Moral Issues in the Language Arts Curriculum

In the videos below activities designed to deepen student understanding of literature also raise interpersonal and moral understanding, empathy, social justice, or cultural awareness. The Developmental Studies Center created two literature curricula, Reading, Thinking, and Caring for kindergarten through 3rd grade and Reading for Real for 4th through 8th grade. The activities shown in the videos below are examples of those curricula. While the curriculum guides for these programs are no longer available, the videos provide examples of what integrating such an approach into the language arts curriculum might look like

Felita Blues

Felita Blues

A mixed race, gifted and talented fourth-fifth grade class in Louisville, Kentucky discusses the book Felita by Nicholasa Mohr in which a Puerto Rican family reluctantly chooses to leave their new neighborhood when they face extreme prejudice.

Harriet Tubman and Tim Meeker

Harriet Tubman and Tim Meeker

After hearing a chapter from Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman by Dorothy Sterling, fifth grade student in a mixed race gifted and talented class in Louisville, Kentucky engage in a series of language arts activities.

How We Learned To Eat

How We Learned To Eat

After listening to the book How My Parents Learned to Eat by Ina R. Friedman and Allen Say, about the meeting, courtship, and marriage of a young American sailor and a Japanese school girl, a second grade class in White Plains, New York discuses, first in partnerships and then as a class, how the American young man and the Japanese young woman are alike.

Imagining Weedpatch

Imagining Weedpatch

A mostly African-American fifth grade class in Emeryville, California, listens to a chapter from Children of the Dust Bowl by Jerry Stanley and then discuss whether it was right for the educator Leo Hart to start a separate school for the “Okie” children rather than let them suffer the unfair treatment in their local California school.

Miss Maggie

Miss Maggie

Third grade students in a Spanish bi-lingual class in Hayward, California discuss the story Miss Maggie by Cynthia Rylant, about a young boy who overcomes his fear of an old woman who lives alone nearby.

What Did Jamaica Find?

What Did Jamaica Find?

After listening to the book, Jamaica’s Find by Janita Havill and Anne Sibley O’Brian, a first grade class in Cupertino, California discuses whether it was okay for Jamaica to take home and keep for herself a doll she found at the park.

What Should JT Do

What Should JT Do

A group of second and third grade students from Louisville, Kentucky who have been reading in partners the book J. T. by Jane Wagner discuss what the boy, J.T., should do about two older boys who have been threatening to beat him up.

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