we do in our unique contexts, our decision-making would have been feeble at best. Making these important mindset shifts changes everything and it’s worth it!

I am so inspired by the transformative shifts they ask us to embrace that I’m going to frame my thinking around their inspired #G2Great chat tweets. As I perused their words of wisdom, key ideas began to emerge in the form of Steps to Embrace Change as a visible transformative reference. Since their tweets were so expansive in thinking, I could have used different examples to support each step or even used them interchangeably. My examples are those that first gently nudged my thinking with additional tweets at the end of this post I hope will gently nudge new thinking for you as well.   

Seven Steps to Embrace Change

#1: Embrace your own ‘letting go’

In our opening quote, letting go of “old habits and beliefs” is a precursor to the transformative change process we are invited to embark upon. Peter highlights that letting go of managing and control frees us to create rather than limit the engaging opportunities that will keep students at the center of the learning process. Kathy asks us to reconsider a day filled with teacher talk so that we can trust the impact when student voices fill the learning air and inform our thinking as they engage in opportunities to learn together. 

#2: Embrace Professional Learning

While Peter’s tweet was actually focused on letting go, it’s also a reminder that taking responsibility for our professional learning is essential to the change process. The teacher vignettes in this book are a perfect example since they were the result of long-time professional learning and support. Kathy reminds us to find professional co-conspirators who value their own learning and will read, study, initiate, learn and grow side by side with us as we multiply and enrich our shared growth process.

#3: Embrace Intentional Decision Making

Peter is asking us to examine our habits by paying attention to children who beckon us to make student centered instructional choices on their behalf. This requires us to be curious kidwatchers who use what we notice as a reflective mirror to change. Kathy adds to this kidwatching mindset by asking us to turn our thinking inward as we use this to envision day-to-day decision-making from the eyes of our learners. 

#4: Embrace Shared Responsibility

Peter reminds us of the impact of engagement when we are willing to begin to transfer responsibility to students. Giving students increasing control allows us to support their efforts and become a “resource for engagement.” Kathy highlights this sharing of responsibility so that children experience greater autonomy. This is not a one-time lesson but a constant process of sharing that role while also ensuring that students are taking responsibility for their growth as learners.

#5: Embrace Noticing and Extending

A central feature of Engaging Literate Minds is teachers as ‘noticers’ of student learning. Peter asks us to in turn help students become noticers of their own learning and use those noticings as a rich source of collaborative conversations that help students to become more learner aware. Kathy reminds us that noticing must also be followed by naming so that students will be privy to what we notice and can thus replicate and extend this in the future. It is this extending that is most likely to lead to transfer.

#6: Embrace Collective Engagement

I use ‘collective engagement’ intentionally as we embrace the essential collaborations that can maximize learning. Peter draws our attention to opportunities to value each member of the collective experience and avoid questions and tasks that limit their learning. Kathy’s use of “transformative” describes collective engagement within meaningful and authentic active literacy experiences. This transformational process focuses our sights on creating a culture of collective engagement rather than merely what we add into the schedule.

#7: Embrace Celebrating Literate Minds

And so we come full circle to the Literate Minds we are Engaging across the year on a daily basis. Peter reminds us that viewing children in this spirit can lead us to translating engaging literate minds into action when we make engagement and equity a priority. Kathy emphasizes engagement through experiences that will nurture student curiosity. Curiosity is the spark for engaging literate minds and it is our curiosity about children as learners and humans that keeps curiosity alive across the entire year. 

 As we come to the end of this post, I’d like to leave you with a “from the heart” message in the words of Peter Johnston and Kathy Champeau with our third question:

What is a message from the heart you would like for every teacher to keep in mind?

Peter Johnston

The value and complexities of teaching are generally underestimated by the public at large. It is hard work with big responsibilities and constant problems to solve. But it can be joyful, exciting work, with ample opportunities for learning and surprise. Although we show some wonderful classroom interactions in the book, and how to work towards them, they did not start that way and are not always that way. We did not include many examples that fell short of our hopes, but not because they didn’t happen. You will have them too. They are approximations and opportunities to learn.  In our experience, accumulating professional knowledge takes time, colleagues, collaborative persistence and problem-solving, a tolerance for approximation, and a long-term commitment.

Kathy Champeau 

We teachers matter. Teacher’s work is critical to who our students become, who we become, and what our world becomes. Teach with a sense of urgency. By constantly contemplating this question, “Who will my students become at the end of a year with me?” creates a sense of urgency for the work we do and the daily decisions we make. Realizing the power that we have in the lives of our students we serve can be daunting, if we think about it; however, we need to embrace that head-on. So, seek out professional mentors and experts who think with you and not for you. I believe that thinking teachers and thinking students, and teachers thinking with students, can change our classrooms, schools, communities and the world, for the better. Embrace the joyful. We have the power, let’s use it wisely. 


In their final question as well as across their book and in their tweets, Peter and Kathy remind us that teaching is joyful, exciting work and that each of us have the power to ensure that joy accompanies change for teachers and for children. Since I believe deeply that joyful learning can be infused into each moment of our day when we believe in engaging literate minds, I offer a final step in honor of this critical feature.

BONUS STEP: Embrace Joy

Peter’s words bring joyful learning and teaching into full view as we value student curiosity and the thinking their curiosity can awaken. Joy happens when we step back and become admirers of literate minds as children actively engage in peer supported learning and thinking. Kathy describes this joyful learning and thinking as a process that heightens engagement in ways that will “rock their world.” What could be more joyful than that?

If you are taking time to read this post, then you value your own learning. Knowing the challenge and delight of transformative change, then you also know that you do not have to do this work alone. Our colleagues and the clear descriptions of the teaching/learning process in Engaging Literate Minds offer a change roadmap in technicolor view. It is my hope that their words of wisdom and these seven steps inspired by Peter Johnston and Kathy Champeau will support those changes that have the greatest potential to transform the day to day decisions you make tin the name of children. In the end, this important work must take place when we make a commitment to engage literate minds where these changes will matter most – in the company of the children we honor with renewed perspective.  

On behalf of my #G2Great co-moderators and our incredible chat family, we would like to extend deep gratitude to Peter Johnston, Kathy Champeau and the generous teachers who invited us into their classrooms. As I close, I can envision their professional gift in the hands of educators’ everywhere.

And that brings me great joy!

And so I give Peter Johnston and Kathy Champeau the final words.

To continue your Engaging Literate Minds change journey, join principal Matt Renwick’s book study. Use this link to see the posting schedule and sign up or you can join the conversation using the hashtag #engaginglitminds on Twitter.

More inspired tweets from Peter Johnston and Kathy Champeau

Cultivating Genius

Blog Post by Brent Gilson

Wakelet archive of this chat can be found here

“We must start their stories and identities with their excellence.”

Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

Why this book? Why now?

The problems and absences in education were my motivations to write this book. These problems and absences include the lack of mandates and policies responding to the needs of children of color. I am tired of seeing the same state standards and mandates for teaching and learning. These do not fully give all youth a chance to have a full and quality life. Often times, these same standards do not include a clear equity model for teachers or leaders. I was tired of all youth not getting what they deserve. I wanted to present what a different way could be—one that reframes education for all. This new model uses Black historical excellence as a way forward.  We have to create a new foundation and system for youth to be better educated—one that is anti-racist and anti-oppressive. The theories and practices offered in this book will rejuvenate teaching and learning practices and will benefit students, leaders, teachers and teacher educations.

Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

I am currently reading Cultivating Genius by Dr. Gholdy Muhammad. This week I was excited to participate in our chat on #G2Great about her book. The chat was electric but that is what happens when looking at such a powerful text. Growing up in Canada I have a very limited view of American History, and what I did receive was definitely the white washed version. I most certainly was never introduced to anything about Black Literary Societies which are a key focus of this powerful text. The rich literacy history was carried out largely away from the view of the white-controlled education system. As I sit reading I am constantly amazed at how little I really knew and also the fact that these Black Literary Societies were so far ahead of their time when we look at the practices of today. A key point that came up many times in the chat and the book, is the success of our Black and Brown students in the traditionally Euro-centric schools. How these systems were not created to celebrate their excellence but that traditionally schools were created to keep that excellence down.

A question has been stuck in my head since the first few pages of this text. Why did white decision-makers not embrace these early literacy practices? The short answer, of course, is white supremacy but I feel it goes beyond just that.

We have students who have been left out of the educational decision-making process because of a desire to have a one size fits all approach. This has left our Black and Brown students to struggle within a system that was not created for them to succeed.

As I read and learn about the Historically Responsive Literacy Framework I can’t help but wonder how following this would not be best for all students.

So where do we go from here? Accepting that we have been underserving our Black and Brown students, what are our next steps? How do we begin to repair the damage and begin to Cultivate Genius? Dr. Muhammad presents this path in embracing the Historically Responsive Literacy Framework.

The ideas we need to embrace

The biggest takeaway is to steer away from Eurocentric practices and ways of being and instead move toward teaching and learning grounded in the excellence of Blackness. Blackness is a diverse group and no other group of people have our histories. For this reason, it is key that we use models offered from these rich histories of Blackness. Teaching with the historically responsive model (identity, skills, intellectualism and criticality) offered in the book will enable teachers to teach the whole child. This model will enrich pedagogy and teach youth to know themselves, to know others and be socio-conscious beings in the world.

Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

As I read and learn more about Anti-racist pedagogy Identity keeps coming up. If it is in Tiffany Jewell’s This book is anti-racist, Sarah K. Ahmed’s Being the Change or in this AMAZING post by Dr. Erica Buchanan-Rivera which lays out steps for parents to teach their kids about racism and starts with identity work. Identity seems key and as we look at the work of Dr. Muhammad we see Identity is a key piece of the historically responsive framework.

Once we come to a better understanding of both our identity and that of our students we must begin looking at the ways we will approach the skills that our students need to learn. It is not secret that at #G2Great we are not advocates of the worksheet so we hope that all work students are given is worthy of their brilliance. Dr. Muhammad offers her thoughts,

Skills instruction is a necessary piece of the framework. As we shared we looked at how those skills were taught. As I read Cultivating Genius I see the authentic manner of which skills were approached, as a piece of authentic learning. Why is it that we can’t do that more? What is getting in our way as educators? Who benefits from skill work in isolation? Beyond Worksheet publishers? So how do we build our intellect? How do we build our skills? The answer is one we know but in this framework it seems so powerful.

We read. So simple and yet so powerful.

We can’t stop at reading. Lately, we see so many educators talking about the books they are reading often offering up lists but stopping there. The final pillar in this framework is Criticality. How we look at, think about and question what we read and the situations we are faced with. There are no better words than Dr. Muhammad’s here

With Cultivating Genius Dr. Gholdy Muhammad has provided us with a framework that honours the history of Black Literary Societies. In doing this we also have a pathway to helping not just our Black and Brown students but all of us reach our potential through following this work. To close, Dr. Muhammad reflects on what in her heart she would like teachers to keep in mind as they begin to reflect on her work.

Love our children. Love our Black children. Love the ways they are silent, loud, and all the spaces in between. Love their culture and Blackness. If you are going to teach Black lives, say the words, “Black Lives Matter” and authentically infuse activism and criticality into your teaching practices. Use Blackness as a model to understand other youth who have been marginalized or underserved. Don’t treat students of color as if they have deficiencies or as if you need to save them. We need to see the genius in them and start their stories off with genius and not with the things the system has created.

-Dr. Gholdy Muhammad

Reflecting on My Beliefs: Values + Promises for the Future

Guest Blogger, Julie Wright

On 6/11/20, #G2Great celebrated this chat topic with the artifacts here. We asked Julie Wright to write our chat blog and we are so grateful for her wisdom. Be sure to see how you can explore Julie’s incredible work at the end of her post. We are so honored to share this post:


In the book, The Teacher You Want To Be, Heidi Mills and Tim O’Keefe write:  

“The beliefs we hold as teachers matter.  They always have and always will.  Whether we realize it or not, our beliefs actually underpin the moves we make as teachers, regardless of where or whom we teach.  Beliefs also serve as the catalyst for, or limitation of, professional growth and change.” 

Like many of you, I lean on the shoulders of other educators to help guide my thinking and my moves forward.  I appreciate this quote because it gives me courage to name what matters and use that as a catalyst for my own professional growth.  Beliefs are our guide, our command center.  They help us make sense of what is happening around us and ultimately help us chart our course.  Our beliefs, however, don’t show up by happenstance.  They are molded over time and based on our past experiences, background knowledge, and environment.  They are also dynamic, not static.  The more we learn and experience, the more our beliefs can evolve, deepen, or take on a new shape. For me, beliefs are like:

ANCHORS— helping us stay grounded and articulating what matters most in our work 

SAILS — helping us navigate, adjust, and change course when needed

Last week’s #G2GREAT chat is an amazing example of our learning community coming together to name our collective beliefs, build our background knowledge, share our experiences and grow!  The title of the chat, Reflecting on My Beliefs:  Values + Promises for the Future, says so much about beliefs at the onset.  The title affirms the importance of leaning on beliefs to name values and then living out those values, through promises, in the future.  This chat was not filled with educators telling one another what to believe and how to take action. Rather, it was filled with a network of people — ranging from K-12 students through adult learners — naming what matters most and making promises for how they will live out their beliefs in future actions!   

There is so much wisdom and hope tucked inside this chat.  Sometimes, we can let words lead us in powerful directions which is why I decided to use the responses from each question to synthesize the thinking through word art.  Take a look at all of the amazing ideas that stand out!

Question 1:  Because I value my students’ identities, I promise that my instruction and classroom environment will include . . .  And this matters because . . .

All of the images were created using Word Cloud at

Question 2: Because I value equity in access, resources, and our 24/7 lives, I promise that my instruction and classroom environment will include . . . And this matters because . . .

Question 3: Because I value safety (emotional, physical, and psychological) for all my students, I promise that my instruction and classroom environment will include . . . And this matters because . . .

Question 4: Because I value students “doing the work of learning,” I promise that my instruction and classroom environment will include . . . And this matters because . . .  

Question 5: Because I value feedback that includes verbal, non-verbal and work products, I promise that my instruction and classroom environment will include . . . And this matters because . . .

Question 6: Because I value choice and purposeful work as well as multiple pathways to “show”  learning, I promise that my instruction and classroom environment will include . . . And this matters because . . .

Question 7: Because I value learning for myself and all caregivers in our environment, I promise that my instruction and classroom environment will include . . . And this matters because . . .

Question 8: Because I value joyful teaching and learning, I promise that my instruction and classroom environment will include . . . And this matters because . . .

I enjoyed seeing all of these words come to the forefront of our collective thinking.  Words and ideas connect us.  They give us a common ground.  The words that emerged from our Tweets this week give us common language that brings us together.  Our words inspire, name importance, celebrate, and nudge us to think deeply, sometimes think differently, and always think together in a safe and caring space.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t share a final word art that synthesizes our entire chat.  

What do WE believe?  What do WE value?  What are OUR promises for the future?

I’m thankful and blessed to be in your company and part of this professional learning think tank.  And, as we know, we’ve still got a lot of work to do.  We have to do our part in listening, studying, researching, reading, writing, talking, noodling, planning, reaching out, and sometimes standing down while other times standing up.  I have confidence that we’ll be nimble in our approaches knowing that as we grow and have new experiences, our beliefs, actions and our promises will evolve too!  We’ll use our past and new knowledge and experiences to anchor our beliefs, adjust our sails and fulfill our promises to the learning communities in which we serve.

Links to contact Julie Wright or learn more about her work


What are You Grouping For?, Grades 3-8: How to Guided Small Groups Based on Readings for – Not the Book

Future Publications can be found

Leaning into Our Own Vulnerability to Find a Path Forward

From the #G2Great Leadership Team

#G2Great will not hold its weekly chat, Thursday, June 4, 2020.

Vulnerability is basically uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.
– Brene Brown

Vulnerability has been a part of our lives since the pandemic caused us to shelter in place and restricted our lives in March 2020. Because we, the #G2Great leadership team, live in different spaces across the US and Canada, our individual responses have varied. One shared truth is that we still don’t know how this will end. As a team we have celebrated our struggles and successes both personally and collectively. 

And then last week the murder of George Floyd with four police officers charged in Minneapolis became the tipping point as the video of eight minutes and 45 seconds of pleading by George and bystanders went viral. Breonna Taylor was murdered by police in her own home in Louisville. And Amy Cooper dialed 911 as she herself was breaking the leash law in Central Park in order to claim that she was being attacked by a Black man who calmly videoed the incident. It’s a world where being Black is dangerous. A world that our friends have always known as dangerous. A world of oppression that in our ignorance brought communities out into the streets in protest as the danger and sadness escalates daily. Violent. Senseless. Shameful.

Our #G2Great leadership team is broken-hearted over these recent events of racism in our world. Our collective grief leads us to think of actions that can help to nurture communities of support during a time of tragic loss of life from both violence and illness. Due to recent events and the need to elevate #BlackLivesMatter, we made the decision as a team to cancel our chat (June 4, 2020). We believe that our hearts are needed elsewhere and we knew that Kidlit Rally for Black Lives was a good place to start.  

In this time of overwhelming vulnerability we wonder: What can we do? What should we do? What are we doing? Are these questions weighing on you now? We are still trying to answer those questions for ourselves, but we hope that one of the following will spark your own ideas or actions because it is ultimately . . . up to each of us to determine what steps we will take in the coming days! 


What can we do?

  • Seek the truth.
  • Look inward.
  • Reflect on our own beliefs
  • Question. 
  • Speak out.
  • Align ourselves with our Black friends.
  • Increase our “Ally” status.
  • Strive to be anti-racist.
  • Share the words of others
  • Become Co-conspirators 

What should we do?

  • Amplify the voices of others.
  • Raise our own voices in support.
  • Work together as a community.
  • Discuss these issues with our families, in our work spaces and in our community.
  • Donate (see resource links in the table below) 

What are we doing?

  • Continuing to study.
  • Continuing to have conversations.
  • Continuing to be vulnerable.
  • Acknowledge that we don’t claim to have answers.
  • Continuing to ask ourselves:  What am I doing?  Am I doing enough?
  • We promise to stand with our Black colleagues in solidarity.

As a #G2Great leadership team we must express the range of emotions that we, like many of you, have felt:  heartfelt sadness, shock, anger, disgust, and rage. We recognize that as White educators we must do more to speak out against racism and the oppression and violence that it brings. But there is so much more to do and we are working to learn together to face these issues side by side with educators in their classrooms and communities to pushback and promote Antiracist practices. We know we must work together as a community. Yes, these events are current but they are not new and we have collectively as white educators chosen to remain comfortable rather than confront these inequities. We have a long way to go but we vow to look at our work and learn to be better allies on our journey to anti-racism.

Being vulnerable does not mean inaction. It does not mean certainty. It does mean taking a stance. We recognize that failure to act leaves one complicit in racist activities even as a witness. Historically, silence is violence.  We must take steps forward to improve the world by seeking change in our own communities..

We see you!

We stand beside you!

We love you! ❤️

DONATIONS: Official George Floyd Memorial Fund Minnesota Freedom Fun… Louisville Community Bail Fund North Star Health Collective… Reclaim The Block…  Black Visions Donations
#31DaysofBIPOC (2020 and 2019)
BIPOC Project
Cornelius Minor: Why #BlackLivesMatter in Your Classrooms Too 
Chad Everett: For the Thomases Among You 
How to Be an Antiracist (Ibram X Kendi)
This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work (Tiffany Jewel)
White Fragility (Robin Diangelo)
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (Jason Reynolds & Ibram X Kendi)
Cultivating Genius (Gholdy Muhammad)
White Kids: Growing Up with Privilege in a Racially Divided World (Margaret A Hagerman)
We Want to do More than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom (Dr. Bettina Love)
Podcasts:  #BlackLivesMatter
Youtube:  I Just Want to Live
School Library Journal keynote with Jason Reynolds and Ibram Kendi
Cornelius Minor: Disrupting a Destructive Cycle, Part 1/2 (ILA Keynote)
Kidlit Rally for Black Lives – The Brown Bookshelf
Anti Racism Resources: Document compiled by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein May 2020
Jennifer Gonzalez Twitter Thread 
Jessica Lifshitz Twitter Thread 
Jess Lifshitz: To White Educators: We Must Remember Our Anger When
Anger Feels Less Comfortable 
Jess Lifshitz Beyond the Statements: Doing the Work to Create More Anti-Racist School Districts
Joe Truss: Culturally Responsive Leadership Tweet Thread 
Paul Thomas: U.S. Policing a Systemic, not a “Bad Apple” Problem 
Paul Thomas:  Imagine a United States … 
Thoughts on a Way Forward: An Interview with Cornelius Minor by Lanny Ball.
Cornelius Minor: Why #BlackLivesMatter in Your Classrooms Too: 
Cornelius Minor and Kass Minor: Engaging in Community Literacy during Racially Divergent Times (Guide and Curation of Resources)
31 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism, and
Kylene Beers Video Message: Join me as I share one way to do something
to make kids’ lives better. What Can I do right now? 
Brent Gilson: After the Books 
Teachers Must Hold Themselves Accountable for Dismantling Racial Oppression 
Corinne Shutak 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice 
Franki Sibberson: You Can’t Be Neutral 

Keeping Curiosity Close

by Jenn Hayhurst

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At the start of this school year, not one of us could have imagined how strange and unfamiliar the educational landscape would appear to us today. A pandemic has changed our educational speak to include words and phrases like: distance learning, Google Classroom, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, mute your mic, remember to sign in, turn on your camera, and virtual… well just fill-in-the-blank on that one. Our classrooms are no longer physical spaces, they are virtual, and filling those spaces, is very different from what was before.

How do we make the most of our “new normal”? As we use the eye of our cameras to enter into students’ homes we can embrace their interests, encourage their questions, and find lots of ways to celebrate them and all that they are. We are also inviting them into our homes. With curious eyes, they are learning about our interests, and this experience, I believe is helping them to get to know their teachers in new and powerful ways. We can use this distance from our students to help them see their world through curious eyes. So as we close out the 2019/2020 school year, #G2Great educators came together to discuss curiosity and what we really want for our students.

We Want More Happiness!

As we dug a little deeper into curiosity we found that it glistens as a bright light for happiness. Curiosity is the thing that feeds our hearts and motivates us all to live more satisfying lives. This is true for us and it’s true for our students. How do we do make the most of it? We can embed curiosity into all aspects of the gradual release: the “to” “with” and “by” for instruction:


We Want More Creativity!

In my mind’s eye, I imagine looking at curiosity as a gemologist may examine a precious stone through a jeweler’s eye. How do we estimate its value when it comes to creativity? One way would be to celebrate the high levels of engagement creativity generates. Another would be to consider the high levels of critical thinking that goes hand-in-hand with a curious mind. Writing, building, and brainstorming ideas are all products of creativity that is unearthed through curiosity:

We Want More Self Reliance!

Teachers are able to sift through the silt of the academic day and find nuggets of curiosity. They find them, they shine them up and put them on display for all to admire. This is how they build a culture of curiosity, one with a strong foundation of self-reliance. These classrooms are not hard to identify, just look to the students

To see the world through the eyes of a curious learner is perhaps the best perspective we may offer our students. I for one have been reminded of how important it is to keep curiosity close to inform my teaching. Let’s make a pact just as we might have when we were kids. Say it with me: I promise to try to look for ways to increase curiosity and happiness! I promise to find ways to be creative and find curiosity in everyday life! I promise to celebrate self-reliance and curiosity every step of the way! Indeed curiosity is a hidden gem that we may take with us for having gone through this experience. Use it well.