Teaching for Social Justice Sampler:
Valentine's Day
in the 3rd grade, rural/suburban classroom.

Teacher had noticed that kids tended to pick on, put down, or make fun of each other regularly. Her goal was to direct some attention to that dynamic.

Traditional or typical lesson

Teaching for Character Education

Teaching for social justice

Using classroom dynamics to determine a focus for some classroom activities

Using classroom dynamics to determine a focus for some classroom activities

Using classroom dynamics to determine a focus for some classroom activities

Business as usual

A goal here is to encourage kids to value differences.

The goal here is to help kids value differences, recognize injustice, and take action against injustice.

* Have plenty of literature in the classroom.

* Don't allow put downs in the classroom

* Celebrate mainstream 
holidays regularly.

* Praise children regularly.

* Read the book Don't Laugh At Me by Peter Yarrow

* Have plenty of literature in the classroom that deals with issues of being left out, etc.

* Each kid makes a Valentine's Day card for one other randomly chosen student. On it they much list five good things about the student

* Discuss positive and negative character traits; talk about how what we see as negative could be viewed in a positive spin (e.g. wanders in room could be seen as adventuresome)

* Students read out the Valentine's card to the whole class so everyone sees the positive things about each student


* Have a number of pieces of literature that deal with someone being left out, made fun of, bullied, etc.  

* Talk to kids directly about bullying  

* Discuss the differences between bullying, teasing, putting down, making fun of, harassing, etc. Ask for examples, have kids explain distinctions.  

* Who tends to be the recipient of bullying, making fun of, etc? Have kids talk about who is the victim and who tends to carry out the bullying. What characteristics do kids focus on to ridicule?  

* Note issues of race, gender, class, disability that often arise in such situations  

* During Black History month, or Women's History month, or Latino Heritage month, make use of stories in which people of color or women have been ridiculed.  

* Discuss what actions kids can take if they see someone being ridiculed.

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Pat Russo
 Last Updated 10/30/07