Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors: Understanding and Appreciating the Cultures Around Us through Multicultural Texts

School: Peterson Elementary
Number of Students: 672
Amount: 1775

This grant will provide 5 culturally-diverse books to each classroom teacher that focus on the cultures and traditions that are represented in their classrooms. Each grade level will receive a different set of 5 books so that students will be exposed to multiple titles during their K-5 education.

  • Grant Info

    Grant Title: Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors: Understanding and Appreciating the Cultures Around Us through Multicultural Texts
    Submitted By: Becky Graske
    Co-Writers: Amy Lokken, Katie Ammons, Persis Sidhwa
    School Name: Peterson Elementary
    School Address: 4008 Chinaberry Lane, Naperville, IL, 60564
    Principal Name: Allison Landstrom
    Other Grants Awarded: Stopping the Summer Slide in Students from Low Socio-Economic Backgrounds (Becky Graske, Georgetown Elementary 2011)
    Other Grants Applied For This Year: None
    Number of Students: 672
    Grade Level: K-5
    Dollar Amount Requested: 1775
  • Score

    Applicants Beliefs About Literacy: Peterson Elementary has traditionally been a diverse school where many Asian cultures have been represented. Since 2015, our Asian population has risen significantly. In 2015, 37% of our student population identified as Asian, whereas in 2019, 56% of the school population identified as Asian. Throughout the school, we have 29 different languages that are spoken in the homes of our students including Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Kannada, Gujarati, Urdu, and Hindi among many others, and 94 of our students receive ELL services. It is important that we represent our culturally diverse classrooms in the literature we are placing in our students’ and teachers' hands. When we do this, we foster positive self-esteem for students who may not typically see themselves represented in the adults and students around them, help break down cultural barriers and misconceptions, help our students have a wider world view, encourage students to look more critically at the world, and show our minority students that their beliefs and experiences are valued. In addition, by placing more culturally diverse literature in our classrooms, our students will more likely want to pick up books since they see themselves and their culture reflected in them. The purpose of this grant is to help begin to build classroom teachers’ libraries and repertoires of read alouds to include texts that are representative of the students that are in their classrooms. It is of great importance to increase cultural awareness, sensitivity, and competency of our students through the appreciation and acceptance of differences in their fellow peers. An ideal way to do this is through multicultural texts that not only help students develop a deeper understanding of the reading process, use higher level thinking skills such as inferring and synthesizing information, but also encourages and supports educators like us to reach all of our students at their varying reading and intellectual levels. Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita of Education at The Ohio State University, shares the analogy of multicultural texts serving as mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Multicultural books can be mirrors because our students have the opportunity to see themselves and their lived experiences reflected within them. They are windows because they provide an opportunity for our students to look through and see other worlds and cultures they may not otherwise be exposed to. Finally, multicultural texts can be sliding glass doors-allowing our students to not just see other worlds, but enter into those worlds as well, providing personal connections different from their own. Bishop believes that it is not just our students who are typically underrepresented in text that need to be exposed to these books, but ALL our students so that they can better understand the diversity in our world. Peterson Elementary has an Equity Action Group which meets monthly. The purpose of this action group is to recognize and celebrate ALL students. Members of this group spend time focusing on ensuring all cultures are represented and celebrated in our building and classrooms. We reached out to classroom teachers at each grade level to share 5 books that they felt were reflective of the students in their classrooms and that they would like to have added to their classroom libraries and to share with their students as read alouds. The texts they chose are below: Kindergarten Texts: The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk by Kabir Sehgal All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold Always Anjali by Sheetal Sheth and Jessica Blank I’m NOT just a Scribble by Diane Alber Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller 1st Grade Texts Finders Keepers? A Bus Trip to India by Robert Arnett The Elephant’s Friend by Marcia Williams Living in India by Chloe Perkins Lailah’s Lunchbox by Reem Faruqi and Lea Lyon Listening With My Heart by Gabi Garcia and Ying Hui Tan 2nd Grade Texts Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh by Supriya Kelkar 3rd Grade Texts The Bad Seed by Jory John A Handful of Buttons by Carmen Parets Lugue Save Me a Seat by Sara Weeks and Gita Varadarajan The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Shane W. Evans Sulwae by Lupita Nyong’o and Vashti Harrison 4th Grade Texts The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan and Mehrdokht Amini I am Enough by Grace Byers and Keturah A. Bobo Four Feet Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed Emanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls 5th Grade Texts More to the Story by Hena Khan Mountain Chef by Annette Bay Pimentel At the Same Moment Around the World by Clautilde Perrin Looking Like Me by Walter Dean Myers One Green Apple by Eve Bunting The purpose of this grant is to provide each classroom teacher the aforementioned culturally-diverse books, so that each teacher would be receiving 5 books. Since each grade level has chosen different texts, there are multiple titles students will be exposed to throughout their K-5 education. These books will be used both as read alouds and placed in classroom libraries for students to read. These books will be the building blocks for teachers to start building up their classroom libraries and read alouds to represent the many cultures within their classroom. We want to provide teachers the opportunity to immerse their students in literature that inspires them to put themselves in other people's shoes and create a safe non-judgmental atmosphere for students of all cultural backgrounds. The multicultural literary works have been chosen to expose students to the thoughts and feelings of different cultures and allow them to come into direct contact and sympathy with the thoughts and feelings of others. We want an opportunity to create mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors for ALL of our students.
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  • How does this grant promote the development of literacy for learners?0
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  • Does this grant provide professional development opportunities for educators (resources for programs and staff development)?
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  • Please clarify your personal belief system about literacy and learning that is reflected in your practice?Before receiving the books, teachers will fill out a survey asking them questions about how well they believe the books they have or are reading with their students reflect their students’ cultures. We will also ask teachers to respond about how well they feel like they understand the cultures and backgrounds of the students in their classroom. After teachers have been given time to use the new books, along with the other resources we provide them through our Equity Action Group, we will ask teachers to complete the same survey. We will compare the answers from the first survey with the second survey to determine the effectiveness of our plan. We are hoping that providing our classroom teachers with these books, along with our plan, will be something that spearheads major transformations in our teachers’ selection of books.. Students will also fill out an age-appropriate survey, asking them to share their feelings about how well the books in their classroom represent themselves and their own culture, as well as their understanding of other cultures around them. After reading the multicultural books provided through this grant, they will take the survey again. They will also have an opportunity to share other thoughts or opinions about the books, as well as reflect on their understanding of the cultures of other students. The results from this survey will help us determine if these books have had the impact that we hope they will, and will encourage our school community to increase the number of multicultural books for our students and classrooms.
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  • Does this grant develop a deeper understanding of the reading and/or writing processes?
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  • How does this grant lay the foundation for creating life-long readers, writers, and learners?
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  • Does this grant provide opportunities that link literacy at home and school?
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  • Assessment PlanPlease see attached spreadsheet.
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  • Itemized & Detailed BudgetOur beliefs about literacy are based on our collective experiences as classroom teachers, reading specialists, ELL teachers, and as parents ourselves. We believe that literacy is the foundation of all learning, beginning at birth and continuing throughout one’s lifetime. We believe that literacy is fostered both at home and in school and that partnership is essential for maximum learning. We believe that adults should be strong literacy models both at home and at school. We believe that literacy learning should take place in natural contexts and should focus on students’ interests, as well as reflect our students’ diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. We believe that all children have the right to a strong literacy foundation and we as literacy professionals, should do everything in our power to help provide it to them. We believe that literacy instruction in the school should be based on current research and research-based practices, as well as each student’s developmental level. We believe teachers should provide literacy-rich environments. We believe educators who teach literacy need to know how to teach students of all needs including ELL students, special education students, and students from all socio-econonmic backgrounds. Last, we believe literacy assessment in schools should be used primarily as a basis for driving instruction and helping move along literacy learning to best meet the needs of all students. In addition, as teachers in a school with a rapidly rising Asian population, we believe that we need to represent our culturally diverse classrooms and home environments in the literature we share with students. We want to foster positive self-esteem for students who may not see themselves represented in the adults, students, and literature around them, and keep them from feeling isolated. We feel that exposing students to a variety of multicultural literature helps students to not be ethnocentric as well as helps to break down cultural barriers and misconceptions. This helps students to have acceptance, respect and empathy for one another. We want students to see themselves in the literature that is read in school, as well as see and learn about others who may be different from them. Students need to understand the values and belief systems of other cultures. We believe that multicultural literature also helps students to have a wider world view and introduces them to cultural issues in an age-appropriate way. It helps them to have a more global perspective and look more critically at the world, especially in the upper elementary grades. Multicultural literature helps our minority students to see that their beliefs and experiences are valued. In addition, when students see their culture or themselves reflected in books, they are more likely to want to pick up that book.
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