In this space we highlight various anti-bias activities and initiatives that our students are involved in. This page will be updated regularly so check back often and see what we’re up to!
Early Childhood Students Create Self-Portraits
An important part of Early Childhood development is understanding differences. This includes not only cultural differences, but physical ones as well. Each year the Purple Room creates self-portraits to help children think about physical features. Using mirrors, they examine their faces and recreate them using markers, pencils, paint, and other mediums.
This month, we used loose parts to create images of ourselves. Children started by choosing an oval piece of paper which best represented the shade of their skin. Teachers then guided them to think about the color, texture and shape of their features. Children could choose from a selection of objects, including yarn, buttons, gears, wood pieces, and hardware bits. In choosing these loose parts, children thought about similarities and differences. Though many children used buttons for eyes, for example, they observed how colors, shapes and details were always unique. Awareness and open-mindedness are the foundation for larger conversations about bias and diversity.
Sixth Graders Address Racism
Our Grade 6 students banded together to create a slideshow of ways they are personally combating racism and sharing ideas for others to do the same. Given the racial justice work individuals all over the country are committing to in the wake of white supremacist violence, our students are joining the efforts being made to become more anti-racist and show ally-ship to marginalized communities. They have learned that one person really can make a difference, and that if everyone comes together to do the work, then we can move toward a more equitable future!
Click the link below to see the pdf slide show that our students put together:
Grade 1 Students Learn About Ableism
Does the Lesley Ellis School provide reasonable access to the building for people who use a wheelchair, walker, braces, or crutches? Grade 1 students in Barbara’s class asked themselves this question recently as they delved into the topic of ableism.
We started our trek at the outside of the building and realized that the Oxford Street entrance had an elevator that reached the lower and first levels. On the first level, we found the stair elevator that would take us to the second floor, where our classroom is located. Using a mock chair to simulate a wheelchair, we could negotiate to move around in our room. We also realized that it would be challenging for a wheelchair to get to the loft’s top part. We had lots of exciting adaptations we could make to the loft, such as a long ramp. Finally, we rolled out into the hall, where we could use the sink to wash our hands and get water. However, the soap and paper towel dispenser would need to be relocated. Off to the bathroom, we found a wide door stall with railings next to the toilet that accommodated our wheelchair easily. Included in the stall was a sink.
Overall, we were happy to find that most of the school building was accessible to people who used wheelchairs, braces, walkers, and crutches. We are continuing this in-depth look at our school building’s ability to meet all its members’ needs as we look at other physical challenges.
Kindergartners Explore Stereotypes
In kindergarten we try to base many of our anti-bias lessons on excellent books, and often the students work on “reader’s response” projects to draw and write about the subjects which the books make the students think about. We’ve read a number of excellent books in the last months.
Julian is a Mermaid is about a boy who is wholeheartedly accepted by his grandmother when he chooses to dress in a style that does not fit his gender’s stereotypical style. Maddi’s Fridge is about economic diversity and how friends help each other in tough situations. Not All Princesses Dress in Pink was preceded by a discussion of “real princesses” and “fairy tale princesses” and a discussion of the word “stereotype.”
When the associated press called the election for the Biden/Harris ticket, we discussed the graphic that showed Kamala Harris’ body creating the shadow of Ruby Bridges, from the famous painting by Norman Rockwell. Then we read the excellent The Ruby Bridges Story about the first grader who was one of the first to be integrated into a school in the American south. We also discussed the many firsts for Harris, as a woman of Indian and Jamaican heritage.
Third and Fourth Graders Learn About the ADA
Explore what it means to be an active ally
Become the change waiting to happen – become an active ally! Within each cohort of third and fourth graders, we came one step closer by uniting hearts and minds, brainstorming various ways we could all shift our view of the world and others around us.
Together, we read the story, All the Way to the Top by Annette Bay Pimentel, with forward by Jennifer Keelen-Chaffins, which outlines the struggles of a young girl who has cerebral palsy and becomes a young voice and activist in the Disability Rights Movement.
From this, we moved on to studying the American Disabilities Act, which celebrated their 30th anniversary this summer, and had in-depth discussions about the protections and rights that this law outlines for the over 60 million Americans that live with disabilities.
Students then examined the illustrations from the text to identify the challenges that Americans with disabilities faced prior to 1990 when ADA was implemented. Though the ADA aided in opening opportunities for those with disabilities, we also recognize that there is still work to be done.
In 3/4 we may be young, but much like Jennifer Keelan-Chaffin, we have a powerful voice that can make change and be used to be an active ally.