Connecting Dots and Giving Back
I wasn’t sleeping anyway, so I thought I would write the history of the world. This is what happened to me after my son, Ben, was diagnosed with brain cancer in the spring of 2011.
He was only 18 months old at the time. Even though the surgical resection of his tumor had been complete and even though I knew he was receiving the finest cancer treatment in the world, my ability to rest for more than a few hours at a time left me.
Parents of sick kids know what I mean.
Intellectually, what I wanted to do was to develop a “history of the world” that was written in a format that included what we know about how students learn. (Textbooks, for some reason, are not.) I wanted my students to see connections and patterns, and learn how to read, analyze, and write better.
Emotionally, I wanted more than that. I wanted to find an outlet for my anxiety and to try and put the same effort into educating my students that I had just seen the staff at Riley put into saving their patients.
I will never do anything as important as save a child from cancer, but I can try to do my job as well as the staff at Riley does theirs.
The result of this work was a five-volume series called “Connecting the Dots in World History: A Teacher’s Literacy Based Curriculum” (Rowman and Littlefield Education, 2015). My students read it in class and the curriculum is designed to improve student achievement over a full 180 days.
It seemed fitting to donate my royalties to the Dance Marathon at the high school where I teach. The dedication to volume five reads “For the wonderful people at Riley Hospital for Children; it is an honor to give my life’s work to those who give life to so many children.”
It is a small contribution. Maybe one day I will be able to add a chapter to the final volume that will detail how childhood cancers were eradicated. Then we can all rest.
If you would like to make a gift to Riley this holiday season and make double the impact on kids, click here. Gifts made through The Gift of Hope Happens Here campaign by midnight on December 31, 2015, will be matched by French Lick Resort.
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