Gender Stereotypes in the Classroom

Author: Kimberly Sweeney

School/Organization:

Add B. Anderson Elementary School

Year: 2021

Seminar: Democracy and Expertise in Science, History and Literature

Grade Level: 2

Keywords: biographies, female characters, gender biases, gender stereotypes, inclusivity, non-binary, positive gender role models, transgender

School Subject(s): Literature, Social Studies

This unit on gender stereotypes in the classroom was designed for elementary students to promote gender equity.  This unit will look at the impact gender biases and stereotypes have on a student’s potential.  Young children are exposed to gender stereotypes long before they reach school age so it is important that we confront the biases and stereotypes and help them value the importance of gender equality.  This usit was designed to include gender equity in the curriculum through various pieces of literature.

Download Unit: Sweeney-Kimberly.pdf

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Full Unit Text
Content Objectives

Problem Statement

Although there has been great progress made towards gender equality,  there are still gender stereotypes that exist and they have negative long-term consequences.  Research shows that gender stereotypes can decrease self confidence and even limit a person’s career choices and opportunities for career advancement.  Gender role expectations vary widely from country to country, but the primary focus of this paper will be gender stereotypes in education in the United States.  This research will include the complex issue of transgender students, including those that identify as non-binary.

Students’ gender role beliefs begin forming before school starts and they are heavily influenced by parents and other family members. Once a child becomes school age, they are influenced by the teacher’s gender role beliefs and even other students’ beliefs. It is important that teachers are aware of how their words and actions can influence a student’s idea of gender role expectations.

Teachers have a responsibility to promote equity in the classroom, regardless of their own personal beliefs.  There are several ways to do this.  Some ways include using gender neutral language and implementing a more diverse curriculum, but one of the most important things a teacher can do is to be aware of their own beliefs and support all their students.

Gender neutral language is essential because using certain words can reinforce stereotypes.  For example, asking for a “strong boy” to carry something can reinforce the idea that girls are weaker than boys. School districts also need to address the issue of gender stereotypes that exist in the current curriculum.  A close examination of most curriculums will find that male characters are portrayed in fiction books as more adventurous than female characters.  In non-fiction materials, males are presented more often since they have dominated in areas like science and history.

Some schools, although a small amount, have decided to implement single sex classes as a way to address gender issues in the classroom. There is a great amount of research on how girls and boys learn differently and how single sex classes affect the academics and social needs of students.  Some people believe that single sex classes improve academics and others believe it is illegal and violates federal and state laws.

Objectives

This curriculum unit was designed for all students and focuses on the importance of gender equity and equality in the classroom.  It was intended for students in third through fifth grades but can be modified to meet the needs of other grades.  The purpose is to minimize gender stereotypes in teaching practices and curriculum in order to  provide a quality gender neutral education that promotes equality and equity in the classroom.  Equality refers to giving everyone the same resources or opportunities, while equity recognizes each person is an individual and may need different resources to reach the same goal.

This interdisciplinary unit will focus on various activities and will include historical fiction, as well as fictional characters. The culminating activity will include a biography project of a strong female from history of students’ choice.

Rationale

As a teacher in a large urban school district, it is my responsibility to address gender stereotypes and consciously work to minimize them in the curriculum and in my teaching practices.  Since gender stereotypes negatively impact girls and shape their future beliefs about gender roles, it’s important to address them early in elementary school.  It is easier to teach students when they are young then try to “unteach” them once they are older.

I believe the purpose of teaching is to prepare students to become critical thinkers and productive citizens, but I wonder if we are providing all students with the resources and opportunities to reach their goals.  With such a large emphasis on high stakes testing, are we spending enough time on promoting equality and equity in the classroom?  Some districts have specific curriculum maps that do not allow for much social or emotional learning.  Many districts are using morning meeting time to address this social and emotional learning necessary to reach the whole student.

As a member of my district’s English Language Arts Curriculum Writing team, I am currently working on examining our curriculum and looking for alternative anchor texts that align to the standards but are more diverse and more relevant to our students.  I plan to research literature that shows females as strong and independent main characters in books. I also will research LGBTQ books that will help all students see their lives represented in literature.

There has been a great deal of research on single sex classrooms and many people think they increase particpation and productivity, yet there are relatively few single sex classrooms. (Gurian, 2009)   I personally taught for only one year in a single sex classroom, but I plan to examine the pros and cons of this learning environment to see what impact it may have on student learning.

Narrative

There are so many students suffering in our schools and most are suffering in silence.  We have some children living in poverty,  some that are homeless, some suffering from various forms of abuse, some with mental illnesses or living with someone with mental illness, and some that don’t feel they belong because of their gender identity or because of gender stereotypes.  As a teacher, it is important that we are aware of all these and other issues facing our students in order to best support them emotionally and academically in the classroom.

Gender Biases

Teachers have such an important role in the lives of their students. They have to wear many hats and be aware of what their students are facing or what they could be facing since it is not always obvious.  When it comes to gender, teachers need to be aware of their own gender stereotypes and biases.  Teachers also need to look at the curriculum provided to see if it represents our students and in a positive way.  The most important thing a teacher does is to implement strategies into their daily routine that reduces gender stereotypes and improves the self esteem of all students. This is crucial to make students feel accepted and ready to learn.  A famous TED Talk quote by Rita Pierson sums it up, “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.”

Teachers’ gender biases are sometimes hard to recognize. Research finds that a teacher’s bias can limit a student’s potential and deter them from even showing interest in a topic. (Carlana, 2019)  Data shows that male students tend to outperform females in Math.  (Makarova, 2019)  Researchers have tried to determine if there is a biological reason for this difference or if gender biases from the teachers impact this outcome.  International studies support the notion that the gap between scores is caused by teacher biases.  Research shows that these math stereotypes seem to affect females negatively, while reading stereotypes have no impact on male students.  The math stereotype / bias is important to address because math is linked to careers in the Science field, which is a male dominated industry.  In order to increase representation in the Science field, it is important to  encourage more females to perform well in Math and Science.

It appears that males are less represented in education and health fields and women are less represented in the STEM fields. Science is not only seen as a male dominated field, but it has macsuline traits. Studies find that both males and females rate STEM careers as more masculine or suitable for males, although males felt stronger about this. (Makarova 2019)

Not only do gender biases limit a students’ potential, studies show that it can impact the quality of medical care they receive.  (Williams, 2018)  According to the Journal of General Internal Medicine, race, gender and socioeconomic status are major influences on health care.  The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) requires schools to include cultural competency training in their curriculum to reduce biases against patients.  Some factors that helped to reduce biases in the medical field included a diverse medical student population,  professionalism training, and responses to instances of biases.

Curriculum

Young children are easily influenced so it’s important to be aware of what gender stereotypes you are introducing through the current curriculum or through your own read-alouds.  Since children are usually exposed to literature prior to entering school, it’s essential that parents and caregivers have access to a variety of literature from both male and female authors and illustrators.

Some research shows that even today male main characters outnumber female main characters two to one.  What are students supposed to think when most of the books or stories read in class have boys in traditional male roles?  Teachers sometimes don’t have the authority to select their curriculum, but it’s important to be aware of the curriculum issues and to supplement the curriculum with high quality diverse literature whenever possible.

Including books that include female characters does not solve a problem because many times when females are main characters they play stereotypical roles and are seen as supporting characters, characters that stay home and wear aprons and clean the house.  Females play a passive role while males are portrayed as active. Interesting to note, research found that both males and females preferred gender stereotyped books, but they remembered the same sex non traditional story story for longer periods of time.

A study in the 80’s and 90’s by Turner-Bowker (1996) focused on the adjectives in text used to describe characters.  Females were often described using words like beautiful, while males were described using words like big.  Although the words used to describe females were positive, it was also in line with stereotypical ideas of females.  They still played less active characters in comparison to males.

Finding materials that students can connect with is essential in building their self esteem.  If they are not represented in books, they believe they are not important.  There has to be a balance between finding text that students connect with and finding text that exposes them to different ideas and cultures to make them more aware of the world around them.  This is not only important for gender, but also for minority groups.

When talking about gender in literature, most early research focused on male and female roles.  More recently research had included transgender and nonbinary students.  This research is essential due to the challenges that these students face.  Students who identify as trans or nonbinary rarely see themselves represented in literature and they face more bullying and depression and mental health issues than other students.   Now there are so many resources to help you find text that include trans and nonbinary characters. Some resources include: Epic Reads, GoodReads, Children’s Book Council, and Teaching Tolerance.

Ideas to promote gender equality

Gender biases awareness.  Young children are influenced by literature but also by the world around them.  Research shows that by the age of five, many children already have formed an idea of gender roles and may verbalize that boys are strong and girls are weak or girls take care of the house. Since this unit is designed for teachers, it’s crucial that teachers are aware that gender ideas are usually formed by Kindergarten, but they need to address gender stereotypes that may come up and have discussions with students about them. Books begin to have an important role and need to be selected carefully.

Diverse Literature.  Students need access to high quality diverse literature, especially when the current curriculum does not include diversity.  One of the  problems with this is that each year, more schools eliminate librarian positions and students don’t have access to books unless their teacher has a class library.  According to PennLive, one of the worst national examples of the librarian crisis in the School District of Philadelphia.  They have only four librarians for over 200 schools.  Some schools have partners with outside organizations or having done fundraisers to create a small scale library staffed with volunteers.  It is interesting to note that studies show that reading test scores declined in schools where librarians were eliminated.

School districts often require certain standards to be taught, but sometimes leave some curriculum decisions up to teachers.  When the curriculum is district provided, it should be reviewed by a curriculum team to ensure it represents all students and does not encourage gender stereotypes.  If the curriculum is only a resource and teachers have some decision making, they need to carefully select text that includes both male and female authors, as well as male and female main characters that are not in gender stereotypical roles.

Gender Neutral Language.  Our language can have a tremendous impact on the development of their gender ideas so using gender neutral language is essential and has become the standard in many school districts, as well as places of business.  Schools are beginning to use they and them as pronouns to replace he and she.  This is only the beginning.  Our biases are often obvious in our words.  For example, I have personally been asked by school administrators to send “2 strong boys to the office”.  When I first started teaching, I didn’t question it much, but in recent years, I have responded with, “do you mean 2 strong students?”  I then send down one male and one female student if possible.

Not only do I try to be aware of my language, I also try to be a role model through my actions.  Although I am not excited to put together furniture or class equipment, I make sure that when there is something that needs to be assembled, I work alongside my male and female students to show females can do mechanical things just as well as males.  As a female teacher and a single mother of two boys, I want the female students in my class to feel empowered to take care of themselves and not have to rely on another person.  I want my male students to see that females have the knowledge and ability to put together anything they set their minds to.

Professional development.  In recent years, school districts like mine, have introduced professional development on how to support trans and non-binary students.  Trans or transgender refers to someone whose identify and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.  Non-binary refers to a gender that is not specifically female or male.  There are several other terms used, but this is one of the most common.

Professional development in this area has become necessary because, according to the CDC in 2019, a third of transgender students reported bullying in the school setting and over a third had attempted suicide at least once.  Trans or non-binary students are more likely to experience bullying in school, experience cyber bullying, receive threats, and be afraid to go to school.  This training is especially important at the high school level, but as an elementary school teacher, I realize the need to set the tone of acceptance and support in the early years.

Implement Policies.  In 2016, the School District of Philadelphia passed policy 252 regarding transgender and gender non-conforming students.  The purpose of the new policy was to ensure safety, equity and justice for all students regardless of gender identity or gender expression. The policy gives all students the right to be addressed by the name and pronoun they identify with and to keep their gender identity private if they choose. The district has tried to implement gender neutral language by using they instead of he/she.  They also are trying to limit or end segregation in activities whenever possible.  Students also have the right to use the restroom and locker room that corresponds to their gender identity.  All teachers were trained on this policy after it was implemented. The school uniform policy was also modified to remove a “boy” and “girl” uniform and allows students to dress in the uniform that fits in their gender identity.

Conclusion

Some researchers have referred to the drastic change in gender equality, or inequality, a gender “revolution.”  It is important to keep gender equality in mind because women still do not make the same salary as men and there is still an obvious segregation of occupations.  There are still many occupations where males dominate the field.  Since the 1970’s to the current day, we have seen a great amount of improvement towards equality, although the progress has slowed down in more recent years.  Studies have shown that the percentage of women who have received bachelors and doctoral degrees has passed the percentage of men with the same degree.  There is still a great deal of segregation in certain fields of study, but the desegregation of occupations has continued to improve at a slower rate.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, some of the top male dominated fields include software development, farming, construction work, and firefighting.  Recent research shows women have made large gains in certain male dominated fields like lawyers, veterinarians, and commercial and industrial designers.

Although this paper focuses on gender equality, it is important to note that there are some non traditional female dominated fields.  If you walk into an elementary school you will see there are very few male teachers.  Also, RN’s or registered nurses is a female dominated field.  Men make up only 5% of registered nurses.  Students need to be aware of these fields and be able to see any of them as options

Teach for America has offered some suggestions to improve your class in order to support transgender or non binary students.  It is important for students to know you and your class are a safe space.  You can do show this by wearing a pronoun button, displaying or including LGBTQ+ literature in your lessons, displaying posters of gender diverse historical figures and discuss the contributions transgender individuals have made in the world.  As a special education teacher and the parent of a child on the autism spectrum, I truly believe this is one of the most important things you can do for a child’s self esteem.  When my son was first diagnosed with Aspergers, I made sure to research all the famous and successful people that also had it to show him this would not limit his future.  Teachers need to be compassionate to students so they all feel like they can be successful and happy in life.

“Windows and Mirrors” is a concept introduced in 1988 by Emily Style for the National Seed Project.  Windows refer to resources that help you view someone else’s life or experiences and mirror helps you reflect on your own culture and identity.  Books as mirrors help students see themselves in literature.  It helps them make connections with the text and make them feel valued in the classroom.  Books as windows are also important because some students are very limited in their experiences and are not exposed to the diversity that exists in the world.  Early exposure to diverse literature can help students be supportive and accept all their classmates.

Some school districts are using Morning Meeting time to address the social and emotional learning students need.  Due to the issues related to covid, this is even more important than ever.  Many students were home alone and have not had the social interactions they were accustomed to.  Although it doesn’t seem to affect testing, research suggests that students that feel emotionally and physically safe tend to perform better academically.  Morning meetings can be used for team building and to help teach students ways to cope with issues at school. Since relationship building is crucial in teaching, this is the perfect way to connect with students.

A few schools have implemented single-sex classes because they beleive that it will improve academic achievement.  There is much research both for and against this idea.  Some believe that gender segregation does not improve academic achievement but may improve the social well being of students.

Some researchers believe that due to differences in the way females and males learn, teachers can be trained to meet the natural learning needs of their students.  For example, boys learn in louder environments with cool colors, while girls learn better in more quiet environments with warm colors. Other researchers believe that the differences are so small that we should focus on the similarities since altering instruction to meet the minor differences will have little effect on the academic achievement of the students.

Teaching Strategies

There is a wide variety of teaching strategies available to educators.  Five of the most common strategies include differentiated instruction, cooperative learning, technology, inquiry based learning, and graphic organizers.  All can be used within this unit and the teacher can use her information of her students to plan which strategies would be most effective for their students.

Inquiry based learning is an important strategy because it involves the students in their own learning process. According to the article the Four Phases of Inquiry Based Instruction,  the first phrase involves interaction.  This can include how students interact with the material, their peers or to experts.  The second phase involves clarifying.  This happens by summarizing and analyzing data. The third phase is questioning.  During questioning, students can explore their wonderings and adjust their thinking. The fourth and final phase is designing.  This is the stage students can show their creativity to produce a product.

Due to the global pandemic, technology has been a necessary strategy to utilize in the classroom.  In the past, some teachers would use technology to enhance their lessons, but due to the uncertainty of future in-person learning, technology must be incorporated into all lessons.  At this point, most students have access to a laptop or tablet and have had some experience learning virtually.  Technology plays an important role in inquiry based learning.  It can increase student interest and motivation and provide students with quick access to information.  Unfortunately, there are some issues with implementing inquiry based learning.  Since it requires students to be motivated, it’s important for teachers to engage them to get them interested. It also requires some background knowledge to help them plan their research. Students need to be monitored to stay on target to complete their task.  It may be helpful to have smaller deliverables to check in with students and their progress.

Cooperative learning has been a well used strategy but due to the new learning environment, we are unable to have students work closely together in small groups, unless it is done virtually in break out rooms.  This may not be a feasible option for students in the lower elementary students who may need more guidance during small group work. Lessons will be written with opportunities for some small group work and online work to accommodate any learning environment. As COVID restrictions are lifted, lessons may be adjusted to include more hands-on cooperative learning activities.  There are so many cooperative learning strategies, but the idea is the same. Students work in small groups to complete a task or assignment.

Graphic organizers are a simple tool to help students organize their ideas.  They can be used to provide students with a framework for their work. In this unit, students use venn diagrams, story maps, t-charts and characterization charts.  Not only do graphic organizers help to organize work, it is also a way to pull out information in a simple visual format for them to see. This is a powerful and easy to use tool for visual learners.

Turn and talk will be utilized for in person learning.  Students will work with a partner to share ideas and discuss their reasoning before presenting their ideas to the whole group.  Turn and talk will be limited and when students are online, they can utilize break out rooms or use whole group discussions.

Carousel is a cooperative learning strategy that is similar to a Gallery Walk, but students work in small groups to move from station to station and discuss tasks as they go.  Its a great way to get students talking and working together and gives them the opportunity to get up and walk around the room instead of sitting for so long.  Being able to discuss possible answers can benefit students, especially if they are unsure of their own ideas and want to bounce their ideas off someone else before presenting it to a whole group.

Classroom Activities

Lesson 1: Amazing Grace

Materials: Book, Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, chart paper, markers

Timeline: 2-3 days

Standards:

RL.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

RL.3.2 Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key detail in the text.

Objectives:

SWBAT refer explicitly to the text IOT ask and answer comprehension questions about a literary text

SWBAT recount/retell stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures IOT determine the central message, lesson, or moral.

Lesson Plan:

Background: Amazing Grace was written by Mary Hoffman in 1991.  The main character is a young girl named Grace who loves stories and acting them out. She wants to play Peter Pan in the school play, but her classmates tell her she can’t because Peter is a boy and he’s white.  Grace is determined to play Peter and her family encourages her to do it. Grace ends up playing Peter and does a great job.

Vocabulary:  wicked, persuade, auditions, sparkling, imaginary

By the way words: pantomimes

  1. Prior to reading, ask students the following questions:
    1. Read the title of the book and look at the picture, what do you think the book will be about?
    2. Review vocabulary.
  2. Complete the first read with students on day one. (Video of read-aloud is provided in the resources below).
  3. Do a second reading, or close read on day two, stopping for comprehension and discussion questions.
  4. Discussion Questions:
    1. Why do classmates tell Grace she can’t be Peter?  How does Grace feel about this? How do you know?
    2. Grace’s grandmother encourages Grace and tells her she can be anything she wants to be.  Do you agree?  Why or why not?
    3. How did going to the ballet help Grace feel more confident in being able to play Peter?
    4. Describe Grace.  How are you and her similar and different?
  5. Discuss themes found in the story.  Possible themes are found below.  Brainstorm themes with students and put each theme on anchor chart paper and then write a question on each chart.  Students will complete work in a small group to answer the question on one chart then move to the next and answer that question until they go through all the questions.  Students will then walk to each station to view all answers.  If groups all use a different color marker, it is easy to see which groups answered each question.
    1. Importance of Family:  Grace’s Mom and Grandmother are supportive of her decisions and dreams. (How would the story be different if Grace’s family did not support her choice to play Peter Pan? )
    2. Determination: Grace is determined to play the part, regardless of what her classmates think.  (How would the story have been different is Grace was not determined and was unsure of herself?)
    3. Gender inequality: Grace wants to play Peter Pan, a role typically considered for a boy.  (Do you think girls should be able to do things that boys normally do?  Give an example of a time girls took on a role normally reserved for boys.  Were there any issues with them in this role?  For example, a girl becoming a sportscaster)
    4. Fairness:  Grace is told she can’t be Peter by her classmates because she is a girl and she is black.  (How would the story be different if the student wanting to play Peter was a white boy, but had a disability?)

Performance Task

What makes Grace so amazing?  Write a paragraph explaining what makes Grace amazing.  Be sure to include evidence from the text to support your answer.  Check your writing for punctuation and spelling.

Evaluation Tool

Category 4 Advanced 3 Proficient 2 Basic 1 Below Basic
Focus The paragraph is well written and stays on topic throughout. Most of the paragraph is on topic, but there the writing goes off topic once or twice. Some writing is not clear and often drifts away from the task causing confusion. The writing is not focused and is confusing.
Content The question is completely answered with plenty of evidence to support it. The question is completely answered but there is not much evidence to support it. The question is completely answered but there is no evidence to support it. The question is not answered or is off topic.
Organization Writing has a strong introduction, body and conclusion. Transitions are used as needed. Most of the writing is in order, but transitions are missing. Some of the writing is in order, but there is some confusion due to organization. Writing is out of order and no transitions are used..
Style Includes descriptive words and sentences are varied in length and structure. Most sentences address the prompt, but very few descriptive words are used. Very few descriptive words and little sentence variety. No descriptive words are used and many sentences are short, begin with the same word or are incomplete.
Conventions 0-1 errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation.  Writing is neat and legible. 2-3 errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation.  Writing is clear and legible. 4-5 errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation.  Some writing is difficult to read. More than 5 errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation.  Writing is not completely legible.

Resources

Read Aloud https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LmIfdJRsSGQ

Lesson 2: Malala’s Magic Pencil

Materials: Book, Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

Timeline: 3-5 days

Standards:

RL.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

RL3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

W.3.4 With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose.

Objectives:

SWBAT refer explicitly to the text IOT ask and answer comprehension questions about a literary text

SWBAT describe the characters in a story, including their traits, motivations, or feelings IOT explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

SWBAT to respond to questions from a teacher or peer IOT clarify their written communication.

Lesson Plan:

Background: Malala’s Magic Pencil is a picture book written by Malala Yousafzai, a young human rights activist from Pakistan and the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner.  In the book, she encourages students to speak up for what they believe in.

Vocabulary:  valley, proper, rubbish, poverty, forbidden, international

By the way words: curry, cupboard, jani

Vocabulary:  wicked, persuade, auditions, sparkling, imaginary

By the way words: pantomimes

  1.  Prior to reading, ask students the following questions:
    1. Read the title of the book and look at the picture, what do you think the book will be about
  1. Before reading, ask students the following questions:
    1. What do you think about school?
    1. Why is school important?
    2. How would you feel if you were told you could not ever return to school? (in person or virtually)
  1. Before Reading, ask students to read the title and work with a partner to turn and  talk to make a prediction about what the story might be about.  Also ask students to discuss how a pencil might be magic.
  2. Comprehension and Discussion Questions (and possible sentence stems for differentiation).
  3. Who is the narrator of this story?  How do you know?  (The narrator of the story is…)
  4. Describe Malala’s relationship with her family?  (Malala has a _______relationship.  I know this because________)
  5. What are some things Malala would do with a magic pencil?  What would you do if you had a magic pencil?  (Malala would use the pencil to_____.  If I had a magic pencil, I would_____).
  6. How did Malala take action?  (Malala _____).
  7. Characterization: Malala is a young human rights activist that takes action against injustice.  Complete the characterization chart to show how the characters’ actions help us understand them better.
Action What It Tells Me About Malala
Malala had dreams of using the pencil to make beautiful dresses for her mother, schools for her Father to help children, and a ball for her brothers. Malala is a kind person that thinks of others.
Malala told her Father about the girl she saw sorting through trash and the boys looking for metal.
Malala worked hard in school.
Malala wrote about being scared to walk to school.
Malala wished she could make the world a more peaceful place.

Performance Task

Pretend you are a reporter and you have the opportunity to interview Malala.  Create a list of five questions that you would ask her and include possible responses.  Each question and answer should be in complete sentences and you should use your background knowledge and what you have learned to answer the questions as if you were Malala.

Evaluation tool

Category 4 Advanced 3 Proficient 2 Basic 1 Below Basic
Focus All questions and answers are complete and on point Only one question/answer moved away from the point of focus.  Some details may be confusing. Some writing is not clear and often drifts away from the task causing confusion. The questions and answers are not focused and is confusing
Content All 5 questions and answers are included. At least 4 questions and answers and included. At least 3 questions and answers are included. There are only 1 or 2 questions and answers submitted.
Organization Writing is in proper interview (question and answer) format. Most of the writing is in proper format. Some of writing is in proper format. None of the writing is in proper format.
Style I used descriptive words and sentences are varied in length and structure. Most words address the prompt, but very few descriptive words are used. Very few descriptive words and little sentence variety. No descriptive words are used and many sentences are short and begin with the same word or are incomplete.
Conventions 0-1 errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation.  Writing is neat and legible. 2-3 errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation.  Writing is clear and legible. 4-5 errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation.  Some writing is difficult to read. More than 5 errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation.  Writing is not completely legible.

Resources:

Malala’s Official Website https://www.malala.org/malalas-story
Women’s History:  Malala Yousafzai the girl show by the Taliban (Educational Videos) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48pFoAObv_w
Read Aloud https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqRmBG_FNv4

 

Lesson 3: Amazing Grace and Malala’s Magic Pencil

Materials: Book, Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

Timeline: 3-5 days

Standards:

RL.3.9 Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters (e.g., in books from a series)

RL3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

W.3.4 With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose.

Objectives:

SWBAT refer explicitly to the text IOT ask and answer comprehension questions about a literary text

SWBAT describe the characters in a story, including their traits, motivations, or feelings IOT explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

SWBAT to respond to questions from a teacher or peer IOT clarify their written communication.

Lesson Plan:

Background: Amazing Grace is a fictional story about a girl named Grace that is determined to do whatever she wants, regardless of what her others think she should do.  Malala’s Magic Pencil is an autobiography picture book written by Malala Yousafzai, a young human rights activist from Pakistan whe encourages people to speak up for what they believe in.

  1. Review both books.  Guide discussion about genre, characters, plot, themes.
  2. Students will work with a partner to complete a venn diagram to compare and contrast how Grace and Malala are similar and different.  Allow students time to share their venn diagrams with the class.
  3. Students will use their venn diagram to write a paragraph that describes the similarities and differences between Grace and Malala.

Performance Task

Work with a partner to compare and contrast Grace from Amazing Grace to Malala from Malala’s Magic Pencil.  Use a venn diagram to record your comparison.  Use your venn diagram to write a paragraph that describes the similarities and differences between the girls.  Be sure to include evidence from the stories to support your answer. Include 2 ways the girls are similar and 2 ways they are different.

Evaluation tool

Category 4 Advanced 3 Proficient 2 Basic 1 Below Basic
Focus The paragraph is well written and stays on topic throughout. Most of the paragraph is on topic, but there the writing goes off topic once or twice. Some writing is not clear and often drifts away from the task causing confusion. The writing is not focused and is confusing.
Content Paragraph includes 2 similarities and 2 differences. Paragraph includes 1 or 2 similarities and  1 or 2 differences. Paragraph includes 1 similarity and 1 difference. Paragraph includes  1 similarity OR 1 difference.
Organization Writing has a strong introduction, body and conclusion. Transitions are used as needed. Most of the writing is in order, but transitions are missing. Some of the writing is in order, but there is some confusion due to organization. Writing is out of order and no transitions are used..
Style Includes descriptive words and sentences are varied in length and structure. Most sentences address the prompt, but very few descriptive words are used. Very few descriptive words and little sentence variety. No descriptive words are used and many sentences are short, begin with the same word or are incomplete.
Conventions 0-1 errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation.  Writing is neat and legible. 2-3 errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation.  Writing is clear and legible. 4-5 errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation.  Some writing is difficult to read. More than 5 errors in spelling, grammar or punctuation.  Writing is not completely legible.

Resources: Malala’s Magic Pencil and Amazing Grace

Lesson 4: Aiden Becomes a Brother by Kyle Lukoff

Materials: Book, Aiden Becomes a Brother by Kyle Lukoff,

Timeline: 5-7 days

Standards:

RL.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.

RL.3.9 Compare and contrast the themes, settings, and plots of stories written by the same author about the same or similar characters (e.g., in books from a series)

Objectives:

SWBAT refer explicitly to the text IOT ask and answer comprehension questions about a literary text

SWBAT describe the characters in a story, including their traits, motivations, or feelings IOT explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

Lesson Plan

Background Information:  Aiden is a young child that everyone thought was a girl.  Aiden did not feel comfortable with his girl name or dressing in girly clothes.  When born, he had a girl name that his parents chose.  Eventually, Aiden realized he was a trans boy and his parents let him change his name and changed the things in his life that didn’t make him happy.  He changed his clothes, his hair, and his bedroom.  His parents let him know that they were having another baby and Aiden works hard to make his new brother or sister feel more comfortable than he was as a younger child.

  1. Review genre.  Explain that the first book read Amazing Grace and this book are both realistic fiction.  They include fictional characters and situations that could actually occur in real life.
  2. Vocabulary: accidentally, purpose, transgender, gallon, adjust, confused
  3. Anticipatory questions
    1. What are some characteristics that are considered “boy” characteristics and what are some that are considered “girl” characteristics?  (Use T-chart in appendix)
      1. Possible responses:
        1. boy: adventurous, tall, strong, loud
        2. girl: small, quiet, neat, smart, kind
    2. How important is family and what types of things do you rely on your family for?
    3. Are all your friends and family members the same or do they have differences?  Are differences good or bad?
  4. Read the title and review the cover.  Have students make a prediction about what they think the book will be about.  Ask students is any of them are a big brother or if they have a big brother or sister?
  5. Literal Comprehension Questions
    1. What does everyone think about Aiden when he was born?
    2. What did Aiden think about his name, clothes and room?
    3. What question did Aiden not like hearing about the new baby?
  6. Compare how Aiden feels in the beginning of the story compared to the end? Students can use a venn diagram (optional).
  7. Good readers make connections when they read.  Have students fill in the Making Connections Chart in the appendix.
  8. Work with students to determine the theme of the book. (possible themes listed below)
    1. Individuality: Being yourself is important and being different is ok too.
    2. Family and friend connections: Family support and acceptance is important.
    3. Sense of belonging: Everyone wants to feel a sense of belonging whether it be in their family, school or other social settings.

Performance Task

Many characters change throughout a story.  Reread When Aiden Becomes a Brother and complete the story map provided in the appendix.  The map will help focus on the beginning, middle and end of the story and show how the characters develop and change throughout the story.

Evaluation Tool

  3 2 1 Total Points
Characters

 

I named the 3 main characters. I named 2 of the 3 main characters I named 1 characters
Setting I knew the exact setting. I was close but did not explain it accurately. I did not know the setting or named it incorrectly.
Beginning I was able to correctly identify the main idea of the beginning. I was able to identify some of the beginning. I was not able to correctly identify the main idea of the beginning.
Middle I was able to correctly identify the main idea of the middle. I was able to identify some of the middle. I was not able to correctly identify the main idea of the middle..
Ending I was able to correctly identify the main idea of the ending. I was able to identify some of the ending. I was not able to correctly identify the main idea of the ending.

Resources

Read Aloud https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8F2_UR4y0iw

 

Additional Story Map (or see Appendix) https://www.readingrockets.org/strategies/story_maps

 

Lesson 5: She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World

Materials: Book, She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton, chart paper, markers, internet for research, rubric for performance task

Timeline: 5-7 days

Standards:

RI.3.3 Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

CC.W.2. Write informative/ explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

CC.W.3.7 Conduct short research projects that build knowledge about a topic

Objectives:

SWBAT describe and identify historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, and technical procedures IOT describe the relationship between historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, and technical procedures in a text using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

SWBAT group related information together and use grade appropriate conventions of language IOT clearly communicate written information

SWBAT review given information from a variety of resources IOT create written work related to those resources that answers a specific research question.

Lesson Plan:

Background: This book features 13 different American women who persisted and were able to accomplish their dreams. The women included in the book are: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Talchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, and Sonia Sotomayor.  Students will discuss the theme of persistence and describe what qualities make a strong leader.  For the culminating activity, students will select an important historical female figure to research and write about.

Vocabulary: persisted, opportunities, content, impulse, fled, poverty, exposing, qualified, heritage, taunting, integrate, legacy, generations

By the way words: conductor, picket, monstrosity, protesters

  1. Review vocabulary
  2. Preview the cover and title and make predictions about the book.  Allow students to share their thoughts.
  3. Discuss the word persistence and allow students to share ideas and teacher will write ideas on an anchor chart.
  4. Complete a first read of the book. Write down the names of the 13 women on an anchor chart as you read about them.
  5. Provide the definition of the word: stereotype.  Create a t-chart that list “Boy things” on one side and “Girl things” on the other.  Allow students to share ideas of things that are considered stereotypes for specific genders.  As students share ideas, chart responses on anchor chart. (Possible responses are in resource section)
  6. After the tchart is complete, use the following questions for discussion:
    1. Do you think this list is true?  Should boys only do the things on their side?
    2. Can you think of someone that does not fall into their “expected” category?  For example, can you think of a girl that fixes cars or a boy that cooks?
    3. Have gender stereotypes changed over time?
  7. After a second read, work in groups to answer the following questions:
    1. What qualities make a good leader?
    2. How were the women in the stories similar?
    3. Describe a time when you had to persist.  What happened and how did you feel after the event?

Performance Task

Students will select one female from history to research.  They will use internet resources and books to research their person and find out more about their lives.  They can either create a google slide presentation, write 3 paragraphs, or pretend they are a reporter and create ten questions and answers to ask of their person.

Evaluation tool

Resources

Read aloud https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFJkBSbJe18
Harriet tubman Research

Video

 

Hellen Keller Research

Video

Clara Lemlich Research

Brave Girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 ( Read Aloud)

 

 

Nellie Bly Research

A Race Around the World The True story of Nellie Bly & Elizabeth Bisland(Read Aloud)

 

Video

Virginia Apgar Research

Video

Maria Tallchief Research

Video

Claudette Colvin Research

Video

Ruby Bridges Research

The Story of Ruby Bridges (Read Aloud)

Margaret Chase Smith Research

Video

Sally Ride Research

Video

 

Florence Griffith Joyner Research

Video

Oprah Winfrey Research

Video

Sonia Sotomayor Research

Video

 

Boy things Girl things
yard work cooking and cleaning
football cheerleading
fixing cars making crafts
working staying home

Resources

Bibliography for teachers

Michela Carlana, Implicit Stereotypes: Evidence from Teachers’ Gender Bias, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 134, Issue 3, August 2019, Pages 1163–1224, https://doi.org/10.1093/qje/qjz008

This study looks at tests that measure the impact of teacher gender biases on student achievement. It shows that the gap between achievement in math is wider for males and females depending on the gender biases of the teacher.

Liu, F. (2006). “School Culture and Gender.” In C. Skelton, B. Francis, & L. Smulyan (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Gender and Education (pp. 425–38). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

This study looks at how gender issues impact the school culture. It looks at schools and then focuses on the classroom as a small subset with its own school culture.

Makarova, E.  (2019).  “The Gender Gap in STEM FIelds: The Impact of the Gender Stereotype of Math and Science on Secondary Students’ Career Aspirations .  Frontiers in Education.  Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2019.00060.

This study looks at how males and females view STEM fields in relation to gender.  It looks at how the biases in Math and Science affect a person’s career and future options.

HEINE, PAT, et al. “Talking about Books: Strong Female Characters in Recent Children’s Literature.” Language Arts, vol. 76, no. 5, 1999, pp. 427–434. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41483001. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

This article defines what it means to be a strong female character and uses Karen Cushman’s (1996) The Ballad of Lucy Whipple as an exemplar text. The article also defines and explains the six characteristics to consider when examining children’s books for positive gender role models.

Karp, Karen, et al. “Feisty females: using children’s literature with strong female characters.” Teaching Children Mathematics, vol. 5, no. 2, 1998, p. 88+. Gale Academic OneFile  Retried February 15, 2021 from link.gale.com/apps/doc/A21230877/AONE?u=upenn_main&sid=AONE&xid=a06c55e1

This article focuses on the reasons why females seem to underperform in Mathematics, as compared to male students. The authors describe strong females as “hardy” and describe them as being in control and feeling responsible. Hardy or feisty females are problem solvers that are successful.  This article suggests several books to introduce strong female characters, but focuses on  ‘Swamp Angel,’ by Anne Isaacs.  It  can also be used to make a mathematics-literature interdisciplinary connection.

Guria, Michael, et al. “Single-Sex Classrooms Are Succeeding.” Educational Horizons, vol. 87, no. 4, 2009, pp. 234–245. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/42923774. Accessed 15 Feb. 2021.

This text focuses on the benefits of single sex classrooms in order to improve education equality.  It details different examples of how to provide single sex learning in various learning enviornments.  It also includes teacher testimonials to the success of this type of learning.

Young, Mykol C. H. A. B. “Gender Stereotyping and Under-Representation of Female Characters in 200 Popular Children’s Picture Books: A Twenty-First Century Update.” Sex Roles, vol. 55, no. 11-12, 2006, pp. 757-765. ProQuest,.

This article takes a look at gender stereotyping and the under-representation of girls in children’s literature.  They reviewed 200 award winning books and found almost twice as many male as female titles and main characters.  They also concluded that when female characters were portrayed, they were in stereotypical nurturing positions and occupations.  They compared books from the 1980s to 19990s and found evidence of sexism in all books.

Colley, Ann ; Comber, Chris & Hargreaves, David J. (1994). School Subject Preferences of Pupils in Single Sex and Co‐educational Secondary Schools. Educational Studies 20 (3):379-385.

This study found that there was less gender stereotyping in schools with single sex classrooms.

Carolyn Jackson & Ian David Smith (2000) Poles Apart? An exploration of single-sex and mixed-sex educational environments in Australia and England, Educational Studies, 26:4, 409-422, DOI: 10.1080/03055690020003610

This paper looks at single sex environments versus typical co-educational environments.  The paper focuses on a 10 year study of singe sex classes in Australian secondary schools.They determined that  the co-educational environments create disadvangtages for the girls as far as social interactions, but academic self-concept was not impacted negatively when moving from single-sex classes to mixed gender classes.

Alan, S.  (2018) “(PDF) Gender Stereotypes in the Classroom and Effects on Achievement.” ResearchGate  Retrieved May 1, 2021 from www.researchgate.net/publication/326432461_Gender_Stereotypes_in_the_Classroom_and_Effects_on_Achievement

This paper looks at the effects the teacher’s gender role belief has on students’ achievement.  The study focuses on the Turkish education system where teachers are often appointed for several years so they can see the long term effects.

Ascd. How Gender Disparities Affect Classroom Learning, Retrieved April from www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol15/num22/how-gender-disparities-affect-classroom-learning.aspx

This article examines how gender affects learning and how schools should respond to gender differences to best minimize negative effects for students.

Murphy, Patricia F. (ed.) (1996). Equity in the Classroom: Towards Effective Pedagogy for Girls and Boys. Routledge.

GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Retrieved April 25, 2021 from

https://www.glaad.org/transgender/resources

A website of resources for transgender youth and families.  The materials includes information on how to support people who are trans and how to access support and legal services

Human Rights Campaign. Welcoming Schools  Retrieved April 24, 2021 from

www.welcomingschools.org/pages/looking-atgender-identity-with-childrens-books/

This site has a book list with great diverse Children’s Books with Transgender, Non-Binder, and Gender Expansive Childrent.

Kyle Lukoff.  Retrieved May 1, 2021 from http://www.kylelukoff.com/

Kyle Lukoff is the author of When Aiden Becomes a Brother. This is the website of this author and gives background information on the author and the books he wrote.

Teaching Tolerance Anti-Bias Framework Retrieved April 2, 2021 from https://www.learningforjustice.org/sites/default/files/general/TT%20anti%20bias%20framework%20pamphlet_final.pdf

The Anti-bias Framework (ABF) is a set of anchor standards and age-appropriate learning outcomes divided into four domains—identity, diversity, justice and action (IDJA). It can be used by teachers to develop a curriculum that is equitable.

The standards provide a common language and organizational structure: Teachers can use

England, Paula and Levine, Andrew.  Progress toward gender equality in the United States has slowed or stalled.  Retried March 20, 2021 from https://www.pnas.org/content/117/13/6990

This website recipes the research from the 1970’s to 2018 regarding the dramatic change in gender equality.  It looks at multiple indicators like employment trends, educational opportunities, pay differences, and segregation of fields of study and occupations.

Brown, J., Gilyard, K, Norgren, A.  Non-Negotiables for Supporting Trans & Nonbinary Students in Your Classroom:  Eliminating transphobia in schools starts with compassionate educators who are committed to learning.

This article addresses ways to reduce transphobia in classrooms and the role educators need to play in this. 

Dayton, Denise.  Careers That Are Male Dominated.  Retried May 20, 2021 from https://work.chron.com/careers-male-dominated-10935.html

This article provides information from the U.S. Census Bureau regarding male dominated careers.

Kachel, Debra  PennLive.  Students need equity in school library programs. Retrieved May 17, 2021 from https://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2021/05/students-need-equity-in-school-library-programs-opinion.html.

This article discusses the data sound school libraries in various school districts in Pennsylvania and specifically looks at the School District of Philadelphia.

Messano, F., Atwood,S.  How Schools are Meeting Social- Emotional Needs During the Pandemic.  September 22,2020.

This article discusses the importance of social and emotional learning for students, especially since Covid.

Responsive Classroom.  Retrieved June 6, 2021 from https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/about/research/

This website, The Responsive Classroom, explains the benefits of social and emotional learning in the classroom.

Williams, Robert. (2018) Racial/Gender Biases in Student Clinical Decision-Making: a Mixed-Method Study of Medical School Attributes Associated with Lower Incidence of Biases.  Journal of General Internal Medicine.   https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-018-4543-2

This research looks at how racial and gender biases contribute to health disparities.  The objective of the study was to identify the factors that reduce the biases in the medical field.

Reading list for students

  1. Amazing Grace- Grace is a young girl that wants to play Peter Pan in a school play but is told she can’t because Peter is a a boy and white.  Grace ends up getting the part and does a great job.
  2. Malala’s Magic Pencil- Malala is a young girl from Pakistan who dreams of using a magic pencil to draw a better and more peaceful world.  She writes to educate others about how girls is from Pakistan are not able to go to school.
  3. When Aiden Became a Brother- a young child is born and everyone thought the child was a girl and given a girl’s name.  He selected the name Aiden and changed his bedroom to feel more comfortable.  His parents tell him he is having a sibling and Aiden becomes a big brother.
  4. She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton- 13 short passages about strong American women who made major contributions to society in a wide range of ways.

List of materials for classroom use

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai

When Adian Becomes a Brother by Kyle Lukoff

She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World by Chelsea Clinton

Venn Diagram

Character chart

Research table for She Persisted lesson.

Appendix

Name: ____________________________                Date:  ______________________

Malala’s Magic Pencil

Malala is a young human rights activist that takes action against an injustice.  Complete the chart below to show how Malala’s action helps us understand her better.

 

Action What It Tells Me About Malala
Malala had dreams of using the pencil to make beautiful dresses for her mother, schools for her Father to help children, and a ball for her brothers. Malala is a kind person that thinks of others.
Malala told her Father about the girl she saw sorting through trash and the boys looking for metal.
Malala worked hard in school.
Malala wrote about being scared to walk to school.
Malala wished she could make the world a more peaceful place.

 

 

 

 

Name: ______________________________________      Date: ____________________

When Aiden Becomes a Brother

Boy vs. Girl Characteristics

 

Boy Girl
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name: ______________________________________      Date: ____________________

Making Connections with When Aiden Becomes a Brother

 

Connection Example
Text to Self:  What connections did you make to your own life?  What does Aiden’s feelings mean to you?

 

Text to Text: Does this book remind you of another book you have read?  How are they similar?

 

Text to World: How does this book remind you of something you have seen in the world?  Is this like anything you have seen on television?

 

 

 

 

 

Name: _____________________________    Date: _____________

When Aiden Becomes a Brother Story Map

 

Main Characters  

 

Setting  

 

 

 

Beginning  

 

 

 

Middle  

 

 

 

Ending