Teacher's guide to In My Heart, I Am a Dancer
by Debora Kodish and Deborah Wei

book coverPhiladelphia Folklore Project and
Office of Curriculum Support, School District of Philadelphia

This publication was developed to help teachers and parents guide students in reading and thinking about the PFP publication In My Heart I am a Dancer. A product of the ongoing Asian Folk Arts Education Project, a collaborative effort coordinated by Wei and Kodish, this guide is also intended to be a tool for artists who want to raise questions about race, class, gender identity, stereotypes, and immigration issues in their work with students. We have used this book effectively with children in grades K-4,and also with older students. We invite and welcome your comments, feedback and responses at pfp@folkloreproject.org.

The Guide has three sections:

Part One - Notes to the teacher
This section includes background information on folk arts in the classroom, the purposes of the Asian Folk Arts Education Project, which launched this particular publication, and background information on the book itself. In addition, there is some background on the complex history of the Democratic Republic of Kampuchea (Cambodia). Sections are:

Part Two - Questions for students as they read the text
In this section, we provide a list of questions to raise with children, page by page, which may help to develop comprehension as they read the text. We also provide a list of vocabulary words for each page.

Part Three - Extension activities
This section provides suggestions for other activities which teachers/parents may want to do with their children to reinforce the concepts introduced in the text.

Lessons for children K-4 are:

  1. A letter from Chamroeun
    Handout: letter
  2. Folklore is another word for art
  3. What is a refugee?
    Handouts: Last minute leaving and My family memories
  4. Beads, beads, beads
    Handouts: medallion and pattern
  5. It's mathematical
    Handout: dance positions
  6. Gotta dance!
    Handouts: reading and pictures and diagrams
  7. You've got to have friends!
  8. Take a stand
    Handouts: Words can hurt too and Take a stand
  9. All the things you are

Additional lesson ideas

Activities for the older student are:

  1. My revival
    Handout: poem
  2. It's gonna take some funds

Acknowledgements: We are grateful for the support of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, Independence Foundation, School District of Philadelphia Office of Language Equity Issues, National Endowment for the Arts and the Samuel Fels Fund, for PFP Folk Arts and Multicultural Education programs.