No More "Us" and "Them": Classroom Lessons and Activities to Promote Peer Respect

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It is imperative that teachers build community in their classrooms and across their academic teams and grades in order to make school a safe and supportive place for adolescents. Teachers must help their students acknowledge that they belong to a group together, that they are part of a “we” or “us,” and that any differences—divergent talents, backgrounds, experiences, cultures, and skills—only make “us” stronger and better.

No More “Us” and “Them” delineates what steps educators can take to create an atmosphere where adolescent students feel accepted, included, and valuable to themselves and to their peers. The goal of this book is to change adolescent attitudes to lead to not just acceptance and tolerance, but toward an expansion of “us” and respect for their classmates that will serve to spread an even wider net of respect.

This book provides ideas for lessons and activities that can be integrated into existing curricula and that meet a variety of content area standards in language arts, social studies, science, mathematics, foreign languages, physical education, art, and music, while also proposing ideas for advisory or homeroom periods and class, team, and grade gatherings to build respect in our classrooms, our schools, and our communities.

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About the Author:

Lesley Roessing was a middle school teacher for over twenty years. She is author of The Write to Read: Response Journals That Increase Comprehension. Ms. Roessing now teaches pre-service middle-level teachers in the College of Education at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia, and works with teachers in all grade levels and content areas in her role as director of the Coastal Savannah Writing Project.

Review:

Truly a book embracing the 21st century learner which is focused on the STUDENT! In No More 'Us' and 'Them', teachers are provided strategies to hook students to become responsible for their own learning. A must read for every middle school teacher. (Sharon S. Sand, chief academic officer, Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools)

We have a lot to learn from our students and each other. Lesley Roessing shares her story that illustrates just how much you can discover through the power of collaboration. This book is a vehicle to share ideas and proven successful strategies. Just like our classrooms, our professional community 'is built cumulatively, one activity at a time.' (Lee Ann Wentzel, superintendent of schools, Ridley School District, Folsom, PA)

At the core of teaching and learning is a meaningful relationship between teachers and students. This new generation of learners requires special cultivation, purposeful dialogue, and relevant exposure. In No More 'Us' and 'Them,' Lesley Roessing does a masterful job of laying the foundation for teachers to use the stories in her book to inspire their own creativity in their classrooms to capture, inspire, and teach students who are unlike any generation before them. An easy read, with a powerful message of collaboration at its best, every teacher should read this book. It will motivate even the mediocre teacher to feel empowered to give more, listen more, and, more importantly, deliver more. (Stephen G. Peters, best-selling author of " Do You Know Enough About Me To Teach Me" and "Teaching to Capture and Inspire All Learners")

The research and literature is very clear that effective middle level schools create a personalized school environment by building connections with their students—and where better to start this endeavor than in the classroom? Roessing’s book not only shares the importance of building relationships between and among students, but gives practical, engaging strategies and activities that will appeal to young adolescents and help them learn to accept, value and respect both themselves and others. (Patti Kinney, associate director, Middle Level Services, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and 2006 president, Association for Middle Level Education (formerly National Middle School Association))

During a time of Common Core Standards and a 'teaching-to-the-test' mentality, Roessing reminds us that we have affective reasons to teach as well—the next generation must learn to respect and value differences or the world may actually cease to exist. Likewise, in a time when literature is being replaced by 'reading,' Roessing gives us a text that articulately shows why literature is important and how it should be used across the curriculum....This text puts the heart back into teaching. (Joan F. Kaywell, professor of English education, University of South Florida; senior executive director, Florida Council of Teachers of English, 2010-2011; membership secretary, Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of the National Council of Teachers of English; and author of Dear Author: Letters of Hope (NCSS Notable Book and 2007 VOYA Nonfiction Honor List))

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