In October 2016, I self-published the second edition of The Classroom Index—a 224-page racial literacy textbook with a sponsorship from the Princeton University Department of African American Studies and the Princeton Education Foundation, selling 500 copies to 15 states nationwide. The Classroom Index is, foremost, a rich collection of stories from across the nation, aimed at sparking dialogue about race in classrooms. For the teacher, The Classroom Index greatly simplifies the often daunting task of initiating meaningful conversations about race. The textbook has a collection of interviews, combined with the discussion points, that connect a modern context to any historical event, increase participation and interest, and spark compassion as individuals put a topic or event to a real face and story.
Each story in the textbook consists of an interview, a photograph of the interviewee, and discussion points that support, refute, or qualify the story with historical or contemporary events and research. The list of tags and corresponding stories makes it simple to choose content relevant to the themes of an educator’s existing lesson plan. Furthermore, stories are color-coded to indicate appropriate age and grade levels—including elementary, middle, and high school.
To use this historical/sociological toolkit, first, the teacher picks out a tag related to her lesson plan from the index in the beginning of the textbook. Next, she flips to the corresponding page number next to the tag where a related interview awaits. Not only is finding the interview a speedy process, using it also does not take time away from the teacher’s lesson plan. Since the interview is linked to the lesson plan by theme, it is meant to act as a supplement by simply adding on to the subject at hand. Therefore, the teacher can teach about race while staying on topic with the curriculum.
My dream is to make The Classroom Index the leading K-12 social-justice education tool in classrooms nationwide.
Funded by Awesome Without Borders (October 2017)