Perspective Through Picture Books: The Empty Pot Lesson Walk Through for K/1 Students
1. Choose a Book: The Empty Pot | Lexile: 630
3. Background Knowledge: After thinking about our students and what we had covered that year so far, we chose the background knowledge our students would need in order to truly grasp the key understandings from The Empty Pot. We chose to teach them about integrity, emperors, and seeds BEFORE we ever read the book. According to Robert Marzano, “What students already know about the content is one of the strongest indicators of how well they will learn new information relative to the content” (2004, p. 1).
Even though the word integrity isn’t found anywhere in this text. LaNesha and I could see clearly that this is the perspective our students would gain, and made sure to teach our students what this word meant. You can use nonfiction texts, lecture style, YouTube, games, whatever you want to build background knowledge!
4. Anchor Chart/Graphic Organizer: We thought about the best chart to generate WITH y=our students EACH DAY of the lesson. (You will stay in the same book until all standards are covered and all lessons are learned!) We ended up with 7 anchor charts in all. 3 for the background knowledge and the other 4 covered characters and setting, character feelings, retelling the story, and comparing and contrasting.
5. Create a Focus: We planned out each day using the background knowledge and standards as a guide. We broke up the standards in a way that made sense for us. We planned 3-5 comprehension questions for each day to assess student knowledge and to help our students have high level discussions about the book.
Day 1: Learn about integrity.
Day 2: Learn about emperors.
Day 3: Learn about seeds.
Day 4: RL.1.1, RL.1.3, RL.1.7
(Examples of daily questions for Day 4)
Day 5: RL.1.2, RL.1.5, RL.1.6
Day 6: RL.1.4
Day 7: RL.1.9
6. Create a Culminating Task: With the help of all of our amazing anchor charts, the daily discussions, and the comprehension of the text, we decided to make this text’s culminating task a debate! Students were pulling in everything they learned to support their arguments and it was amazing!!!
This was definitely a class favorite! They talked about this debate for the remainder of the year.
Plan your own lesson or buy ours here:
“All my life, I have navigated the land mines of living Black in America, but along the way I have collected a strong network of white friends who pass the test I use for any person I call a friend, no matter what color. They are comfortable in their own skin, can talk about race without hyperventilating, are loyal and committed to the common good, have the courage of their convictions, are fun and interesting — and they never, ever ask to touch my hair.
The fight for racial justice must be fought on all fronts — ideally with a multiracial coalition — in the streets, in the courts, in the voting booth, in the workplace and even at the dinner table, where the seeds of justice or bias are often first planted.” -Judy Belk
My therapist and I were chatting today about interracial and cross cultural friendships. We talked about the value in having friends that show up and have your back especially where the rubber meets the road. If I don’t feel safe with you or know without a shadow of a doubt that you have my back, including racially, I can not begin a friendship or remain in that friendship.
I’ve befriended many people that later turned around and hurt me with racist words or actions later on. I’m a lot wiser and pickier now and I’m a better person for it.
I know some people will think it’s mean or claim they are more mature because they don’t let “politics” ruin their friendships. Well, I sure do.
The Racism We Don’t See
The main problem with people like Johnathan Pentland in South Carolina is not the racism they go viral for, but all of the many other times they could have, but didn’t.
The ideas they promote, the people they influence, the decisions they make or fail to make daily, the children they raise, the people they hire, the people they fire….it all matters.
In a similar fashion, it’s not just the headline scandals that make the news about racism in schools, it’s the racism that happen in classrooms DAILY and harms ALL children.
It’s the gifted Black child that is misunderstood and never identified as gifted. It is the white child that needs Sped services, but is given the benefit of doubt and passed on from grade level to grade level without intervention. It’s the students who are assumed to be less than because of where they live or the other language they speak at home.
It’s the assumptions made about a family because the the religion they follow (or don’t) and how that impacts relationships with the family. It’s the students who aren’t served well because stereotypes and bias distort what the teacher can see. It’s the child suspended and removed from the classroom without anyone identifying the teacher as the potential problem.
It’s the children who are or aren’t encouraged to follow certain paths based on their racial or ethnic background. This harm can come from everyone’s favorite IG kindergarten teacher, the sweet and bubbly teacher of the year, or even the teacher who thinks he/she/they have no work to do because they read that one book last summer.
It’s the racist harm caused with good intention. It’s the failure to continue to examine our own biases and push ourselves to be better. We have been raised and conditioned in a racist society. There is always work to do in ourselves… even the “wokest” of us.
Talk About Racism
I refuse to spend my days individually explaining to people why this line of thinking is problematic.
If I were to stop talking about racism that would in no way help to end it. Talking, learning, and teaching about white supremacy, biases, and systematic racism can help us work to end racism.
People love to argue that enslavement started and ended so long ago and that people just need to get over it. It actually didn’t end that long ago and racism is its legacy that is still around today.
This country has never fully acknowledged its past or worked to rectify it.
When do we start honoring broken treaties and giving stolen land back? Where are the reparations?
Where is our National Day of Morning for Enslaved People? You know the day all Americans come together and say, “Never forget,” and there are acts of service done around the country and we acknowledge the atrocities of the past, cry, celebrate, and remember the millions of lives lost, and continue to work on ensuring a future filled with equal treatment for all?
And don’t say this happens on the Fourth of July. And Juneteenth is hardly a day that every American (I don’t care what color they are- Black, white, purple, striped, and or spotted) celebrates, remembers and honors the past. Why not? Because it was so long ago? We have Civil War Reenactments, Rebel flags flying, Antebellum South parties, and schools named after Confederate soldiers and colonizing explorers. Where’s the same energy for Black and Indigenous peoples?
When do we start looking back in our family trees and 23 & Me results not just to have something cool to post on social media, but to find out whose family we might owe land, property, and/or money to?
When will African American studies be a part of the curriculum and not an elective?
We do need to talk about these things and learn about these things.
If your suggestions about ending racism sound like, “If only _________ would happen, racism would end.” I hope you’re filling in that blank with something that attacks white supremacy.
Your ideas about ending white supremacy should critique the oppressor and not the oppressed.