Stay in the Mix for Valentine's Day
The origins of the Valentine's Day holiday are actually rooted in resisting injustice! In this lesson, students read two stories from other students, each one addressing injustices they stood up against on Valentine's Day. Learn more here.
Stay in the Mix During National Poetry Month!
Poetry is a great way to engage others in dialogue and to communicate the power of crossing boundaries. Using two poems written by students, you can use this lesson to explore themes of exclusion and empathy. You can then follow that up by having students write poems of their own. Learn more here.
Help students explore their membership to their school community and brainstorm steps they can take to remove social barriers.
Essential Question: How can we help everyone in our community feel included?
- Form small groups of students. Ask students to identify one conflict or issue at the school and to brainstorm how they would address it.
- Next, have students write short (2 minute) skits dramatizing the issue and demonstrating how they would implement their solution. Once the skits have been written and rehearsed, students will perform them for the class.
- Finally, have students create action plans for turning their visions into reality.
Discuss the idea that identity can be internal, like values or interests, or external, such as clothes and appearance.
Essential Question: What do we mean when we talk about “identity”?
- In writing, ask students to reflect on how their identities might influence who they choose to sit with at lunch. Is it easier or harder to sit with classmates whose identities are different? The same? Then have students share their answers with a partner.
- Mark a circle on the floor in the middle of the room, large enough for all students to be able to fit inside of at the same time. Ask students to enter the circle if they answer “yes” to questions such as:
- if you have black hair
- if you like pizza
- if you speak more than one language
- End by asking students to come into the circle if they are in [your name]’s class. Everyone will end up together in the circle.
- Ask students what they think could be learned (or was learned) from sitting with classmates who have identities different from theirs.
Interviewing a Classmate
- What do I already know about my classmate?
- What do I want to know about my classmate?
- Have students copy down open-ended questions. Set the expectation that no one has to answer a question that is too personal or that they don’t feel comfortable answering. Provide an example and some “question words” like:
- Ask students to pair off with someone they do not know well. Have students use their list of questions to interview their partner and learn more about them. Make sure students take turns asking questions and practice listening carefully.
- Next, ask students to share out a few positive things about their partner that they learned. They can answer questions such as:
- “How are they unique?”
- “How are they different from you?”
- “How are they similar to you?”
- Finally, lead students in a group reflection about their interview experience.
Photograph by Roark Johnson