All workshops can be adjusted to meet the language level of any class, just ask!
Student Workshop: My Dungeon Shook: How Does Your Culture See You and What Can You Do About It? (Democracy and citizenship) (Health and life skills)
On January 1st, 1963, the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves, James Baldwin published an “open letter” to his nephew, explaining the racism he will experience as a Black man in America. In 2015, Ta-Nahisi Coates published an updated version, advising his young son. These two letters are part of a tradition in the Black community called “The Talk.” For people like me, white, middle class, The Talk was an awkward and very short discussion with our parents about puberty. For people of color, The Talk is about life and death. For Black parents, The Talk describes what to do when you come in contact with the police, store owners, or other authority figures. In this workshop, we will look closely at this advice, reflect on how we become aware of our racial differences, and develop ideas for what we can do about it.
Student Workshop: “How Long? Not Long!”: Does the Arc of History Bend Towards Justice or Chaos? (Democracy and citizenship)
The concept of gradual change in civil rights was made famous by Martin Luther King. He concluded a speech by reminding us that “the arc of the moral universe is long but bends towards justice.” President Obama had these words sewn into the seal of the oval office rug. But there is a parallel to this view of history, expressed by King in the same speech. He states, “How Long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.” Recently, calls for patience have worn thin. The Black Lives Matter movement is no longer willing to wait. In this workshop, we will look at the advances made by the Civil Rights Movement and the sudden change brought about by Black Lives Matter. We will ask what progress has been made and whether we are bending towards justice or chaos?
Student Workshop: What Would Black Lives Matter Activists Say to Martin Luther King? (Democracy and citizenship)
A new era of Black civil rights protest began in the summer of 2015 and exploded in 2020, following the murder of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. The Black Lives Matter movement is not only a turning point in public opinion, it represents a split with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s as well. In this workshop, students will learn about how BLM and CRM differ in their approach to activism. We will investigate the changing perception of riots, feminism, LGBTQ rights, and the historical role of the Black church in the struggle for civil rights.
Student Workshop: A Tale of Two Dons: How Donald Trump Split My Little Town in Two (Democracy and citizenship)
Selah, Washington, has always been a sleepy, rural community where families move to raise their children. I grew up here in a perfect bubble in the 1970s and ’80s. 2020 changed all of that. Our town, known as the “Apple Juice Capital of the World,” erupted in open conflict over a Black Lives Matter march, Covid restrictions, and even chalk art. At the center of it all were two Dons: Donald Trump and our city administrator, Donald Wayman, a former Marine with a history of sexual misconduct and a love of conflict rivaled only by the president. The battle for our town has gone to court, landed in the New York Times, twice, and resulted in resignations, firings, and a sense that the perfect bubble we lived in is lost for good. Together, we will examine the way the national debate trickles down to the local level. Did either side take it too far, and what can be done to bring us together?
Student Workshop: How to Robot-Proof Your Education (Democracy and citizenship)
There is a wave coming, and we have our back turned to it. In 2013, Oxford University published a report that concluded nearly half of all jobs were automatable “over the next decade or two.” My students have been researching this question for the past five years. We have yet to find a career that is completely safe. In this workshop, students will learn what skills we can automate and where humans still hold the advantage. We will ask, what should we be learning to protect our future? How should we be learning it? And who should be teaching it to us?
Student Workshop: “Do Your Own Research”: Information Diets in the Age of Filter Bubbles, Bots, Deep Fakes, and The Big Lie (Democracy and citizenship) (Health and life skills)
At one point, the internet seemed like the greatest breakthrough since the printing press. Now, it threatens to plunge us into a new dark age dominated by superstition and tribalism. In this workshop, students will learn how AI creates “filter bubbles” that control what we see and don’t see. We will examine how “deep fakes” and other disinformation techniques cast doubt on what we take to be the truth. We will trace how these trends result in a world of conspiracy theories that tear at our social fabric. Finally, we will look at ways to choose a healthier “information diet” through “CRAAP” tests, government regulations, and corporate policies.
Student Workshop: Poetry Workshops (Health and life skills)
This workshop is a chance for us to write poetry together, using prompts that I have found to produce terrific poems in a short period. I love teaching creative writing. My particular focus has been on teaching poetry. I have published several books of poetry and run a small press recognized both regionally and nationally. I even have a 100-year-old printing press in my garage! In short, poetry is the reason I became a teacher. This workshop is for all levels of students.