The Arabic Quilt

This is a fantastic book to introduce intent vs impact. So often, in our efforts to address conflict we focus on intent so that the other person understands why we didn't mean it the way they think. When in reality, often the person only needs a sincere apology and to know that we understand how what we did was harmful. It's about centering their experience and not centering our own.

-Dena

Social Justice Activities:

  • Create activities that allow students to share information and keep note of what students share like a formative assessment. As you think about your culturally relevant practices, ask yourself, how can I center students' families in my instruction like the teacher in The Arabic Quilt does?

  • Build Classroom Community. This feels generic to say because every teacher thinks they already do this. But in my experience, doing this work well requires us to give up significant "academic" minutes. But when we do this well, we're actually not giving up time because strong classroom communities will use their academic time more efficiently.

  • Center your students' languages in your instruction. What languages do family members of your students' speak. With students, create a word cloud with many different words that describe your learning community (collaborative, joyful, focused, etc.) and translate some of the words in the family languages. Display it in your classroom.

Relevant Social Justice Standards:

Identity 1. Students will develop positive social identities based on their membership in multiple groups in society.

Diversity 6. Students will express comfort with people who are both similar to and different from them and engage respectfully with all people.

Diversity 7. Students will develop language and knowledge to accurately and respectfully describe how people (including themselves) are both similar to and different from each other and others in their identity groups.

Diversity 8. Students will respectfully express curiosity about the history and lived experiences of others and will exchange ideas and beliefs in an open-minded way.

Diversity 10. Students will examine diversity in social, cultural, political and historical contexts rather than in ways that are superficial or oversimplified.

Justice 15. Students will identify figures, groups, events and a variety of strategies and philosophies relevant to the history of social justice around the world.

Action 20. Students will plan and carry out collective action against bias and injustice in the world and will evaluate what strategies are most effective.

Reading Strategies:

Character Analysis: Analyze the way Molly apologizes for laughing at Kanzi's mom's language? Why does Kanzi respond in the way she does? What does this teach us about intent vs. impact.

Theme: Evaluate the solution the teacher and Kanzi's mother apply. Rather than give the kids a talk about how they should appreciate diversity, Mrs. Haugen centers Egyptian culture and the Arabic language in her classroom instruction. What is the theme that the author is expressing?

Book Details:
  • Fiction, All Ages
  • Perspectives: Egyptian-American, Arabic speakers
  • Author's stated heritage: Egyptian-American
  • Subject Integration: Art, Geography, Language

Book covers images are from publishers and in the public domain