Activities will help students:
- understand that no racial group is superior to any other
- synthesize a variety of ways for understanding the importance of tolerance
- appreciate the importance of reflecting on past work
- see the development in their own and others’ thinking over time
- apply knowledge and understandings gained to considering their role as activists in their school, home and community
- What does it mean to reflect on our learning? Why is reflection important?
- What problems can we identify in how some people talk about race and racial identity?
- How has our thinking about skin color, race, racial identity and beauty changed, developed or deepened throughout the series?
- What new ways have we learned to be more tolerant and accepting of people who are different from ourselves?
- How can we apply our newer, deeper ways of thinking to work toward change in our schools, homes and communities?
- student work from the series (e.g., collectively made charts or posters, independent notebooks/journals and individual work)
- depending on the norms of celebration at your school, decorations, refreshments, invitations for families, etc. (optional)
After working with difficult and complex themes in this series, it is essential for students to reflect on the knowledge they have gained. It is also important for students to value the artistic and literary works they have created and acknowledge how their thinking has changed over time.
In this lesson, students will think about what they have learned throughout the series. They will brainstorm ways they can put their new and deeper understanding of race, racial identity and beauty to positive use in their community.
Reflection is an important aspect of any kind of learning. By helping students to consolidate newly acquired knowledge and insights, teachers can ignite and accelerate young people’s ability to think critically about a range of social issues. Some resources for helping students with metacognitive awareness and growth are Reflection for Learning and the overview of Reflection available on infed (the informal education homepage and encyclopaedia of informal education).
Finally, this lesson challenges children to take on roles as activists. A particularly useful book on the topic is Do Something: A Handbook for Young Activists, by Nancy Lublin (with Vanessa Martir and Julia Steers), and its accompanying website, Do Something.
reflection [ rih-FLEK-shuhn ] (noun) insightful thoughts on something; a careful reconsideration of experiences
value [ VAL-yoo ] (noun) an idea that holds great worth to you, or the worth that you attribute to an object, a relationship or a cause
celebration [ sel-uh-BREY-shuhn ] (noun) festivities to mark a special event or occasion; to congratulate oneself or others
activism [ AK-tuh-viz-uhm ] (noun) engaging in work toward the achievement of a particular goal, often of a political or social nature
Ask students what they have learned from listening to their classmates’ reflections.
- Remind students of the work they have done over the course of this series. In their journals, have them sketch a picture or write a paragraph about race, racial identity and beauty. If they need help getting started, use one or more of these prompts:
- What are some of the ideas my class helped me understand about race, identity or beauty? How can I use my new understandings to challenge others to rethink their ideas about race, racial identity and beauty?
- What are some of the ways that these activities—looking closely at myself, writing poetry, examining picture book illustrations, making a self-portrait and talking to my peers—helped me see myself, my skin and my race as beautiful?
- What piece of work from this unit makes me feel the most pride? Why?
- What was the most challenging part of this series? Why?
- Now, explain that it is time to look back over the work everyone did as a class and take pride in what was accomplished. Talk about why it is important to value and celebrate the work that students completed as a class. Discuss some guidelines for making sure a celebration runs smoothly. (Note: If you do not have a protocol for end-of-unit celebrations, you will want to chart a list for your class. The list might include appropriate behavior during an exciting time, strategies for making guests feel welcome in the classroom and reminders about how to comment respectfully on someone else’s work.)
- Have students prepare displays of the work they did over the course of the series. Encourage children to spend some time circulating around the room, either independently or with partners, looking at their own and others’ work. If there are guests present for the celebration, let children showcase their work using whatever method makes most sense.
- After everyone has had a chance to look at their classmates’ work, come together in a circle as a group. (Note: You can decide whether to include guests.) Go around the circle and have each child choose and comment positively on another child’s work. Comments should stress one especially impressive aspect of the chosen work. Then go around the circle once more and ask the students to share one thing about changes in their own work or thinking that gives them particular satisfaction. This is a celebration, but also a reflection.
- Ask students to think about one way they wish they could positively change the thinking of others in their school, home or community about race, racial identity and beauty. Brainstorm and chart a list of changes they wish they could make. Once you have a list, let children work with a partner or in a small group to write a letter or create a poster for the person or people they hope to influence. Explain that learning about issues like these often leads to activism. Define the term if it is unfamiliar. Activism is hard work toward making a change. It cannot be accomplished in one small step, but it has to start somewhere. If your students are inspired to keep working with these issues, have them write lists in their journals, or make a list collectively as a class, of other ways the students think they can work toward change.
Now that you have come to the end of this series, choose 10 to 20 key vocabulary words for concepts that have been part of this series. Write the words in your language journal or notebook. Write a sentence to help you remember each word; then, challenge yourself to include this vocabulary in the poster or letter you create in Step 5.
Reflective thinking around important and challenging issues often leads to activism, which can take a lot of time and energy. Form working groups in your classroom around the ideas for creating change that you brainstormed in Step 4. Set aside one or two periods a week to work on these projects over the course of the year. For instance, maybe you want to create your own picture book with a positive impact on racial identity. Perhaps you can write letters to people who you feel use oversimplifying racial labels, or start a poster campaign in your school or neighborhood. Get creative—the possibilities are endless. Build in time for community meetings and reflections to report on how the work is going. Put your thoughts and hard work into action!