Oftentimes, we receive great resources from schools. Here is a plan developed by two teachers at St. Columbkille Partnership School in Brighton, MA.
Created by Margaret Betts (Grade 2) and Anne Krane (PreK), St. Columbkille Partnership School, Brighton, MA
Violence in schools and in neighborhoods in our country has been a constant conversation, and we have been looking for something we can do to help teachers, families, and students feel a little less helpless and a little more empowered. This can be especially challenging in the early childhood, elementary, and middle school levels. We want our schools to feel safe. This plan centers around a prayer service planned for March 14th of this year. Our hope is that this plan would minimally interrupt the routine, meet students at an appropriate level and still have a positive impact on our community. Early childhood would focus on peace as a self management skill, elementary ages would focus on peace and activism, and middle school would focus on peace and nonviolence.
The plan in its entirety can be found here, but there are four major parts to the St. Columbkille Peace Plan!
All grades: Pieces of Peace - Students will each be given a large puzzle piece to take home over the weekend. These will be filled out by families and returned to school the following Monday and Tuesday. Along with the puzzle pieces will be a description of the events and activities leading to Wednesday, March 14th, so families are informed. These peace pieces will be collected and formed into large peace sign posters to be hung on each level of the school. (We will send this template to you when it is ready!)
All grades: Peace Project - Each grade will do one short activity that focuses around peace on Monday 3/12 or Tuesday 3/13 in their classrooms. It could be a book, a short movie clip, a writing project, a prayer. A few ideas are provided to give inspiration, but if you need more help or a more concrete plan, please let us know and we are happy to help out!
All grades, staff, families, friends of school: Posts for Peace - All will be invited to participate in posting pictures, videos, photos, poems, quotes, songs etc. on our social media, or their own social media on 3/14. Using the hashtag #stcps4peace and #postsforpeace . Anyone is invited to post something that they feel will inspire others towards peace. (How do you work, sing, share, inspire for peace?)
All grades: Peace Prayer Service - Students will participate in a 17 minute long prayer service on March 14th at 10 AM.
In the spirit of Catholic community building and collaboration within the Archdiocese of Boston, we've attached the full plan here in hopes that you may share it with other schools whose teachers may be looking for a resource or a way to address the violence with a Catholic foundation at the early childhood, elementary, and middle school levels.
Today's resource (hat-tip to the CSO's Livia Ramos for bringing this one to light): an article on the importance of empathy in the classroom. Especially in light of recent tragedies, this is the perfect time during this Lenten season to recenter ourselves and focus on empathy with our students. One key quotation from this article: "There is no paint-by-number approach to developing and practicing empathy as a basis for living, working, and decision making in our varied schools. Still, there are outcomes that we might expect as focus shifts. Among other expectations, it is reasonable to assume that understanding, appreciating, and addressing people's feelings, needs, and perspectives could lead to more opportunities for teachers to share successes and concerns with colleagues and leaders; more collaborative relationships between teachers and parents; greater student voice; fewer incidences of bullying; and a curriculum and instructional style that foster a love for learning." I would add, our Catholic mission and educational vocation calls us to engage in this kind of empathy with our students every day.
Here is a link to resources posted on NCEA's website to help schools better prepare and integrate Black History Month into their schools during this important month. They provide a wide range of resources that you can access and use, including information about a session at the upcoming NCEA conference if you plan to attend.
Here are a series of links to resources that will help us fill our classroom libraries with rich, relevant texts appropriate for younger/elementary school readers. These texts can help us recognize and celebrate the contributions of the African American community to this country. First, a Black History Month book list from Scholastic. In addition, here's a set of stories on Storyline Online read by well-known actors (make sure to look for the Black History Month specific videos).
Check out this link to the PBS POV ("Point of View") website devoted to films relevant for Black History Month. Each film contains a viewing guide and lesson plans appropriate for middle school and high school students. If you are an English Language Arts, Humanities, Social Studies, or Homeroom teacher at the middle or high school level looking for ways to engage your students during Black History Month, these documentaries and films may be a great resources for you.
Here's a link to a lesson plan on exploring what counts as history, an important theme for later elementary and middle school students to consider during Black History Month. This resource comes from the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance website, a great source for culturally relevant pedagogy and classroom resources that can help to disrupt negative assumptions and beliefs about race and ethnicity.
Throughout this month, the news and resources links I'll post will be exclusively focused on Black History Month. Here is a link to an explanatory post from an educator with the Facing History and Ourselves organization describing the importance of fully integrating Black History Month into our curricula. She asks a very important question related to Black History Month: "How do you break the norm - in the classroom or in your own life - when you face history?" This post also includes several links to resources from the Facing History and Ourselves site that can help teachers engage more thoughtfully during this important month of recognition.
What teacher hasn't tried to figure out ways to conserve time with mountains of student learning to assess? Here's a list of strategies from Dr. Jade Caines Lee (sent over to me by our Director of Data Annie Cervin) that may provide you with some ideas about how to rethink the way you spend time during grading/assessment. What I like most about this post is that these strategies connect to our common sense: focus on what is most important in grading an assignment in order to emphasize the student learning that is occurring.
Here's a recently posted article from the "Shanahan on Literacy" blog about what to do when going through the "growing pains" of a new literacy series. Several of our schools have considered or recently adopted new literacy programs. This question-and-answer post will help you consider some questions related to the tensions between whole group and small group literacy instruction, as well as what it takes to find balance and manage the change of adopting a new literacy program.
As I've been traveling around the Archdiocese, people have heard me talk about the need for more high quality and authentic learning opportunities for students in our schools. This post, from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, provides four practical examples for elementary and secondary cross-disciplinary performance assessments that you could use today. For more information on quality performance assessment in general, check out the Center for Collaborative Education's website here.
News and Resources
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