BlogWalker

Muddling through the blogosphere

November 19, 2020
by blogwalker
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JFK – Retro Report Brings Back Memories

A huge benefit of the Internet is having 24/7 access to a growing treasure trove of national archives (i.e., Library of Congress, Smithsonian, National Archives and Records Administration) housing primary sources (documents, newspapers, interviews, videos, etc.) that provide a window into the past. As a 1999 Library of Congress Fellow, I’ve been watching collections grow for 20+ years. I love directing students to the Google Newspaper Archives, for instance, where they can read about historical events in the moment, as they were actually unfolding.

Recently, I began following RetroReport.org, whose mission is to:

“to arm the public with a more complete picture of today’s most important stories. We correct the record, expose myths and provide historical context to the fast-paced news of our world today using investigative journalism and narrative storytelling.”

This valuable and rapidly expanding resource helps teachers and students make connections between then and there to here and now.

On Tuesday, I had the opportunity to join a thought-provoking RetroReport presentation. This fast-moving Zoom session, sponsored by TOLI (The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Students and Human Rights), focused on the documentary Conspiracy Theories and Fake News from JFK to Pizzagate:

I grew up in California’s Bay Area, where I attended St. Joseph’s High School in Berkeley. As a sophomore, I can remember the infectious excitement of my teachers and principal as they informed us that President John F. Kennedy would be visiting California and that we would have the opportunity to line up on University Avenue to watch his motorcade on its way to the UC Berkeley campus.

President John F. Kennedy’s motorcade to UC Berkeley, March 23, 1962. Offsite contributor, part of NARA collection.

As a redhead, I was struck by the slightly auburn highlights in the President’s hair as his motorcade passed by on a beautiful, sunny Berkeley day. This historic event was the first time I stood with classmates, teachers, and hundreds and hundreds of others to cheer on – and stand in awe of – a President of the United States. An unforgettable moment for a 15-year old.

Nor will I ever forget where I was sitting on November 22, 1963 (3rd row back in my typing class), when our principal came over the PA system to announce that President Kennedy had been shot. She did not tell us at the time that the President had been killed. A pulpable sadness and silence enveloped our tiny one-building campus. Like so many parents who came to pick up their children, it was my mother who told me our President was dead.

I have not been able to find a copyright-free image photo of John John saluting as his father’s casket passed in front of him. As a family, we did not discuss politics, so I’m not even sure if my parents voted Democratic or Republican. Almost 60 years later, I still remember watching the funeral on TV and – for the first time in my life – seeing my father pull out a handkerchief to contain his sobs in response to John John’s iconic salute.

JFK’s family leaves Capitol after his funeral

After spending my junior year in college abroad (Pavia, Italy), my final stop on my journey back to the States was Ireland. Never had I seen so many photos of JFK on display. From shops to pubs – and even on the bathroom door of the B&B where I was staying (yes, that seemed a bit much, when seated on the toilet, to be eye-to-eye with the President), Ireland still mourned the passing of JFK.

I am aware of the steady, ongoing stream of conspiracy theories, which emerged soon after the assassination of JFK via radio, television, newspapers, and magazines. I ignored them then; I ignore them now. Today, of course, with the availability of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, we have seen that anyone anywhere can instantly and effortlessly accelerate the spread of “fake news” and conspiracy theories.

In July, I retired from a job I loved: teacher/technology integration specialist for a wonderful school district. I have blogged many times of the amazing learning adventures my colleague Kathleen Watt and I have shared over the years. As coordinators of the district’s digital citizenship program, we’ve developed, gathered and curated resources to help teachers bring media literacy into their toolkits. Working with outstanding organizations such as Common Sense Media, PBS/KVIE, and more, our goal had initially been to promote media literacy for students, our target audience.

Then came Pizzagate. When Edgar Welch entered Washington DC’s Comet Pizzeria to rescue children he believed were being hidden and sexually abused, this was a wake-up call. In an age of misinformation/disinformation, we (adults) also need media literacy skills. We started gathering and posting resources and offering districtwide and statewide (CUE, California League of Schools) workshops…

Annual CUE Conference session

… and creating lessons for detecting misinformation/disinformation, including our Flex Your Fact-Checking Muscles: Read Laterally hyperdoc lesson – and accompanying poster (below).

Lateral reading poster

As an educator and a citizen, I pledge to question and speak out against false information – on both sides of the political spectrum. More than ever, I appreciate organizations such as Retro Report that bring history alive and allow us to step into and learn from the past.

Decades later, I still carry the images of JFK, along with Jackie (in her pink suit), Caroline and John John in my heart. Every trip to Dallas, to visit my son, we always include a drive to the Grassy Knoll and a walk past the former Texas School Book Depository, where we stop to gaze up at the sixth-floor window and to honor the legacy of President John F. Kennedy.

Thank you again, Retro Report, for your commitment to make visible how the past connects to the present – and helps shape the future.

JKF plague on the Grassy Knoll, Dallas, TX

April 25, 2020
by blogwalker
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Redefining Resilience

Resilience: an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Merriam Webster 2020

Although I like the conciseness of Merriam Webster’s definition of resilience, I believe resilience often includes the ability to recover from more than misfortune. In the case of genocide, for instance, resilience requires the ability to recover from not only bad luck and an unhappy situation, but also the unthinkable, the unspeakable.

Two stories that meet my evolving definition of resilience stem from two separate events: the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide (which happened just 26 years ago, with nearly 1,000,000 people murdered over the course of 100 days).

The stories of Irving Roth and Carl Wilkens go beyond dealing with misfortune and adjusting easily.

The Holocaust

I first met Irving Roth in 2008, when I traveled to New York City to participate in the TOLI (The Olga Lengyel Institute of Holocaust Studies and Human Rights) Summer Institute. Over the course of two weeks, we (25 teachers) joined Holocaust survivors and scholars to think creatively and collaboratively about how to teach the Holocaust, genocide, and social justice issues.

Irving joined us at Olga’s table on Day 2 of the Institute. As he shared memories from his childhood, his experiences in Auschwitz, a “death march,” and his last days in Buchenwald, I wondered how did he do it? How did he survive unthinkable, unspeakable events and still find the strength, will, and even humor to move on and build a new life in America? Each time I listen to his interview, I stand in awe of Irving’s unwavering resilience. (Click on the image below to access Irving’s interview.)

Last week, I connected again with Irving, this time via a Zoom call, three days after his 90th birthday. Yes, he continues to redefine resilience, ending the session with a call to action. #NeverForget #NeverAgain.

Rwanda

The summer of 2016, I joined humanitarian Carl Wilkens on a life-changing trip to Rwanda. Carl was the only American to remain in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. As we traveled across the country, visiting key sites and memorials and meeting with genocide survivors, we marveled at Rwandans’ ability to forgive and to rebuild their neighborhoods, communities, and country. We saw resilience redefined and at the forefront of everyday actions as such as village members coming together on a Saturday morning to work on a community project (gacaca) or the Rwandan men’s cycling team in training for upcoming competitions:

Thanks to Zoom, I’m able to reconnect with Carl and our fellow travelers for a weekly call. We are currently watching Ghosts of Rwanda as part of a collaborative discussion.

The film provides a timeline and a window into the genocide – including the role Carl played, remaining behind to help in any way he could, while the rest of the world turned a blind eye.

During our trip, we had the good fortune to have Johnson with us. Each day Johnson helped us step back in time to 1994, when as a 9-year old, he witnessed what no child should: the brutal murder of his mother and baby sister, slain by soldiers bearing machetes, as Johnson hid behind nearby bushes.

Thanks to the Gisimba Orphanage and a courageous act by Carl, Johnson survived the genocide, went on to complete his secondary schooling, as well as college, with a year spent at Texas Christian University. He now works for the Rwandan government, has married, and recently became a father.

Resilience

Like Irving Roth, Johnson and Carl do not define their lives based on the past (the unthinkable, the unspeakable), but rather on their ability to look to the future and to look for the good – and create it.

Drawing from their stories, I define resilience as: an ability to recover, over time, from misfortune, including the unthinkable/the unspeakable, by remembering and learning from the past while looking to and working towards the future.

#NeverAgain #NeverForget #Look4theGood #resilience

“Moving on is to forget; moving forward is to learn from.” Pastor Seraya, Rwanda 2016

 

April 10, 2020
by blogwalker
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“Looking for the Good” in a Time of COVID-19

“What you do next is what defines you.” Rwandan saying

I frequently return to a blog post I wrote four years ago: Rwanda – Looking for the Good. Joining Carl Wilkens for the 2016 trip to the “land of 1000 hills” was truly life-changing. I thank Seth Altman for encapsulating the experience in a single sentence, “I may be leaving Rwanda, but Rwanda will never leave me.”

Each day, as we visited sites where evil things happened during the 1994 genocide and talked with survivors, we stood back in awe of the many ways Rwandans were moving forward, willing to forgive – or confess to – unspeakable acts (often inflicted by or on their own neighbors). We also found inspiration in the stories of those few who crossed the line from bystander to upstander.

“Our family’s story could have ended that Thursday night, April 7, along with the stories of so many Rwandan families who lost their lives, but we are alive today because mothers, aunts, and grandmas stood up for us. And to think they were armed only with stories.” Carl Wilkens

On Tuesday, April 7, our Rwandan group, AKA Peter’s Passengers  (Peter drove our van across valleys and over the hills of Rwanda), and others who had traveled with or worked with Carl, joined him for a Zoom call. April 7 is Rwanda’s Day of Remembrance, the day the genocide of Hutu against Tutsi was ignited.

We began the conference with a moment of silence in commemoration.

 

Each day of our Rwandan journey we stood in silence at sites and monuments where so many lives had been taken or forever changed. And each one of those heart wrenching stops was followed by an opportunity to “look for the good” – from a visit to the Sweet Dreams ice cream shop (first female owned and operated business) following our morning at the Murambi Memorial…

…to standing off on the side of the road and cheering on the Rwandan men’s bicycling team following our morning at the Mahama Refugee Camp.

Every day, every stop, every minute, “looking for the good” was integral to our travels with Carl.

And so with our Tuesday Zoom call, our moment of silence was then followed by so many events to celebrate since our trip: marriages, parenthood (even grand parenthood), and births – including the joyful news and photos of Johnson, who survived the genocide as a young orphan, and this week celebrates the arrival of his son, Rumuri (“Light”):

To our Rwandan Family, Teresa and I send our love and Prayers as we remember the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.. The loss of so many innocent lives has overwhelmed us at times. I want you to know that your lives, your stories have gotten me back up on my feet again and again. I have learned so much from your courage, your patience, determination, and your creativity! Your Home Grown SolutionsYou have shown me again and again what it means to not give up. And beyond not giving up you have shown what it means to love. I will never forget the day when some of you said, “It is our pain that drives us to deeper love”. And I had to think about that. I had not thought about love in that way before. Love as a life raft, as a rescue boat. Practicing love, a radical love, as a way for saving ourselves from drowning. Thank you for that!Very dear friends of ours just had a beautiful baby boy in Kigali yesterday. – Such joy really stands out in this month of April , these 100 days. While his dad and I were excitedly sending messages back-and-forth on WhatsApp, I have to admit that I was also thinking that so many family members were not there to welcome this little guy – But their legacy of love and integrity is welcoming him through his mom and dad.His dad said today, “Since the arrival of Rumuri (light), everything has changed!”The legacy of Love and integrity will never be snuffed out. And that is why we remember, we remember the love and courage and the wonderful legacy of those who were needlessly killed.And in the remember must unite, unite during this pandemic and unite during this time of remembering.And the renewal comes, the renewal comes. Different time tables for different people.We must come out the other side of this pandemic renewed just like you our family in Rwanda has shown us that out of the worst experiences in life we can find renewal. Thank you for your example.Courage and blessing to each member of our Rwandan family, We love you and are holding you very very tight in our hearts!

Posted by Carl Wilkens on Tuesday, April 7, 2020

 

And throughout the conference, just like during the trip, our group shared words to live by whenever or wherever we find ourselves in trying or unprecedented times:

“Rwanda is a pathway to teach students about hope.” Leigh-Anne DeDario Hendricks

“Don’t send your anger into the next generation.” Rwandan survivor at the Kigali Memorial – Shared by Megan Helberg

“Remember not only the families lost, but also their legacies.” Carl Wilkens

“One evening, when we were already resting on the floor of our hut, dead tired, soup bowls in hand, a fellow prisoner rushed in and asked us to run out to the assembly grounds and see the wonderful sunset. Standing outside we saw sinister clouds glowing in the west and the whole sky alive with clouds of ever-changing shapes and colors, from steel blue to blood red. The desolate grey mud huts provided a sharp contrast, while the puddles on the muddy ground reflected the glowing sky. Then, after minutes of moving silence, one prisoner said to another, “How beautiful the world could be…” Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning – Shared by co-facilitator of the Zoom conference, Robbie Ross

“Look for the good – or create it.” Carl Wilkens

What had been scheduled for a 60-minute call extended to over 90 beautiful minutes. Carl brought the call to a close with an invitation to virtually join the group conversations every week till the corona virus has been conquered.

One of the Zoom participants reminded us that “Rwanda survived the genocide; it will survive the pandemic.”

And so will we.

Stay well. Stay safe. “Look for the good – and create it.”

March 22, 2020
by blogwalker
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#RemoteLearning – Resources and Reminders

As of this week, the need to “shelter in place” is now being widely practiced across districts, states, and the nation. I greatly appreciate my district superintendent, Governor Newsom, and all the organizations that took the threat of the Corona Virus seriously from the start.

Last week, colleagues within and beyond my district were seeking resources for kids to use at home for independent learning. I’ve started building the Resources for At-Home Learning /#RemoteLearning Google Doc for that purpose, keeping student data privacy in mind.

Part of my district job (technology integration specialist) is to promote best practices in digital citizenship. I have the privilege of collaborating on this responsibility with my talented colleague Kathleen Watt, who keeps our Digital Citizenship website updated, designing new graphics as needed.

As more and more organizations and companies offer students free access during this time of school closures, this post is, in part, a reminder about protecting student privacy.

We include more tips and resources on our EGUSD Student Data Privacy site, with links to Common Sense Education tips and tools and this short video (2 min 30 sec) from iKeep Safe:

Enough on privacy.

This post is also a HUGE shoutout to Common Sense Education, iKeepSafe, PBS/KVIE, and all the regional and national organizations listed on the Google Doc that have shared amazing free resources for students and their families.

If you live in the Sacramento (Calif.) region, I hope you know about the Sacramento Cable Consortium (SECC) Call to Action: Share Your Story.

If you live in California, you might enjoy taking a virtual field trip to a state park, via the California PORTS Program. Through their FaceBook page, the PORTS teams will be hosting special events three days a week (Tuesday-Thursday) you can access from home. Here’s the schedule:

  • 9 am: K-2nd grades
  • 10 am: 3-5th grades
  • 11 am: 6-8th grades
  • 12 pm: 9-12 grades

If you live anywhere – inside or outside  of the United States – I encourage you to read – and then share with your children and/or students – Kelly Gallagher’s Building Better Readers and Writers: CoronaVirus Unit, “an extended lesson plan designed to encourage students to capture this moment in history.”

I know many of our students are enjoying some at-home time for pleasure reading. On my morning hike, I walked for a while with a mother and her children – social distancing by keeping on the other side of the trail.  One of the daughters, probably 13ish, shared that she had just finished reading a wonderful book: The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Kidd Monk. I loved that book too and I agreed with her that the book was better than the movie.

I recommended Jerry Craft’s New Kid.  Wish I had mentioned all the authors who are doing online read alouds, such as those listed on Kate Messner’s site and the We Are Teachers site. I hope our paths will cross again so we can continue our book talks.

When it’s finally safe to return to work, I’m pretty sure, I’ll still be checking in on Wellington the penguin and rereading Lockdown, a poem written by Brother Richard Hendrick (and read by CNN’s Anderson Cooper). Hope all of you are keeping safe, enjoying family time, and never taking a beautiful sunrise or sunset for granted.

CUE2020 logo

March 8, 2020
by blogwalker
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On Hold in California – Awaiting Corona Virus Updates

Like so many California residents, it feels like my life is a bit on hold as I watch news updates on the spread of the Corona Virus.

Until last week, much of my March calendar involved travel, starting with a flight to Monterey for the 2020 CENIC Conference, then on to Palm Springs for the CUE Conference, and ending the month with a weekend flights to visit my daughter in Seattle and my son in Dallas.

On Thursday, CENIC sent out an email to all who had registered for the conference: Conference Cancelled Due to Covid-19 Corona Virus.

CENIC Conference cancellation notice

My initial reaction was disappointment, as my colleague Cathe Petuya and I had been looking forward to attending and to also presenting our session on Bringing the State Parks into the ClassroomBut in reading through the email, we agreed with CENIC’s justification:

 “The price of over-reacting is disappointment; that of under-reacting, potentially catastrophic — to individuals in our community (and their families), to our staff, and to the organization.”

We were also relieved to receive United Airlines’ notification that due to Corona Virus concerns, they would not be charging the $200 cancellation fee.

Yesterday, my district superintendent made what was clearly a difficult decision: To close schools and cancel student-related activities effective March 7 to March 13, 2020:

My daughter just called and recommended cancelling my flight/visit to Seattle and rescheduling for April, when we have a better sense of the actual risks to those over 60.

Looks like the CUE Conference is still on. It’s hard to imagine March without a trip to Palm Springs. I love this conference and have been blogging about it since 2008 through last year’s CUE 2019 Conference. Twelve years later, I always know I can count on inspiring speakers, connecting with colleagues (new and old), and leaving with innovative ideas and thought-provoking conversations to be continued over the next school year.

…but maybe Cathe and I should cancel our flights to Palm Springs and instead make the long drive (about 500 miles each way) … just because  sometimes “over-reacting is a better choice than under-reacting.”

February 26, 2020
by blogwalker
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ISTE Digital Citizenship 2020 Award – Go for It!

If you know a teacher or administrator who consistently “models and promotes excellent digital citizenship and who mentors and leads others to be more active digital citizens,” please nominate them or encourage them to apply for the ISTE Digital Citizenship PLN 2020 Award

Two years ago, I was awarded this honor. The value of he award goes beyond the lovely engraved plaque and the national recognition given during the annual ISTE Conference (with free registration included). Having Kathleen Watt, who co-directs our district #DigCit program, help me through the application process, greatly added to the honor.  Each question (see below) sparked a review, reflection, and evaluation of our #DigCit commitment and journey. The fact that mine was the award-winning application was simply the icing on the cake.

Whether you are nominating yourself or a colleague, I strongly recommend having a thinking partner (like Kathleen). It’s easy to forget or underestimate the scope, sequence, and impact of your efforts to model,  share, and promote digital citizenship resources and activities.

Just do it! But act fast. Applications are due March 1. Here’s the link to the application

Application steps:

  1. Upload a current CV or Resume.
  2. Provide a brief biography of yourself and your work (500 words max).
  3. Describe a project completed in the last year that demonstrates exceptional work in the area of digital citizenship. (500 words max).
  4. Upload an artifact that demonstrates the planning and implementation of the project.
  5. Describe the ways your work has advanced teaching and learning in the area of digital citizenship? (500 words max)

Can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend than highlighting your dedication to promoting #DigCit at your schools – and then celebrating with colleagues at the ISTE Conference, June 28 – July 1 (this year in Anaheim, CA)!

February 24, 2020
by blogwalker
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California Speaks Out for Social Justice

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Whether it’s the bully on the playground or our current administration, when small groups of “committed citizens” come together to speak out against social injustices and human rights violations, they are likely to change history – starting with legislation.

In California, February has been a month of  inspiring, “committed citizens” speaking out for civil rights, starting with California Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi. In alignment with and in honor of California’s Day of Remembrance, Muratsuchi introduced HR 77, a bipartisan bill acknowledging and apologizing for California’s role in our nation’s treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII by its support of Executive Order 9066, which authorized the unlawful removal Japanese Americans from the west coast following the bombing of Pearl Harbor:

“Every year during the years I’ve been in the California Legislature, I’ve introduced a resolution to commemorate the Day of Remembrance, that I know many communities across the country observe to remember the lessons of Executive Order 9066.

But this year I wanted to do something different and have California lead by example. While our nation’s capital is hopelessly divided along party lines and President Trump is putting immigrant families and children in cages, the California Legislature, with HR 77 will be issuing an official, bipartisan measure for its own actions taken that led to the incarceration of over 120,000 loyal Americans of Japanese ancestry behind barbed wire.”

On February 22, HR 77 was unanimously passed.

Note: Muratsuchi called out a number of survivors from the internment camps who joined him for the above press conference. Please visit the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories website (which I co-direct) to learn more about the stories of Marielle Tsukamoto, Christine Umeda, Kiyo Sato, and Les Uchida.

Thanks to an invitation from immigration attorney and dear friend Kishwer Vikkas, yesterday I had the pleasure of joining Marielle at the Tsuru for Solidarity event at Sacramento’s Parkview Presbyterian Church.

The purpose of the event was fold and string paper cranes, with the goal of contributing 125,000 cranes to the Tsuru for Solidarity’s National Pilgrimage to Close the Camps, which will take place during June in Washington, DC.

“Tsuru for Solidarity is a nonviolent, direct action project of Japanese American social justice advocates working to end detention sites and support front-line immigrant and refugee communities that are being targeted by racist, inhumane immigration policies. Tsuru for Solidarity stands on the moral authority of Japanese Americans who suffered the atrocities and legacy of U.S. concentration camps during WWII.”

Parkview’s community room was packed with Sacramento residents ranging from survivors of the camps and/or children and grandchildren of survivors to community activists and educators, all with the shared commitment to #StopRepeatingHistory.

Photographer Paul Kitagaki captures the Tsuru energy and output.

For three wonderful hours, I tried my best to follow the directions so patiently modeled by those at my table for folding a square sheet of paper into a crane. I watched in awe as the piles of cranes continued to grow. I was definitely the event’s low achiever, but greatly appreciated all the encouragement from my table mates.

Thank you Steve Sasaki for your step-by-step instructions. “No two cranes are the same.”

But I’m not giving up. Today I’m going to purchase a few packs of origami paper and follow the steps provided in Tavin’s Origami Instructions.

I look forward to following updates on the June 2020 Tsuru for Solidarity Pilgrimage to Washington. Many at the Parkview event will be making the pilgrimage, stopping along the way at Heart Mountain and other camps, demonstrating that we are never too young or too old to make a difference.

#StopRepeatingHistory  #TsuruForSolidarity

Sharing the day with Marielle and the Tsuru for Solidarity team.

February 2, 2020
by blogwalker
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Adding a New Chapter to Time of Remembrance

I have blogged about and referenced the Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project many times in recent and past years. I first shared about the TOR project in 2007 (Time of Remembrance: Move Over Ken Burns!), blogging that I would soon be documenting the stories of Japanese-American citizens in the Florin-Elk Grove region (south of Sacramento, California) who, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, faced discrimination, exclusion, and forced removal from their communities. Thanks to my district’s partnership with the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC), their talented videographer Doug Niva joined me and my colleague Kathleen Watt on the journey, filming and editing professional quality interviews with over 30 former internees.

Five years ago Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly, a City Councilman at the time, shared a little known story from the Vietnam War with our superintendent. Steve had learned about our TOR World War II project and asked that we consider documenting the Secret War in Laos. As a refugee from the Secret War, he thought it important for the Elk Grove community to know about the  many ways Hmong and Mien (two growing populations in Elk Grove) had supported U.S. troops during our involvement in the Vietnam War.

Steve Ly was the first interviewee in our Vietnam War section of the TOR project.

Thanks to Steve’s recommendations and the continued commitment by the SECC to bring history alive, we now have 16 interviews from our Hmong and Mien community. Their interviews provide invaluable insights to understanding the challenges faced by refugees, such as language barriers, cultural differences, huge shifts in geography, and loss of homeland and heritage.

We also have interviews with American pilots (“Ravens”) who flew secret missions over Laos, which stand as a testimony to the contributions and sacrifices of their brave “backseaters”/”Robins”.

This week we will be transforming our former Student Gallery page to a broader topic: On Coming to America. The On Coming to America page will still feature student-led interviews, but also teacher and community-led interviews, all with the common thread/theme of the challenges, contributions, and resilience of our immigrant and refugee populations.

Our first spotlight story is an interview with author, poet, community activist, and Holocaust survivor Hannie Voyles.

In 2011, my Chico friend (and TOLI colleague) Pam Bodnar contacted me to share that she had invited Chico resident Hannie Voyles, a Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands, to share her survivor story with a group of students at Marsh Middle School. Minutes after Hannie’s visit, Pam called to recommend that Doug Niva and I come to Chico to interview Hannie. We did.

Note: To quickly access specific parts of Hannie’s interview, here is the link to the time codes and short descriptors. Thank you to Doug Niva and our partnership with the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC) for filming the interview.

Nine years later, I connect with Hannie on every opportunity I can find – including four bike & barge trips across the Netherlands (with a 5th trip coming up in August). With each visit and each trip, Hannie provides me with another window into her childhood in Amsterdam, where she attended the same Montessori school as Anne Frank before the Nazis invaded.

Last week I drafted a lesson to accompany Hannie’s interview. As always, I sought feedback from Kathleen. We soon had the lesson ready to share, along with a teacher’s guide. Accordingly, the On Coming to America page (formerly the Student Gallery page) of the TOR website now includes a link to Hannie’s interview, along with time codes and descriptors (so students/teachers can quickly move the YouTube bar to specific parts of the interview).

We anticipate more Holocaust interviews to come, starting with “second gen” authors: journalist Judy Fertig Panneton and former teacher Joan Arnay Halperin.

If you know Holocaust survivors or “second gen children” in the greater Sacramento region who would be willing to share their stories, please leave a comment. I strongly believe in the power of story to change hearts and minds – and the need to document first-hand and second-hand accounts before they are forgotten and lost.

“We must keep this history at the forefront of our collective memory, to prevent other individuals or groups from suffering as we did. We are always vulnerable to societal weaknesses;we are not too wise to repeat ourselves.”     Hannie J. Voyles, Storming the Tulips

As always, we invite students to document On Coming to America stories from their families, school districts, and communities – and share them with us via the TOR website.

 

January 31, 2020
by blogwalker
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Behind Barbed Wire – An Evening with Paul Kitagaki Jr.

Thanks to an email from a colleague, on Tuesday night, I headed to the Sacramento Library to attend Behind Barbed Wire, a powerful presentation from the Sacramento Bee’s Pulitzer Prize winning photographer Paul Kitagaki.

Flyer advertizing January 27 Behind Barbed Wire presentation by Paul Kitagaki Jr

Political cartoonist Jack Ohman, also a SacBee Pulitzer Prize winner, joined Paul on the stage and guided the discussion and presentation.

Paul Kitagaki and Jack Ohman on stage

Like so many children whose parents have experienced exclusion and forced removal, Paul grew up knowing nothing of the internment camps. In the 1970’s, during a high school history class, he first learned about Executive Order 9066, which authorized the removal of nearly 120,000 citizens of Japanese heritage from the West Coast. He went home with many questions for his parents, but they did not wish to discuss their interment experiences.

By the 1980’s, as a young photojournalist in San Francisco, Paul learned that Dorothea Lange had photographed his family in 1942, while they awaited a relocation bus in Oakland, California. He traveled to the National Archives, where he found Lange’s photographs of his family. In the photo below, Paul’s father is up front on the right side, with his aunt seated between his grandparents. The woman standing in front of the family was a neighbor, who had come to say good-bye and wish them well.

Photo by Dorothea Lange of Paul Kitagaki Jr.’s family waiting to depart from the W.C.C.A. (Wartime Civil Control Authority) Control Station, in Oakland in 1942 for the Tanforan Assembly Center.

By 2015, Paul made a commitment to search for the children whose images were captured in the iconic photos of Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and others, who traveled to the camps and photographed the internees. By now, these children would be in their eighties and nineties.

Yukiko Hayakaw Llewellyn (left) at age 66 and as a young child waiting to be relocated to a camp.

If you listen to the video clip below, you will see – and hear – samples from Paul’s growing WWII collection. Using black-and-white film and a large-format camera similar to the equipment of photographers in the 1940s, he has mirrored WWII photos to his contemporary photos, adding the voice of former internees sharing a childhood memory captured in the original photo.

Paul and Jack Ohman ended the presentation by inviting the audience to ask questions. The Q&A session was as riveting as the presentation. For every question asked, at least one or two people stood and shared their first-hand or second-hand stories from “behind the barbed wire.”

I started this posted by stating that it was through an email from a colleague (Laurie Doane) that I learned about the Paul Kitagaki event. Laurie’s father was interned at Heart Mountain. During the Q&A session, Paul mentioned Disney animator Willie Ito, who was also interned at Heart Mountain, where Ito and Laurie’s father became friends. One of my favorite takeaways from the evening was learning about a children’s book, Hello Maggie, written by Shig Yabu – and illustrated by Willie Ito.

I’ve blogged before that I co-direct/curate my district’s Time of Remembrance Oral Histories Project, a collection of interviews from World War II and the Vietnam War. We will be updating the site soon with a post on Paul Kitagaki’s presentation and resources.

If the line had not been so long, I would have left the event with an autographed copy of Behind Barbed Wire: Searching for Japanese Americans Incarcerated During World War II. Next best thing…a trip to Barnes & Noble Folsom, which already has a copy in stock and has ordered a copy of Hello Maggie.

Thank you to the Sacramento Bee for hosting an unforgettable evening and event, a powerful reminder of how the stories from the past connect to the present.

Wakelet Ambassador

November 3, 2019
by blogwalker
0 comments

Riding the Wakelet Wave

Wakelet logo

When Edublogger Kathleen Morris blogs about and recommends a new tech tool, then I know it’s worth exploring. Last week, her post about Wakelet came through my Twitter feed. Thank you, Kathleen! I am definitely riding the #WakeletWave.

Wakelet will help you to “Unlock the power of curation.”

“Wakelet is the easiest way to capture, organize and share multi-media resources with students, teachers, and learning communities.”

Curation is a must-have skill for our students. It’s often referred to as the 5th C, added onto Critical thinking, Connecting, Creating, Collaborating. Wakelet makes curation easy to organize, visually appealing, and fun to practice. Your “Wakes” can include URLs, images, PDFs, videos, social media posts, Google Docs and Slides, Google Maps, GIFs, Tweets, Flipgrid responses, Screencastify recordings and more!

For my technology workshops, I usually organize my resources on a Google Site. If I can find helpful videos, I’ll embed them rather than post the link, just to make the page a little more interesting. With this Google Site on VideoConferencing & Google Classroom, for instance, without the embedded videos, it would just be a list of links, with descriptions that I added for each link.

But with, Wakelet, each website listed actually appears visually on the Wake, creating a way more accessible and interesting resource. And you can embed your “Wakes” on a blog, or website, or Google Site, etc. You can add collaborators to your Wakes. You decide if you want to keep your Wakes private, or unlisted (available to anyone with the link), or available to the public.

 

Concerned about accessibility issues? Wakelet gets it!

Although I’m new to Wakelet, I’m already committing to offering workshops at two different teacher conferences in January. If you are offering Wakelet trainings and have resources and tips to share, please leave a comment.

Today my Wakelet account – https://wakelet.com/@GailDesler – includes two “collections.” I bet my collections will have quadrupled by January. I might even be a Wakelet Ambassador 🙂

Thank you again, Kathleen Morris, for leading the Wakelet charge.

Graphic on 6 ways to use Wakelet in the Classroom

 

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