Cheryl Streeter, a second-grade teacher at Olde Providence Elementary in Charlotte, applied for a grant to bring the topic of diversity to the forefront of all classrooms in her school, which consists of many ethnic groups.
Through the implementation of her grant, students will get 30 books and book bins for storage. Her goal is for the students to learn to respect each other’s individuality by realizing that everybody has ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors that are different from their own. Through the reading of these books, students will be encouraged to interact with others and appropriately develop and maintain friendships. In turn, they will be guided into becoming leaders, followers, and workers in a society where cooperation is a must.
Ms. Streeter’s unique teaching style demonstrates the same ideas that the project hopes to accomplish; she allows each student to be themselves. As the students gather onto a rug in front of the classroom, she introduces them to history by viewing historical videos and reading books. Students are asked to turn to their neighbor to have a 3- to 5-minute “academic conversation” to discuss their individual views on the topic at hand. During this time, each student is allowed to agree or disagree, clarify and/or confirm their thoughts. If one member of the group is confused about their peer’s statement, their peer can add to his/her statement to make themselves better understood.
Several topics will be discussed during this school year including differences in age, race, heritage, and art to name a few. The grant started in February with Black History Month. The students studied Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech and the importance of the March in Washington, D.C. Following this lesson, some of the second-grade students commented:
“It’s more about growing together and working hard to find justice. This helps us have hope and find solutions to problems.”
“Reading these books help us learn more about history and how to be a team. History helps us learn how we can do things together.”
“Hope means that you pray and believe in something you want to happen. Like, I’m hoping to be great.”
Eventually, the project will expand to other parts of the world using Google Earth so the students can see the similarities and differences between other countries and the United States. The students will view areas like Korea, Spain, and Italy by using Pen Pal or Skype to connect with others outside of our country.
Teachers, if you have a Bright Idea, please share it with us! Apply now for a Bright Ideas Grant and for the opportunity to implement a creative project in your school. Final application deadline is September 19.