This week’s scenario is West Bridgewater Middle-Senior high school. West Bridgewater has an enrollment—for both middle and high school—of 606 students. It’s a small school in a small town. Also, Plymouth county is one of the most politically conservative towns in the entire state. That doesn’t necessarily mean any one thing in particular, but the parents of these students live in this county and it’s these households they were raised in.
3/9/2021 02:55:35 pm
It may be important to emphasize the significance of danger in the life of marginalized communities in urban areas. It is important for students to understand the context of anti-snitching culture and it's relation to police enforcement and the because there's definitely a subset of people who have no idea why people would refuse to cooperate with police. So it might be good to elaborate not only on the sort of violence and gang culture that exists in urban areas, but why those cultures even exist in the first place. It could also be nice as a sort of introduction to poetry in that it's fairly easy to read and you can get through it quickly and realize you can get through it easy, and I think kids would definitely appreciate that. So serving as an easy introduction on a mechanical level would probably simultaneously ease them into discussions of violence and racism and other related themes
3/14/2021 03:04:45 pm
The important to be emphasize of the significance of any danger is that life can be marginalized communities in the urban areas. So it is important for a students to understand how the context and anti-snitching culture and how the relation to the police enforcement so it's can subset the people who don't have any ideas why people can be refuse to cooperate with the police.
3/9/2021 03:03:56 pm
In my group, as we almost all want to teach and myself already teaching, this book seems like the perfect book to introduce students to poetry and violence without being so in your face about it. It's one of those books that always has something going on and isn't a read that your students will put down half way through because they got bored, it sucks you in and keeps you there till the end. The gun violence discussed is almost thrown in there and gives a chance for some students, if any, to connect to maybe something happening in their past, or maybe just something that they saw on the news. This book has a little something for everyone whether it's an insight on ones mind and emotions, or just the way it's written may be something they've never seen before and want to explore more of.
3/9/2021 03:04:49 pm
I think that using this text to introduce the idea how far institutionalized racism actually affects the everyday life of people of color in marginalized communities. Shawn went to the store to buy soap for his mother on the "wrong" street, and this ultimately led to his death. The kinds of things that middle class/upper middle class white people do not need to worry about- which store they choose to buy soap from. Also, how normal it is to have friends from childhood that died violently at the park. the PTSD that comes with being raised in an area that is unsafe in that way is very impactful to those raised in the community.
3/9/2021 03:04:53 pm
I think teaching this book to a primarily white class as a white teacher, it would be important to use other mentor texts/pieces of media to show students how marginalized urban communities are affected by bad relations with cops, and why this divide/fear around the police exists historically and is still perpetuated to this day. As a white person, I do not know from a personal experience what it is like to be targeted and discriminated against for my racial identity, so uplifting POC's voices to add context to this story in a sensitive but confrontational way would be the best way to get students to understand why this issue is prevalent in low income, urban settings, and how this ties in with racial discrimination as well. Having some understanding of these issues is important to fully contextualize the themes and issues explored in this text.
3/9/2021 03:14:47 pm
I enjoyed reading your response and ideas on teaching racism, racial identity, etc. I agree that the use of mentor texts or media would be essential to this lesson as a white woman teaching a largely white classroom. I also mentioned in my response this idea of relatability and not being able to speak to the experience of discrimination and oppression. In addition to incorporating mentor texts and media, I wonder if bringing in a speaker or maybe even pairing this text with music might be an effective method of teaching this book too.
3/9/2021 03:05:22 pm
If I were to teach this class in a 9th grade English class, considering that this is a small town with majority white students the largest challenge would be getting the students to relate to this story as something that can happen in real life. Even if you can get them to understand this text it is still most likely something they will not be able to relate to considering their backgrounds. There is always a sense of joy and pride when students can comprehend the subject you are teaching. I would say this is something I would enjoy even more so given the situation, as this is something that at some point or another they will see (at least on the news) if they have not been exposed to it already. In our break-out room we had already begun discussing how you could teach this in a way the students could understand the terrifying reality that this young main character is living. I mentioned possibly having them watch a documentary, in addition to the reading, on gun violence and systematic racism. The discussion from here would hopefully prompt more understanding and give them more context as the situations displayed in the text are probably not something they have previously experienced.
3/9/2021 03:05:26 pm
My concern in thinking about teaching this text is twofold: I don't want a classroom of majority white students to read this text as poverty porn--there are plenty of images of black communities that are destroyed by gun violence everywhere you look. And when you look at a lot of the video games that students play, it is often black and brown characters that are the bad guys. So I don't need that to happen again here. I don't want my students to imagine that gun violence or revenge killing is limited to poor, black and brown young men. At the same time, I don't want to make it seem like this could be any story anywhere. The last time I taught this novel, students talked a lot about the Parkland massacre and Columbine. But that's not the same kind of gun violence as described in this novel. That's a discussion that elides a conversation about systemic racism. Here is the thing: I don't have a clear picture of what I'd do with this novel except that I'd like to make it a part of a class. My go to is always to bring in other texts--like Girl, like j7th grade, but, also, like Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet or even some Poe would work herej--revenge killing is not just happening in Black and Brown neighborhoods. And then the other thing is that I wonder about: parents. I think there would be a lot of push back about teaching this text. That is never a reason not to teach a text--as a tenured teacher I would PUSH BACK HARD. But it's a battle that would come, for sure.
3/9/2021 03:06:11 pm
This book is so full of literary ingenuity, which means it could be a really cool text to focus on to introduce poetry in a different way to students. Additionally, this book shares a story about situations that are real and scary and maybe unfamiliar to some students. I think this book could be a really important conversation starter as students start to compare the situation to their own lives. I think it would be a good text to consider the societal rules and pressures that dictate how we function as communities as societies. I think this would be a really good book to cultivate awareness about the different communities students come from. This book also reminded me of the “Outsiders” which talks about white greasers in a similar situation. (can’t remember if that book is YA or not). I think using books like these, especially in a community where students may not have to deal with these situations as frequently, would be a good way to educate students.
3/9/2021 03:06:27 pm
The joys would be the introduction to poetic language, the duality of the descriptions. There could be conversations about the complexities of these characters that we’re suddenly introduced to—how the author enables us to understand their part in the story quickly. The story is a quick read but requires the reader to think on their feet to understand the complex plot.
3/9/2021 03:06:33 pm
To be honest I think this text would be great to show to a ninth grade classroom, espesially one that is mostly white. It is stories like this one that open the door to having talks about race in the classroom. I believe it is important for a teacher to talk and teach about this topic so that the future generation will be well rounded and educated about many topics. I also think it is important for there to be more people of color author's within the classroom. When I was in High School I don't think I ever read a book that wasn't from a White author. We need to have more diversity in the classroom and we need to teach kids about racism. They need to know that racism is not a thing in the past but is something that is still happening today. Kids need to be aware of the struggles people of color face so that they have the chance to break the cycle. Allies are extremely important for a movement, White people need to use their privilege to help people of color. This story would allow a teacher to bring up the subject of racism in an organic way within the classroom. It would give the teacher a chance to show how bad racism is in America. I just think it is really important to educate kids about all minority groups. One of the biggest reasons people hate minority groups is because they don't understand them and a way to help this is to educate people.
Demi C Riendeau
3/9/2021 03:07:11 pm
I thought about teaching this text a lot over the last week and how to teach it, specifically how to teach it in a white majority classroom. I was having a difficult time thinking about to teach this content and make the information accessible. I think a series of text pairs would be most beneficial. I think reading this text after reading Hamlet would be beneficial to make specific contrasts from the two and talk about the prevalent themes in both. There should be a deeper understanding made for students before this happens on the specific systemic context of Long Way Down. A podcast that has stayed with me that we listened to in 301 was on Harper High School from This American Life. I would not necessarily make students to listen to all of this, but perhaps choose sections of specific stories and interviews to show students the real world implications of this text. The ending of this podcast would also be very beneficial to show students how wide spread this issue is and how many areas are affected by it. My biggest concern with teaching this text would be that students do not understand the specific severe implications and reality of it. Before I would have a discussion comparing this and Hamlet, or even of other short stories we read the possessed a form of rules, I would want to ensure that students understand the severity of gun violence and its role in many students live that are also their age.
3/9/2021 03:08:32 pm
Teaching this text, Long Way Down, given the environment of the school and the group of students in question, seems to be a challenge in itself. I think that one of the biggest complexities this novel might present in this particular 9th grade classroom, is a lack of relatability for students. Based on the demographic of the school’s county, I think it’s fair to say that most of the students, if not all the students, have not experienced many of the things Will faces in the novel. That being said however, there are also many things these students can learn from reading Long Way Down about systemic racism, poverty, and gun violence. As a white woman myself, I don’t feel as though I have the right to speak to racism totally. But, white Americans should be just as much a part of the discussion about systematic racism as those who are systematically oppressedㅡ meaning that we have a sort of responsibility to become educated on the topic.
3/9/2021 03:10:09 pm
This text would be ideal to teach to middle schoolers for them to understand, but being a predominantly white class, it might be difficult or complex to teach this subject matter. I would would preface this text with explaining the complexity of the situation to my students before we dive into it.
3/9/2021 03:11:21 pm
If Long Way Down was being taught in a 9th grade English class in Plymouth County, I think it would be difficult to gauge what the potential response of the parents would be. However, knowing the percentage of white families that live in this county, I can infer that the students have probably never encountered gun violence nor spent enough time in an urban community to see what happens there. The joys of teaching this text would be exposing these students to a way of life they probably either did not know exists, or have a skewed perspective of—which can sometimes be a direct result of their upbringing. As someone who is extremely passionate about social justice and issues pertaining to gun violence in minority communities, I know that communities that are conservative often promote the idea that Black people are ‘violent’ and choose to live this lifestyle rather than it being a generational thing that is a result of systematic and systemic racism. Some complexities that may arise through teaching this book is teaching in a way that promotes honing critical thinking skills and allowing for a space where unlearning ideologies that are detrimental to the progress of society is possible.
3/9/2021 03:20:24 pm
This sort of literature is universal for its didactic perspective. It teaches that killing is a slippery slope, vengeance is insatiable, death is something you can never come back from, and a killer is a loser who misses the point. Killing leads to one of two destinations, and one of two of a third destination. You can go to prison for life or you can rot in the grave till kingdom comes. The third destination is either heaven or hell where you are at the mercy of the higher decisions in the spiritual world. Either way you can kiss your mother Earth goodbye and bring your hopes and dreams to a halt. This is true in every culture, society and environment.
3/9/2021 03:21:02 pm
When teaching this book to a ninth grade class it would be important to consider the students home life and their knowledge and relationship with death as it is a big topic in the book. Some students may have personal experiences with death and others may not, it is a hard topic to address with students. Considering that the majority of the class is white middle class it is expected that they wouldn’t have personal experiences with gun violence and violent deaths. This book can be a good introduction to guns and gun violence.
3/9/2021 03:21:12 pm
When teaching this text, I find it is important to first bring up this cycle that these young men are stuck in. After discussing the cycle, you can bring up the topic of systemic racism, and how many people of marginalized groups from generation to generation, are stuck in a cycle because in the past, they were treated like nothing, and given nothing, and in the present, they are shamed for being “nothing”. I find this would be a challenge due to the parent’s opinions of the subject at hand, but I also find that the novel can be backed by history, because the topic of systemic racism, brings up the topic of history. I think this story would be great to teach because it is a great introduction into what happens in communities that are affected by systemic racism, to educate these children on history that is often left out of the classroom.
3/23/2021 02:54:49 pm
In the scenario giving teaching this book to a ninth grade class, (given the majority of the students being caucasian) I would consider many things. Being a future educator of color, I feel like my emotions in some topics can really be shown and hold the students attention.One of the most important being setting a positive environment. Once the classroom and students feel comfortable enough (in every race) to explain their thoughts and feelings on hard topics like racism, then I would introduce the book Long Way Down. I would explain to my class that violence portrayed in the book and other scenarios unfortunately happen in the world around us each and every day. After reading certain sections, I will be sure to read the children's faces and moods to make sure they are okay with moving forward. After everything is read, I will also open my classroom to any questions or comments as we move forward!
3/31/2021 03:35:33 pm
One of the complexities that could come from teaching a predominately white classroom about Long Way Down is talking about gun violence and the racial stereotypes that surround it. Gun violence is a sensitive topic on it’s own and is something that needs to be approached with great consideration in a classroom setting. It can happen in any community, and even though West Bridgewater is a suburban area, some students could have experienced gun violence while others are completely unfamiliar with it. Because the violence in Long Way Down is gang related, I would be careful not to perpetuate ill-informed racial stereotypes, and instead would have students examine how gangs originated and the societal influences that gave rise to them. On a different note, I think it would be interesting to discuss how such a horribly heavy and tragic story is told entirely in short verses. I would ask them to think about the significance of Reynold’s choice in doing so, and how it resonated with them as the reader.
Brittany Ann Oppenheimer
4/27/2021 02:47:25 pm
Personally, one of the joys of reading this book is that the whole story takes place on this one elevator. Hence, the long way down. When I critically think about the setting itself, I can imagine how difficult, or, maybe not difficult, it would be to write a story in such a small space like this. With that being said, teaching this to a 9th grade class does come with it's complexities. I think the biggest issue is the fact that my students would have to figure out everyone's connection to each individual person. At times, it became hard to remember who did what with such a big cast. With that being said, I also think that the theme of revenge can also be a tough theme to swallow sometimes depending on how it's told. Due to those important 3 rules that the narrator explains during the beginning of the story itself, it was hard to say if this revenge is justified or not. For some students, it might be, for others, it might not. I think having my students try to figure out what "they feel" about the story itself is what is going to make a good conversation as a whole. Finally, I feel that teaching this to a 9th grade class would fit best, but you have to remember that relatability is something the students should be open with and I think that's something to think about too.
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