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South s.t.a.r.t. Influences Minnesota Teaching Curriculum

November 18, 2013

South s.t.a.r.t. Influences U of M Teaching Curriculum

On Wednesday, November 13th, Jessie Miller, a sophomore at the U of M, catered pizza to South s.t.a.r.t. and engaged 35 students from South s.t.a.r.t. in co-designing teaching curriculum for Na’im Madyun, Associate Dean in the U of M’s College of Education and Human Development. Jessie had participated in the s.t.a.r.t. workshop led by Junior Loren Towle and Senior Kyra Hood at the 2nd Annual Social Justice Fair at South High on Friday, October 18th. The racial identity curriculum for teachers will be used throughout the state by the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership (MMEP).

Our evening began with a warm-up exercise designed to take a pulse on student interests. We all stood together in a circle, and Jessie began by asking students if they had ever been discriminated against by a teacher. Students who had been discriminated against left their place in the circle, switching places with one another until one person was left in the center. That person then asked a question, and the game continued for several rounds.

After that, Jessie used teaching methods from the College of Education to guide students into discussion groups. Once students formed groups, Jessie gave them each an age group within elementary, middle school and high school, asking them to come up with ideas for curriculum that would help them better understand their racial identity. After a half hour, students used the “butterfly option” to move between groups and “cross-pollinate” the dialogue with new perspectives.

To wrap up our evening, students shared their innovative ideas for developing curriculum, from including engaging student cultural narratives and artwork in classrooms to bingo and card games that emphasize important contributions of persons of color.

Following the workshop, Jessie Miller lauded the students for their competence in addressing such challenging issues. “S.t.a.r.t. students are close to the issues of racism in our education system,” Jessie said. “That makes them very qualified to solve the problem.”

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