In our February webinar, two of our teacher consultants Ana Contreras (@AnaContrerasENG) of Harper College and Angela Berent (@a_berent) of Grass Lake Public Schools presented an experience they had sharing diverse texts and doing social justice units in their classroom. Both teachers were inspired by reading Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain by Zarretta Hammond and discussed how they used “The Danger of A Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in their classroom.
Both teachers used Adichie’s TED Talk to discuss race, culture, and identify. Ana and Angela had their students collaborate and did a shared discussion using Flipgrid with their two classrooms. Angela teaches 8th grade and Ana teaches community college. Both teachers discussed the enjoyment they had working with each other and how much it pushed them to further develop their unit. Ana and Angela also discussed the engagement and growth they saw from their students during this project.
Ana and Angela shared about the pre-work they had done for this unit in order to respect student privacy, gain parent permissions, and teach digital citizenship for this project. An additional, intentional choice both teachers had in place was that they previewed all student videos before they became live, using moderation features on Flipgrid. Both educators discussed the importance of this work for allowing both sets of their students to have a real and authentic audience using technology.
They also discussed the importance of allowing students to guide the discussion and giving open-ended questions, as well as choice who they talked to. Ana’s college students could choose to talk to one of their classmates, or an 8th grader. Both educators remarked about how eye-opening this was to bring new voices and ideas in their classroom. Angela’s students were encouraged to see they were learning some of the things that people in college were, too, and to see more diversity. Moreover, Ana’s students were thrilled to get the chance to discuss and learn from the experiences of younger students as well as to mentor them.
Finally, Ana and Angela discussed reflections and ideas for future attempts at doing this unit. They want to do this type of unit again, and there were insights that they shared with us for educators who are considering doing something similar in their own classroom. They shared the joy of a collaborative process, the value of involving your administration in the process, and the importance of careful and intentional planning. They also shared the idea that though this is difficult at times it’s an important and necessary work.
Here are the slides that Angela and Ana shared with us about their collaborative work.
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