True Role Models: Elementary Students Encounter Familiar Stories in a Customized Curriculum That Helps Them Understand the Bigger World.

By Pascopella, Angela | District Administration, November 2002 | Go to article overview

True Role Models: Elementary Students Encounter Familiar Stories in a Customized Curriculum That Helps Them Understand the Bigger World.


Pascopella, Angela, District Administration


A few years ago, elementary students in Detroit Public Schools didn't even have a social studies curriculum. Now, as 55,000 K-2 students in this diverse city start to learn about their surroundings, histories and their own cultures, they are given their own role models and sense of identity in the district's innovative, customized K-2 social studies program. The textbooks used are created specifically for Detroit, and they show pictures of youths in the city, American Indians in their native dress, explanations of holidays such as Kwanzaa and descriptions of families in Africa. The allure for students is that these books are anything but run-of-the-mill texts that explain what can be considered typical white traditions.

"You have to be an owner of history to enjoy history," says Dahia Shabaka, a former teacher who became director of the district's social studies curriculum seven years ago. "If you never see yourself in history, especially in the earlier grades, it's hard for you to buy into that concept."

In a district where 92 percent of students are African-American, Shabaka says, "I wanted the kids to understand that ... they live in a world that is not [primarily] African-American. How do you live together and how do you learn to live with others? They have a rich legacy and history. But there are other cultures. And we learn to respect this kind of stuff. That's what we hope they get from this."

CUSTOMIZED CURRICULUM

The textbooks were published by Metropolitan Teaching and Learning Company (materials tailored to www.metrotlc. com), an African-American-owned publisher of textbooks and instructional urban students and teachers from pre-K to middle school. Formerly named Curriculum Concepts, the company has been around for 25 years but only recently discovered the importance of such tailored books for urban kids, says Reginald Powe, Metro's president and CEO.

"Three years ago, we looked at the greatest need we perceived in education and that was the achievement gap between urban kids and the rest of the country. Reading and math were the big ones," Powe says. Metro books are now found in many urban districts, including Chicago, New York, Houston and Atlanta.

Introduced in September 1999 in Detroit, the curriculum combines a research-proven, step-by-step learning approach. "This program is the first customized social studies program in the country developed specifically for urban kids," Powe says.

"You're motivating [children when they see] images of themselves and their surroundings," Powe says. "If you don't have children of color or very few of them in the books, and they don't see themselves in their own environment, it's difficult to relate to. They want to see kids that look like them and environments that look like theirs."

For example, in the "Family" textbook program, a family is headed by the grandfather. "It reflects the real family," Powe says. "Every school district has a right to get the kind of books they want and need for their children. ... [This] reflects the city of Detroit, their curriculum and the Detroit objective."

LEARNING MORE THAN SOCIAL STUDIES

Shabaka remembers that when she first became social studies director, the district had nearly ignored teaching social studies and didn't even have a core curriculum or text materials for the subject. On top of that, major publishers failed to prioritize elementary social studies, Shabaka says. "Even though we said they were taking social studies, they were not."

So, she and staff members, along with a committee of Detroit educators, worked with the state to develop core curriculum objectives to match the state's social studies standards. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

True Role Models: Elementary Students Encounter Familiar Stories in a Customized Curriculum That Helps Them Understand the Bigger World.
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.