Reading comprehension article handout (differentiated Gr 5, 7, 9, 11) about COLLABORATION and how diverse leadership can help.

Annamie Paul was the first Black person to be the leader of a federal political party in Canada. She won the leadership race for the Green Party of Canada in October 2020.   

The take-away message is that collaboration happens when you have a group of people working together towards a common goal or objective, and they create something new:

  • it could be a new solution to a problem,
  • a new understanding of an issue, or
  • a new plan to reach a goal.

But the key is that the answer can’t be already known – it is created by the group collaborating together. (If the answer is already known by the leader and they’re simply “guiding” people to the answer, then this is probably an example of coordination and not collaboration.)

Real collaboration is where everyone’s input has a real chance in shaping the answer. Any group member’s idea might add to the key that helps unlock the puzzle. So, in this case, having a diverse point of view gives us more chances to create something very new.

Differentiated Reading Text - Green Leader says it shouldn't have taken this long: SEL: Collaboration

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This article goes well with the FINDING THE MAIN IDEA reading strategy.

Green Leader Says It Shouldn’t Have Taken This Long – Collaboration

On October 3, 2020, Annamie Paul made history in Canada.  Members of the Green Party elected her to be their new leader. She is the first Black person and the first Jewish woman to be the leader of a federal political party.

Annamie did a radio interview. “We need to do better because I shouldn’t represent so many firsts in 2020,” she said. Hopefully, this will make it easier for others to follow in her footsteps.

“Symbolically, you know, I received calls from all over the country and text messages from people saying what a difference it made for them in terms of possibilities that they see for themselves and their children in politics.”

The Green Party posted on YouTube. The video was about the new leader. One scene was from a Black Lives Matter protest. The next scene showed people wearing face masks for Covid 19. Annamie talks in the video. “How are we going to build into the system, the kind of collaboration and cooperation that helped us avoid the worst during this crisis?” She also says “we can’t let the people down because we need to be in the room on their behalf.“

The Green Party focuses on non-violence, sustainability, and social justice. They also stand for ecological wisdom, participatory democracy, and respect for diversity. Right now, they have 3 people elected in the federal government. (There are 338 elected officials in total.) These elected people vote on laws. Their decisions affect all Canadians.

Annamie did a TV interview. She talked about having an impact. “From a policy perspective, having diverse leadership helps to create better public policies. So, this is just a huge win for people in Canada every time that it happens.”

The Green Party started looking for a leader in November 2019. Elizabeth May was the old leader but she stepped down. Jo-Ann Roberts became a temporary leader for a short time. Members in the party would need to choose a new leader. The Green Party held their 2020 leadership election online. People who were members of the party could vote between Sep 26 to Oct 3, 2020. There were 8 people to vote for.

The Green Party held virtual meetings. These online town halls gave members a chance to ask questions.

Annamie received verbal abuse for being Black and for being Jewish. One example was in July 2020. There was an online meeting with a public chat where people could type. Someone said racist and anti-Semitic things against Annamie. There were also anti-Semitic things said towards Meryam Haddad. Meryam was another person who wanted to be leader.

The moderator kicked the offensive person out of the Zoom meeting. They also got rid of their comments. All of the people running for leader spoke out against the inappropriate comments. The Green Party looked into what happened. They said they would kick the person out of the party. This was hard because the person used fake ID to get into the meeting. It’s not clear if they are Green Party members.

Annamie sent out a tweet. “As a Black Jewish candidate, I’ve been subject to months of anti-Semitic & racist attacks. Party silence emboldened hate. It ends when I win.”

Now, the Green Party leadership race is over. Annamie is the new leader. Who knows how things will change in the Green party or in Canada.

Collaboration Mini-Lesson

Collaboration is when a group of people work together to create something new. It can be a new solution to a problem, a new plan to reach a goal or a new understanding of a concept. In real collaboration, the solution isn’t already known to the group – it’s created by the group through discussion. It’s also important that anyone’s ideas could hold the key to unlocking the task.  

Just because you’re working in a group doesn’t mean you’re collaborating. You might be coordinating or cooperating instead.

  • If someone in the group is telling people what to do or guiding them to the “correct” answer, then this teamwork style is probably coordination. For example, a class discussion where the teacher is guiding students to the expected answer.
  • If people in the group are sharing resources but they each focus on their own part, then this is probably cooperation. For example, students in a group share answers or resources (textbook), but really everyone is just trying to finish their own worksheet.

Look at the photo below. Is this group of people collaborating, coordinating, or cooperating? Use clues from the image to answer the following guiding questions.

  1. What makes this group of people a team? How did these people happen to be together at this moment of time? Do they have a shared goal or common objective?
  2. How are these people organized? Are they organized randomly or does seating and location matter? Why did they choose to be where they are? 
  3. How does this group make decisions? Who decides which questions to ask or which ideas to discuss? Do some people get to share ideas more than others?

Who is in “charge” or “responsible” to get the job done? Is the answer already decided before the team meets? Who has the final say and does that ever change?

Reading Comprehension Questions

Based on the article and the Collaboration mini-lesson, how would you answer the following questions:  

  1. Why does Annamie Paul becoming leader of the Green Party of Canada make a difference for some people?
  2. Do people from different cultures, genders, or lived experiences have very different points of view?
  3. Do different points of view help collaboration or get in the way?
  4. What does diverse leadership mean? How might having diverse leadership help create better laws?
  5. Annamie Paul says, “we can’t let the people down because we need to be in the room on their behalf.” Is she in a position where she can make a real impact?
  6. The new leader of the Green Party also says having diverse leadership is “a huge win for people in Canada every time that it happens” Do you think it is a huge win, a minor win, or not really a win at all? Why do you think that?

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