DEI in Your Classroom

Ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion in your classroom can feel like an impossible task especially during these already overwhelming times. But as Elaine Su, an independent DEI consultant working with Pearson, explains, DEI review isn’t a one-time event where you audit all your books and classroom materials. “It’s not simply about doing an audit. It’s about ongoing education and commitment to learning so you can identify a problem when you see it,” explains Su.

Resources To Help

So how do you begin (or expand) your DEI education? Su recommends starting or sustaining your own learning with the following resources and then slowly incorporating what you learn into your classroom’s books, posters, discussions, lessons, and more.

Begin With Books

Looking at your library and thinking deeply about what students are reading is a great place to begin your DEI journey. While there are many things to consider, the following tips can help as you start.

  • Watch for and learn about problematic tropes (around age, weight, disability, and more) 
  • Include racialized, queer, disabled, and other traditionally marginalized authors. 
  • Watch for stereotypes and other issues in illustrations. 
  • Add stories that reflect diverse lived experiences, cultures, countries, races, genders, ethnicities.
 

PD Is the Key

Su suggests teachers take small, consistent steps forward to avoid feeling overwhelmed. “Prioritize your own PD and development to become aware, and the rest will come.”

 

Feature Highlight!
Use Spark’s Presentation Tools to Keep Focus on your Lessons

Did you know that with Spark’s Presentation Tools, you can use Spark books for more than independent reading? Project or share your screen and use arrows, text boxes, a spotlight, a highlighter, and other tools to focus on parts of a book, vocabulary, artwork, etc. (whatever works for your lessons). 

These tools are only available to teachers and can be used with your entire class or small groups to enhance shared reading, book previews, guided reading, and more. And here’s a helpful bonus: whether you are in the classroom or virtual, you can use the tools in the same way without changing your teaching practice!

Try using Presentation Tools with your students. This quick how-to video can help you get started.

*Teacher Tip: You’ll need to close the presentation tools to turn the page in a book.

 

12 New DEI Titles Coming This Spring!

As DEI reviewer Elaine Su mentions above, books are a great way to include diverse perspectives and cultures in your classroom. To help share diverse Canadian stories, we’re adding 12 new DEI titles to Spark Reading this spring.

Written By, About, and For Canadians

These DEI stories focus on uniquely Canadian topics, including the Black community's rich history in Nova Scotia, Canadian families, Muslims in Canada, Chinatowns across the country, and more (as you’ll see below.) These books are written by well-known and up-and-coming Canadian authors such as Marty Chan, Randy Boyagoda, and Barbara Yebuga!

Here’s a sneak peek at the book list and the stories they’ll bring to your classroom.

 
  • Grade 1
  • Grade 2
  • Grade 3
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
  • Grade 6

Grade 1

How Steelpan Came to Canada
Donna Guerra
Learn about the invention of steelpan in Trinidad and how this musical instrument came to Canada.

Our Families, Our Homes
Alicia Kibwaa, Anthony King, Gary R. Williams
A book highlighting three children from three different families—one from Alberta, one from Ontario, and one from Nova Scotia.

Grade 2

Around Kensington Market
Randy Boyagoda
About Toronto's Kensington Market and highlighting other markets around Canada.

Canadian Hockey Stars
Nastassia Subban
A celebration of Canadian female and male hockey stars (all of whom happen to be Black) and the great work they do on and off the ice.

Grade 3

Amazing Jobs in STEAM
Jennifer Ladipo
This book highlights four scientists and describes their amazing jobs. (These scientists also happen to be women.)

Welcome to Paldi: A Place for Everyone
Harman Singh Pandher
A girl learns from her grandparents about Paldi, BC, a small town founded by Mayo Singh, a Sikh lumber mill owner.

Grade 4

Trailblazers in Canada
Barbara Yebuga
Brief biographies on four incredible historical Canadian trailblazers—Lucie and Thornton Blackburn, Mifflin Gibbs, and Violet King (all of whom happen to be Black).

YOU Can Make a Movie
Nilufer Rahman
Tips for kids on how to make a movie by Muslim Canadian filmmaker Nilufer Ruhman.

Grade 5

Muslims in Canada
Rukhsana Khan
Part history book about the history of Muslims in Canada; part celebration of the positive impact of many Canadian Muslims; and part memoir about the author's life as a Muslim kid growing up in Canada.

The Dream and Beyond: My Story
Jason Faulknor
A memoir about a man whose dreams of playing professional basketball in the NBA didn't pan out, but he learned that was okay after having an incredible career playing professional basketball around the world and starting a clothing company called "Spread Love."

Grade 6

A Tour of Chinatown
Marty Chan
A young boy takes his friend on a tour of Chinatown, explaining some key features.

I'm from Nova Scotia: Exploring My Black Heritage
Andrea Noylander-Marsman and Ahnaleigh Simmonds
Co-written by a grandmother and her granddaughter—this book celebrates the long history of the Black community in Nova Scotia and the accomplishments of famous Black Nova Scotians from the past and present.

 
 

BOOK SPOTLIGHT
Canadian Content

Did you know Spark is full of Canadian content? Here are some examples of the high-quality books you’ll find in Spark that focus on Canadian stories or are written by Canadian authors.


Annick Classics

We have partnered with Annick Press to offer great Canadian trade books including classic Robert Munsch titles and the award-winning Not My Girl.

Search “ANNICK” in Spark to see all Annick titles available.

Well Aware

Grades 4-8

The Well Aware series shares important positive mental health information and strategies through powerful literature and nonfiction texts.

Search “WELL AWARE” in Spark to view all titles in this series.


Celebrate Canada

Grades 1-3

The Celebrate Canada series includes 30 titles for grades K-3 that explore the geography, peoples, and perspectives that make Canada what it is.

Search “CELEBRATE CANADA” in Spark to view all titles in this series.

Mathology Little Books

Grades K-3

Mathology Little Books is a series of little books for K-3 providing rich opportunities for math teaching and learning.

Search “MATHOLOGY” in Spark to view the titles in this series.