We've been reading The Freedom Writier's' Diary for about a week or so now, and the kids are responding well. It's so accessible and relateable for them that there is plenty of time for real discussion, which is my highest priority. As I say, I'm anchoring our curriculum around the themes of nonviolence, tolerance and peace building. FWD of course is perfect for this, but I am bringing in a number of other role plays, speakers, news articles, poems, short stories that are centered around these themes.
Along those lines, we began class (after our daily free writing) with Martin Espada's "My Native Costume". It's a sharp, funny, sad and powerful poem all at once. With some guide questions to lay the mental groundwork (how does the narrator see himself? how does the teacher in the poem see him?), they readily connected this poem to the Freedom Writer's and our themes of the dangers of stereotypes. As they put it, all the teacher in the poem sees is the he's Puerto Rican.