First Chapter Fridays

Teaching during the 2020 Election?

This resource is part of our Election 2020 collection, designed to help you teach about voting rights, media literacy, and civic participation, in remote and in-person settings.

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This routine fosters empathy, perspective-taking, and active listening as you build community around stories and storytelling. When teachers read aloud to students, it can increase students’ comprehension and reduce anxiety, but teachers rarely do so outside of elementary school. Open class on Fridays, or one synchronous class period each week, by reading the first chapter from a high-interest book that reflects the identities and lived experiences of your students.

Face-to-Face Learning

If possible, arrange the class in a circle and read aloud from the first chapter of a book that you think will interest your students. Decide in advance where you will stop, looking for places that will leave students asking for more. Invite students to just listen or doodle in their journals if that helps them focus. Alternatively, show a video of the author reading from their book. Then ask students to discuss the following questions in pairs, small groups, or as a class: What struck you as interesting or important? What’s worth talking about?

Remote Learning

Invite students to sit somewhere comfortable. Then open class by reading aloud from the first chapter of a book. Decide in advance where you will stop, looking for places that will leave students asking for more. As you read, invite students to doodle or write a question or comment in the chat if it helps them connect to the story. Alternatively, play a video of the author reading from their book. Then ask students to think about the following questions:

  • What struck you as interesting or important? 
  • What’s worth talking about?

Students can respond in the chat, or, time allowing, you can send them to breakout rooms in small groups for a short discussion.

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