One of the primary objectives for the KC Kids Unite project is to break down stereotypes by celebrating community and self in its many layers. During week 2 students took the information they had gathered from their family history research to creatively express their amazingly unique individuality.
The text, The Best Part of Me by Wendy Ewald, inspired these third graders to examine the idea of beauty and in what ways society attempts to define it for us. Creating their own definition of beauty, students wrote about the best part of it them and how it defines their new standard of beauty. Students apply this same idea to their community, going out into the world to see the beauty surrounding us in our neighborhood, community, and world that of too often overlooked.
Georgia Ella Lyon’s classic poem, “Where I’m From” serves as a mentor text for students to mirror that same work in light of what they have learned about their family history from the previous week. Students share this work with their partner classrooms from another school to help them know and understand each other better before they meet for the May city-wide writing celebration. Kids are amazing, and each year, through this work I am awed by the writing produced. I hope this strong sense of self takes them far and serves as a foundation to grow upon.
There are so many texts that explore skin shade and color for elementary students. Three of our favorites are the Colors of Us by Karen Katz, The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler and Shades of People by Shelley Rotner. These texts lead students on an exploration of their unique skin tone. In partnership with our art teachers, students learn that all skin tones are made from the same three colors–red, yellow, and blue. They then use black and white to shade appropriately, and use this new paint color they have created to draw a self portrait. Some teachers connect this to the Best Part of Me work and have students paint the feature they highlighted in that writing.
Check out this 4th grade Flip Grid and listen to students talk about finding their skin tone through paint mixing! Just click on the picture below and it will take you to their 90 second video clips displaying their work!
Next week the participating students will finally meet for their writing celebration of community focused on the theme–Where I’m Going! Stay tuned! These kids are changing our city and the world in which we live. I can’t wait to share their work!