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Upstanders

  • Title:Upstanders: How to Engage Middle School Hearts and Minds with Inquiry
  • Author:Harvey "Smokey" Daniels, Sara Ahmed
  • Publication Date:November 2014
  • Grade Level:5-9
  • ISBN:9780325053592
  • Publisher:Heinemann

How can we meet today’s elevated academic goals and engage middle school kids—but not simply replicate our competitive, winner-take-all society? How can our students achieve an even higher standard—demonstrating the capacity and the commitment to bend the world toward justice?

In a word, inquiry.

Welcome to the classroom of Sara Ahmed. With Smokey Daniels as your guide you’ll see exactly how Sara uses inquiry to turn required curricular topics into questions so fascinating that young adolescents can’t resist investigating them. Units so engaging that they provide all the complexity the standards could ever expect, while helping students grow from bystanders to Upstanders.

Smokey and Sara describe precisely how to create, manage, and sustain a classroom built around choice, small-group collaboration, and critical thinking. You’ll be inspired by what Sara’s students accomplish, but you’ll also come away from Upstanders with a can-do plan for teaching your own classes thanks to:

  • a developmental look at what makes middle school kids special, challenging, and fun
  • specific lessons that develop collaboration, self-awareness, and compassion
  • a toolbox filled with teaching strategies, structures, tools, and handouts
  • “Point-Outs” from Smokey that highlight key teaching moves
  • “Game-Time Decisions” from Sara that reveal in-the-moment instructional choices
  • narratives that document the incredible work that inquiry allows kids to do
  • ambitious, engaging, and important units on commonly taught middle school themes.

What kind of classroom do we want for our middle-schoolers? How about one that develops the skills the standards demand and prepares kids to take action in the world right now? We can do it—if we help kids become Upstanders.

Harvey “Smokey” Daniels has been a city and suburban classroom teacher and a college professor, and now works as a national consultant and author on literacy education. In language arts, Smokey is known for his pioneering work on student book clubs. Harvey works with elementary and secondary teachers throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe, offering demonstration lessons, workshops, and consulting, with a special focus on creating, sustaining, and renewing student-centered inquiries and discussions of all kinds. Smokey shows colleagues how to simultaneously build students' reading strategies, balance their reading diets, and strengthen the social skills they need to become genuine lifelong readers.

Sara Ahmed has taught in urban, suburban, public, independent, and international schools. She is currently teaching middle school literacy and social studies using the inquiry model at The Bishop's School in La Jolla, California. She is a member of the Chicago and Southern California teacher leadership teams for Facing History and Ourselves, an international organization devoted to developing critical thinking and empathy for others. Sara's classroom is designed to help her young adolescent students to consider their own identities and to take action in the world in socially responsible ways.

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Author Bio

Sara Ahmed has taught in urban, suburban, public, independent, and international schools. She is currently teaching middle school literacy and social studies using the inquiry model at The Bishop's School in La Jolla, California. She is a member of the Chicago and Southern California teacher leadership teams for Facing History and Ourselves, an international organization devoted to developing critical thinking and empathy for others. Sara's classroom is designed to help her young adolescent students to consider their own identities and to take action in the world in socially responsible ways.

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