California Educator

February/March 2021

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about the importance of reaching scientific conclusions based on facts. "We talked about people believing in 'alternative facts' and that when you don't research facts, it can lead to dangerous conclusions. We discussed that 'facts are facts,' and you don't have to give equal time to things you know are not true. e teachable moment for students was understanding that some people wanted to believe in something that wasn't factual, and then they held on to an idea and let it grow and fester until it became their reality." Dawn Matthews, AP U.S. history teacher at Livermore High School, tweaked a lesson from Facing History and Ourselves, an organization that uses lessons of histor y to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. She asked students to ponder a quote by James Baldwin : "American history is longer, larger, more various, more beau- tiful and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it." She posed three questions: What did students know about what happened Jan. 6? What would they like to know? How did they feel about it? "The biggest takeaway was that students believed a lot of misinformation had been circulating. They emphasized the importance of media literacy and accurate news sources, so that people can determine whether the information they are receiving is accurate or not," says the Livermore Education Association member. "It was pretty clear they knew that a lot was at stake — the foundation of our democracy and the peace- ful transfer of power." She was pleased that the discussion was unbiased and respectful of all views. "Even my students who identify as conservatives and supporters of President Trump felt what they witnessed was pretty horrific and were upset about seeing police attacked at the Capitol." Jeni Williams' discussion with students went in an entirely different direction, says the Hayward Education Association member who teaches students with mild to moderate disabilities at Glassbrook Elementary School. Her sixth graders were struck by the extreme anger of those who invaded the Capitol building and said they had never seen adults behave that way. Students with special needs often have anger issues too, so she used the event as a discussion tool for how to deal with their emotions. "We talked about what can make someone angry in general — and what kinds of things make them angry. Then we talked about things we can do to diffuse our anger, such as walking away, watching YouTube videos and giving yourself space." "From a special ed perspective, we used the event as a social-emotional learning moment," says Williams. "What happened in Washington offered my students a very valuable life lesson." For more guidance, read "Talking to Kids About the Attack on the Capitol" at "[Our district's slide show] explained that the Constitution and the First Amendment does not protect the right of people to be violent or prevent government from doing its job." —Katie Uppman, Monterey Bay Teachers Association " Students felt there was a great deal of hypocrisy. They expressed feelings of bewilderment and disappointment. … It was gratifying to hear them speak their minds so well." — Kirk Taylor, Santa Barbara Teachers Association " We talked about people believing in 'alternative facts' and that when you don't research facts, it can lead to dangerous conclusions." — David Budai, Coachella Valley Teachers Association 46 Teaching & Learning

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