This is the exact message we aim to instill within students during the second week of KC Kids Unite. During this week, students examine identity through the lens of redefining conventional beauty and breaking down commonly assumed stereotypes by sharing pieces of their own story. They begin to unearth these ideas and beliefs through a series of questions:
- What does it mean to look closely?
- Why is looking closely so important in life?
- What are things you look at closely in your world?
- What do we miss in the world due to distraction and screens?
- What do you see in others when you look closely?
- What do you see in yourself when you look closely?
Students write and discuss with their peers thoughts and responses to these questions. Then, reading The Best Part of My by Wendy Ewald, students are inspired to write about the best part of themselves from the stance of taking action or a feature that makes them the wonderfully unique human they are. KC Kids Unite believes that developing a strong sense of self in our youth is one of the most critical steps we take in sharing our stories and voices with confidence. Sometimes the initial utterance is a quiet, shaky one, but nonetheless it was spoken, not silenced. Check out the very best parts our KC kids!
One of the things I love most about this work is that while there is a provided curriculum, all the work manifests itself in its own way within the classroom. So much of what happens in these three weeks is what we wish could happen all year– being provided guiding resources with the autonomy to bring the art and life of teaching into the classroom in the way we best see fit for our students. KC Kids Unite believes in the power of professional judgement and freedom. Teachers are THE experts in their field, and we work to center them as such in our approach to this project. Thank you for taking the time to look at the student work being created in classrooms by these very experts and their brilliant students. As I read through the work, I’m always inspired to go learn more about my family’s history and traditions, and dig deeper into who I am as well. I wish the same for you.
More poetry inspired by George Ella Lyon:
Family history and traditions research slides:
Students from across the Kansas City, Missouri area are doing just that–coming together across space and districts to learn more about each other’s personal stories and what it means to overcome the barriers the work to divide us.
KC Kids Unite is entering its 4th (and most exciting!!) year yet! Our teachers have been working since January to plan and put the finishing touches on deploying this work in their classrooms, and the time is FINALLY here! Each year, I am in awe of the students’ work with their willingness to dive into the inner reaches of themselves, navigating and sharing what exists there with admirable transparency, unbelievable poise, and the sophisticated craft of budding authors. I could keep talking about it, but I’ll just let you see for yourself.
In the first week, each classroom pairing sends pen pal letters to each other by way of introductions. They continue sharing with their partnership class and pen pals the work of each week. During week 1, the work involves students really understanding where they are from, who they are as individuals, and what has made them the people they are today. To do this work, students spend time conducting family interviews and ancestry research all to culminate in a “Where I’m From” poem, using the mentor by George Ella Lyon.
See what I mean? Amazing, right?!? This work fuels me in ways nothing else can touch. If you want to learn more about the weekly classroom curriculum, check out this post from the blog and listen to the KC Kids Unite podcast found on Anchor.
Stay tuned! More work coming in the days and weeks to come!