KC Kids Unite Classroom Sneak Peak

We are entering our final week of accepting applications and we love to see them all coming in!  This week we’ll be offering our readers of daily dose of classroom “sneak peeks”.  The three-week classroom curriculum is led by an essential question centered around student identity.  Today, we see how students explore the first question, Where I’m From?  The video below does an excellent job launching this question in the minds of our students.


Because the issues being discussed through this work are universal and complex, developmentally appropriate videos and texts are used as entry point into our weekly discussions.  The Skin I’m In by Pat Thomas guides students to think about their nationality in connection to their ethnicity, and presents students with information to think about their race at a scientific and genealogical level.  Through this activity students come to recognize that each of us are connected to countries all over the world. Using this book as a mentor text students embark on research of their family history through websites and family interviews.

Check out the pictures below for in action shots!

Researching family history on familysearch.org

Results of students’ family research are posted on a world map, so each classroom can see the many places we have ALL come from!

Applications are being accepted now through October 5th.  You can apply at the following link: KC Kids Unite Application.  Apply now and share with your friends!


KC Kids Unite Has a New (Digital) Space


When one door closes another opens.

After much consideration, I have decided to let my blog, Paper and Passion, rest.  In all honestly, it’s been resting for a while, yet remained a constant in my head to return to it and I simply can’t find the time or energy.  It’s time to leave the weight of that constantly lingering expectation go.  But, this is not the end…

As I have posted on social media the last couple weeks, my passion project, KC Kids Unite, is getting more feet underneath it each year, and with our exciting new partnership with the Nelson-Atkins Museum we have much to share!  So, while Paper and Passion rests, the new KC Kids Unite blog awaits bright-eyed with energy and promise on the horizon!

So, what is KC Kids Unite?  Let me share!

  • KC Kids Unite is a community collaboration and celebration for school-aged children grades 2-6.
  • KC Kids Unite promotes community connectedness and youth activism to create bridges, not walls, through shared personal stories, art and literacy.
  • KC Kids Unite accepts 12 teachers annually across the Kansas City metro area to participate in this work with their students.
  • Participating classrooms partner with other urban and suburban classrooms across the city to engage in civic and community centered conversations through age appropriate literature, and develop art and original writing to share their story with others.
  • Participating teachers receive 12 hours of professional development focused toward KC’s unique racial history, culturally responsive teaching, 21st century collaboration, art literacy, student centered learning and engagement strategies, and project development with their partnering teacher.  For this work teachers receive a $75 stipend for their time.
  • Participating students and teachers join together in May for a city-wide art and writing celebration to be held at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.  This once in a lifetime field trip creates an opportunity for all participants to meet and student work to be shared across the city.  Student art will be showcased at the museum and student writing shared through our podcast (more on that in a later post) and the open-mic portion of our May writing celebration.

How do I get involved?

Applications are being accepted now through October 5th.  You can apply at the following link: KC Kids Unite Application.  Apply now and share with your friends!  We CANNOT WAIT to get this year started!  Check out the work below created from past students.  More to come!

bulletin board zoom inI am from bulletin boardpoem 2poem 4

The Day You Begin: Thoughts on Self + a New School Year

As most of the literacy world knows, Jacqueline Woodson just did what she always does, created a literary masterpiece for the ages.  The Day You Begin helps its readers embrace the moments we feel an other.  The moments we walk in a room or join a group, and find that despite the many gathered there we feel quite alone.

TDYB 1-2

TDYB 19-20

In those moments, we can let the crowd make us shrink and fall into silence, or we can immerse ourselves in it, raising our voices and ourselves to connect.  We can begin.

TDYB 21-22

TDYB 23-24TDYB 27-28

What transpires in the pages in between is

This is book is such a powerful one at the start of a new school year, because what transpires in the pages in between are the stories of so many of our students, and through their telling children and adults alike learn, become aware, and move forward with a greater understanding of humanity.

This book has taken on its own meaning for myself as well.  How will I begin in a new way this year?  In a sense, I already have.  This year I have had the great fortune of getting back into schools at the building level as a Title 1 Instructional Coach.  Being right next door to teachers and students has given me an energy I didn’t realize I’d been missing so desperately for the past 6 years.  The heartbeat of the school setting has pumped new and life-giving blood into my veins in a way that makes me feel I am starting my educational career anew. I am beginning.  And it has been all the things Woodson told me it would be–exhilarating, terrifying, uncertain.  Yet each day brings a new opportunity to share my story and truth with new people, and the connections are building far faster and deeper than I could have imagined.  It is in these moments I know the universe has placed me exactly where I supposed to be.

It is in this belief that I go forward with Woodson’s words on my heart.  The universe has its way of placing us where we can find purpose.  Sitting in silence negates the profoundness we can create in our everyday lives, for ourselves and others.  We need each other’s stories to begin.

As I take these words forward, I will consider each day where my opportunities exist to begin.  To start a new, bolder, more knowledgeable and empathetic version of self.  Our country needs it, our communities need it, our kids deserve it, and if we search deeply, our own hearts are thirsting for it.

Leaders in Education Must Be Leaders in Learning

Let’s begin.