Upstanders: How to Engage Middle School Hearts and Minds with Inquiry is a new book from Harvey “Smokey” Daniels (@smokeylit) and Sara Ahmed (@SaraKAhmed). Smokey is your guide to Sara’s classroom. Together they’ll show you exactly how Sara uses inquiry to turn required curricular topics into questions so fascinating that young adolescents can’t resist investigating them. Units that meet all the literacy and research complexity that standards call for as well as teaching critical thinking, citizenship, and compassion.
In our Upstanders blog series, Sara and Smokey will highlight topics in the book related to middle school and helping kids go from bystanders to upstanders. Before all of that, Sara talks about the influence behind Upstanders.
Facing History and Ourselves
by Sara K. Ahmed
There’s one other important influence on my work that I should mention here: Facing History and Ourselves (@facinghistory). Facing History “combats racism with history,” helping secondary teachers and students see history through the eyes of the victims, perpetrators, bystanders, and upstanders. My mentor in this organization, Chuck Meyers, showed me how to view history as the human story. This lens rocked my world, and I’ve seen it give my students the gift of perspective.
The term “upstander” and the Facing History and Ourselves resources described in this book were developed as part of the Facing History and Ourselves sequence of study. This powerful sequence begins with identity—first individual identity and then group identities with their definitions of membership—and then moves to a case study of the failure of democracy in Germany and the steps leading to the Holocaust as well as other cases of mass violence in recent history. It ends with examples of responsible participation, urging students to find connections and think about how they can make positive differences in their own worlds.
Facing History reaches more than 90,000 educators and nearly three million students in 150 countries each year via educator workshops, community events, online resource, and a catalogue of lessons. Facing History brings students’ empathy to a new level: perspective and wonder lead to critical reading and thinking, awareness, advocacy, and action for those who may not have the opportunity to speak for themselves.
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Sara K. Ahmed has taught in urban, suburban, public, independent, and international schools. Harvey "Smokey" Daniels has been a city and suburban classroom teacher and college professor, and now works as a national consultant and author on literacy education.