The third and final week of the curriculum asks students to envision “Where they’re going?” with a focus toward activism. Using the text, Courage of the Blue Boy, students consider the impact of environment on our existence and behavior within a broader global society. After reading the text, students create a neighborhood map complete with street names, landmarks, neighbors’ houses, memories and meaningful spaces that make their neighborhood unique. They highlight each place by “zooming in” on them through artistic and/or literary means. Students then write about a place (or two) that has particular significance to them. The priority in this lesson is to share, from a place of personal strength, what makes your space stand out from all others and why.
Before drafting their neighborhood map, students discuss the following questions:
- How did the author use color as a symbol to express a larger message?
- What does the author want the reader to understand?
- Have you ever been somewhere you felt out of place? Where? Why were you uncomfortable?
Having this opportunity to brainstorm the text and community in conjunction with one another sets the students up begin drawing their neighborhood map with greater intention, critically thinking about their use of color and what message they want their map to portray that accurately depicts their community or neighborhood. This again layers in the conversation of stereotypes from week 1–what is it that people believe about our communities? Is that accurate? If not, why is this the image being portrayed? How do we change it?
The next day students watch the documentary, Our Divided City to gain a broader understanding of how communities are isolated and marginalized in Kansas City. We also read the book, The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, connecting the symbolism of the fence in the text to the Troost Wall in Kansas City. Students work more closely with Kansas City’s history learning about the injustices plaguing our city today, and the historical implications of this that we are still working to overcome. Students return to their neighborhood map, considering where they see division and unity within their own community, what causes it, and how we can continue to spread unity and fight against division. Students get time to work on their maps on this day as well.
For the socratic seminar, students bring forward the idea of beauty from the week prior to consider their role in creating unity and beauty within their communities, which include, but are not limited to their classroom community, school community, neighborhood, sports and extracurriculars.
To culminate the week with collaborative group work, we read Maybe Something Beautiful by Isabel Campoy and The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson to continue contemplating meaningful change in our community. Students develop a place-based writing piece focused on the impact of one’s community in shaping their identity within the world. They also analyze their map for its unseen or unrecognized beauty. They consider what Mira did to bring beauty into her community. They consider the stories of Nadja and Rigoberto and Angelina in The Day You Begin to think about how they used their voices and personal stories to bring about change. The place-based writing students create works to the same for the youth of Kansas City, and leads them into the culminating community and art-based field trip with a passion and fire for change!
Our Divided City: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJS9aPW8kd4