Jenna Purdu, Grades 6-8, Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Wyandotte, MI
I found Chuck’s approach to this topic to be the exact approach I was hoping for. He broke Diversity down for my students and explained it simply as getting to know someone you didn’t know before. Learning things you have in common with other people can help make you a better person. After watching his video this month, 4 out of my 6 classes spent time interviewing each other. The students had to find someone in the classroom they don’t hang out with or really don’t know much about. This was extremely successful for many of the classes. I enjoyed watching students laugh and really connect with one another. The questions led many of the students to find commonalities with one another. Even students who wouldn’t ever consider a friendship were making connections.
Pictured above is one of my incredible co-teachers, Mrs. Trudell. We are working on a major project together this year for National Geographic. Our topic is migration. The topic in and of itself revolves around diversity and this idea of welcoming and including others. Also, for many the topic might also mean closing doors, and not being accepting of others or having strong opinions and feelings related to migration. This will definitely be a project that pushes students to think differently. We are only in the beginning phase known as Ask.
In two of my ELA classes, my co-teacher Kelly Rutkowski and I, set up different lessons where students were working in groups but not of their choice. This gave them the chance to get to know their classmates and start to make connections with each other. We did this partner technique while the students were doing a web quest learning more about Edgar Allan Poe and again when they were preparing their writing for their scary stories.
Every single day as a teacher, you get these small moments that remind you why you come to work. One of these moments happened during 1st hour this month. A really incredibly creative young lady raised her hand after listening to another student share her scary story aloud. With such excitement and honesty she gave the student raving reviews and compliments on her story. This positive feedback and a passion for writing connected these two young ladies. Here these two young ladies have many factors making them “different”, yet the power of writing was able to connect them.
In my two Transition ELA classes, the students wanted to have a way of sharing their voice as a project for this month’s topic. They said beyond interviewing each other that there are things they wished people knew that aren’t always comfortable to tell them face to face. After this discussion with the students, the wheels in my head started spinning. I asked them if they wanted to create a video called, “I Wish People Knew”. The students were nervous to share such sensitive items but it was empowering to watch them feel relief just getting the words out and being able to share what information they think keeps others from accepting them or treating them with kindness.