Understanding Difference and Building Solidarity

A story from Day Five of Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools

By Mary Hart

In my fifth grade classroom at Rockview Elementary School (MCPS), we spent the majority of the reading block during the Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools reading and analyzing poems by Langston Hughes. We looked at the way he used figurative language to speak to his people and give hope. We also looked at the messages about the oppression he faced and we discussed ways people are still oppressed today.

We used the story about George Moses Horton to explore the idea of perseverance and courage and then the students wrote about what freedom means to them--using figurative language.

Since our week was cut short with weather and testing, I continued the lessons the following week (February 12-16) and will do so throughout the year. During the week of February 12-16, we continued with the theme of solidarity by acting out the play “Frogs and Snakes” and discussed ways we can stay in solidarity even when there are forces trying to divide us. The students talked about times when they, or others, have been told to avoid someone based on race, gender, nationality, language, ability, or sexuality.

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The students created puzzles of their beautiful differences and then went around and added compliments to each other's puzzles.

Finally, the students are reading poems by Pat Mora that speak to my Latinx students and also have the theme of separation.

My students are exploring point of view and how who is telling the story or writing the history affects how the story is told.


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WeeklongMykella Palmer