Table of Contents

    Cover Story
  • Free The Problems with the Common Core

    Authored By Stan Karp

    The rollout of the Common Core has seemed more like a marketing campaign than an educational plan. A look at the funders, origins, and uses of the new standards shows why the pushback is building.

  • Free La problemática de los Estándares Comunes Estatales

    Por Stan Karp | Traducido por Nicholas Yurchenco, Andreina Velasco

    La introducción de los Estándares Comunes se ha parecido más a una campaña publicitaria que a un plan educativo. Un análisis de los fondos, orígenes y usos de los nuevos estándares demuestra por qué la resistencia en contra de ellos está creciendo.

  • Free Martin Luther King Jr. and the Common Core

    A critical reading of close reading

    Authored By Daniel E. Ferguson

    The chief architect of the Common Core created a model lesson of a close reading of King's “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” A teacher from Birmingham compares that to King's own critical reading of the “word” and the “world.”

  • Features
  • Free Trayvon Martin and My Students

    Writing toward justice

    Authored By Linda Christensen

    President Obama's speech about the Zimmerman acquittal in Trayvon Martin's murder—and Cornel West's response—are rich sources for students learning how to analyze, evaluate, and critique.

  • Free Sex Talk on the Carpet

    Incorporating gender and sexuality into 5th-grade curriculum

    Authored By Valdine Ciwko

    Instead of leaving “the puberty talk” to the nurse, an elementary teacher incorporates age-appropriate discussion into her regular classroom routine.

  • Free Hablar de sexo en el salón de clases

    Incorporar el género y la sexualidad en el currículo de 5to Grado

    Por Valdine Ciwko | Traducido por César Peña-Sandoval

    En lugar de dejarle “la charla” sobre la pubertad a la enfermera de la escuela, una maestra de primaria incorpora a las rutinas de la clase discusiones adecuadas para la edad de sus alumnos.

  • Looking for Justice at Turkey Creek

    Out of the classroom and into the past

    Authored By Hardy Thames

    High school students embed themselves in a community's history and people when they study the impact of “development” on historically African American Turkey Creek in Gulfport, Mississippi.

  • Greed as a Weapon

    Teaching the other war in Iraq

    Authored By Adam Sanchez

    A high school teacher uses a role-play to explore the economic dimensions of the war in Iraq.

  • Departments Free
    Editorial
  • Connecting the Dots

    Authored By The Editors of Rethinking Schools
  • Good Stuff
  • Awareness of the Natural World

    Authored By Herbert Kohl
  • Resources
  • Our picks for books, videos, websites, and other social justice education resources.

Awareness of the Natural World

Awareness of the Natural World
Unlikely Friendships for Kids: The Dog & the Piglet

Unlikely Friendships for Kids: The Dog & the Piglet, and 4 Other Stories of Animal Friendships
By Jennifer S. Holland
(Workman Publishing, 2012 and 2013)

Dog Songs

Dog Songs
By Mary Oliver
(Penguin Press, 2013)

Publishers carefully manicure the list of books they publish, and slot them into categories by age as well as genre: young adult, beginning reader, adult romance, and so on. However, there are a number of books that cross these boundaries—books written for adult readers that are equally compelling to children, and books intended for children that are appealing to adults.

Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning poet Mary Oliver's latest book of poetry, Dog Songs, crosses these boundaries, although the spiritual undertones are often complex and imply adult sensibilities. The poems are about or addressed to Mary Oliver's dogs, who sometimes reply. They are affectionate meditations on the bond between people and dogs. For example, “Conversations” begins like this:

Said Bear, “I know I'm supposed to keep my eye on you, but it's difficult the way you lag behind and keep talking to people.”

Well, how can you be keeping your eye on me when you're half a mile ahead?

“True,” said Bear. “But I'm thinking of you all the time.”

Oliver's poems are written in direct, ordinary language perfect for reading aloud in school and, as I do, to the mirror. Dog Songs is full of themes that would work for writing projects and improvisations. I can imagine young children performing scenes between pets and their human companions.

On the other hand, Jennifer Holland's three volumes of Unlikely Friendships are examples of books published for children (grade 2 and on) that adults can read with thought-provoking pleasure. They are adapted from Holland's “adult book,” Unlikely Friends. Each volume has five short stories about a friendship between animals that usually do not mix. Each story is accompanied by a wonderful photo of the actual pair. Here are some of the pairings: a dog and a piglet, a hippopotamus and a goat, an iguana and a cat, an elephant and dog, a baby rhesus monkey and a dove. The stories are rich sources for discussion and writing. Tales of crossing seemingly impossible boundaries can be worked into the curriculum, spurring imaginings of congenial living and unlikely humane solutions to difficult problems.