Addressing Sensitive Topics
EL Education thoughtfully reviews topics and texts when developing our curriculum. We choose texts based on their level of complexity, alignment to the standards, and, most importantly, the depth of student engagement. Learning during the time of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic means teachers will need to provide support remotely, and in some instances may not be able to provide the depth of support necessary to address emotionally challenging content.
Please review the following topics in the EL Education Language Arts curriculum to make sure students, families, and teachers are prepared during distance learning. Remote learning reading guides can be accessed on our Remote Learning Support page.
The Hope Chest (Grade 4, Module 4):
The Hope Chest contains a section in Chapter 1 in which the death of a character's friend during the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic two years earlier is described. The character's sister also talks in a series of letters about being a nurse to flu patients during the pandemic. The pandemic is not central to the plot and is only mentioned three times in the remainder of the book. The Hope Chest is a fast-paced and action-packed historical fiction about women advocating for their right to vote. A key argument in that fight was the contribution of women as medical professionals during times of need like the 1918 pandemic.
Students have always engaged deeply in this text, however, we are aware that the sections around influenza may be received differently during this time of global health concerns related to COVID-19. Students do not need to read Chapter 1 (or the brief historical summary of the pandemic at the end of the book) in order to understand the rest of the story or participate fully in the learning of the module. If teachers feel comfortable skipping Chapter 1 or summarizing this chapter for their students, the remainder of the novel can be used to engage with the topic and practice the literary standards as intended. We have created guidance in the reading guide for this book.
If teachers do not feel comfortable using the novel, the topic of Responding to Inequality: Ratifying the 19th Amendment can be presented using the informational texts included in the module. Review our guide to preparing to teach here.
- Omnivore's Dilemma (Grade 8, Module 4):
This is a fascinating exploration of food systems and what Americans choose to eat. Students may have concerns about current events and potential impact on food production and distribution in America.
- Eight Days: A Story of Haiti (Grade 5, Module 4):
This is an uplifting story centered around the aftermath of an earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Students will also engage in modified research about two types of natural disasters. During this time they will be exposed to the idea of creating a "disaster preparedness kit." Be aware that some students who have either experienced a natural disaster or who have family members who have experienced one, may connect with this topic personally and deeply. Students may also have concerns, or strong connections to preparing for such a disaster. These connections may be especially strong in the context of the current crisis, which can bring up memories of previous experiences of disruption or hardship.
Racism and Xenophobia
Teachers may want to proactively address current events and racist or xenophobic attacks against Asian Americans when teaching:
- Peter Pan (Grade 3, Module 3)
- Promises To Keep (Grade 5, Module 3)
- Dragonwings (Grade 6, Module 3A)
- Two Roads (Grade 6, Module 3, Second Edition)
- Unbroken (Grade 8, Module 3A)
- Farewell to Manzanar (Grade 8, Module 4, Second Edition)