Thursday, December 19, 2013

Nelson Mandela

Like most of the world, I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of Nelson Mandela. Since the Metroplex was covered in ice on Friday, December 6th, we got the rare gift of a day off from school. As I sipped my coffee and watched Good Morning America, I saw this clip that got my brain fired up, even on an Ice Day.

According to this video, the world held "a candle light vigil" for Mandela via social media (5.4 million tweets?!) upon news of his death. It made me wonder if our students know the legacy that Mandela leaves behind? And of course, it made me think about this picture book and want to share it with students:

Nelson Mandela, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson, is a beautiful biography about the life of this great leader. I had the privilege of sharing this book with 9 different classes at MHS over the last week--8 World Geography (Freshman level) and 1 Sophomore STAAR Writing (for repeat STAAR testers). Here is how the lesson went:

1. I asked students to write down 3 facts that they knew about Nelson Mandela. My suspicions were verified--they didn't know much.
2. I showed them the clip from GMA and asked them this question: "If the world responds with 5.4 million tweets about a man's death, don't you think you should know his legacy?"
3. I read the book to the class and they were ENGAGED. It's a beautiful thing to see a picture book capture the attention of high school students. And it CAN happen.
4. After I finished the book, I asked them: What is Nelson Mandela's legacy? What can you learn from his life? They wrote.
5. Students shared their writing. It was wonderful and made my English teacher heart sing.
6. I then shared 2 of my favorite quotes from Mandela, and we discussed them:

7. I then told the students that I received news of Mandela's death via my ESPN Sports Center app (duh-duh-duh). I asked them why ESPN would notify me of his death? Some students knew about the strong sports connection with Mandela. I showed them the trailer for Invictus because it powerfully portrays how Mandela used the World Cup to unify South Africa.

That's when most of the students said that they wanted to watch Invictus over Christmas break. 

Mission. Accomplished. 

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