Embracing an Inclusive and Challenging Curriculum - KIPP Chicago Public Schools

The Whole Child Review Issue No. 8, January 2022

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Embracing an Inclusive and Challenging Curriculum

MVMT Financial Literacy

The MVMT is a financial literacy curriculum initiative created by KIPP AMP (NYC) Middle School principal, Antoine Lewis. The MVMT believes that fostering literacy, leadership skills, and entrepreneurial spirit in our young people is the ultimate anti-racist act and will build a better future for Black communities and us all. Financial freedom is liberation, for it eliminates Black communities’ dependency on the capitalist structures that were built to exclude them.

As we begin to pilot Mr. Lewis’ financial literacy curriculum around KIPP Chicago, we are so grateful that three teachers have formed after school clubs to bring the material to middle school students. Dyamond Thompson and Keyahna Curry at KIPP Ascend Middle School and Brandon Saunders at KIPP Academy Chicago each have an after school club dedicated to financial literacy.

English Language Arts (ELA) Team Reimagines Curriculum

We are piloting a new curriculum based on the science of how kids learn to read in five classrooms across the region. This curriculum was developed through a review of 6 common, highly-rated ELA curricula with teacher-led focus groups at all four of our middle schools.

Embedded in our mission of developing students into proficient and confident readers is the core belief that literacy is an essential condition for pursuing the paths students choose, leading fulfilling lives, and creating a more just world. Given the history of our country and city we teach in, and the identities of our students, we believe that fostering critical literacy in our students is not only achievable for all KIPPsters, but also non-negotiable. After piecing together existing curriculum and reviewing the content with a focus group of KIPP Chicago ELA teachers, we created a scope and sequence that includes texts featuring a diverse range of perspectives.

ELA Unit Highlight: The Middle East & Human Rights

Edward Hardman and Juan Zuñiga, 5th grade ELA teachers at KIPP Ascend Middle School and KIPP One Academy, are currently leading their students through a unit on the Middle East and human rights. To answer the guiding questions: “How can one person impact a community?”, “How can family relationships and dynamics influence a person’s actions?” students are reading excerpts from The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis, I Am Malala (Young Reader’s Edition) by Malala Yousafzai, and Kids of Kabul by Deborah Ellis.

In this unit, adapted from the FishTank Learning Curriculum, students explore the Taliban’s influence on the Middle East through the eyes of multiple young women. They are challenged to think about what constitutes basic human rights, and women’s rights, as both are threatened under Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Toward the end of the unit, they meet Malala Yousafzai and analyze her determination to fight for women’s rights in Pakistan, despite facing incredible threats and challenges. While sharpening important literacy skills, students are also building a deeper understanding of the importance of women’s rights and access to education around the world, particularly in the Middle East.

Sexual Health Education

Following the recommendation that all students receive sexual health education, KIPP Chicago is committed to ensuring this happens in grades K-8. To help students make informed decisions and safe choices, the Chicago Public Schools’ curriculum covers topics such as human development, healthy relationships, decision making, abstinence, contraception, and disease prevention.

A vital part of Whole Child development, the impact of this learning can be seen across our middle schools, where students are engaging in the curriculum. Mr. Fisher, 7th and 8th grade PE and Sex Ed. teacher, asked students to describe the impact this curriculum has had on them. Here are some of their thoughts:

“I appreciate that I know correct terms. I knew a lot of this stuff, but you taught us in a professional manner.”
“I learned more about gender identity. I didn’t know about that before. And sexual orientation.”
“This expanded my mind, my vocabulary. This is needed.”
“I liked how we were separated so we could learn from a woman. We learned what we needed to learn. We were comfortable.”
“It’s important to have sex ed because some people aren’t being taught this at home. That way you know the risks, the possibilities…we just gotta take care of ourselves.”

All KIPP Chicago SEL chairs have been trained in the curriculum so they are able to continue supporting the teachers who are leading the units.

KAMS’ Ms. Murff Engages Students with Comics

Being an excellent teacher means relentlessly searching for the subjects that will prompt students to light up, igniting a love for learning. Ms. Murff from KIPP Ascend Middle school embodies this excellence in teaching by introducing comic book creation to a small group of students. This trio of 5th grade best friends, Ethan, Jamal, and Caylin, have been creating imaginative comics this year. They even write each other into their stories. Ms. Murff, we love seeing how you’ve fostered a deep love for learning with these three!

KACP Excellence Day

Students at KACP participate in three Excellence classes; spanish, visual art, and theater. On Friday, January 21st, an entire school day was dedicated to celebrating the arts. Students came to school dressed however they wanted in order to express their artistic, creative selves. The morning started with an all-school Excellence showcase via Zoom, hosted by Ms. Schubow and Ms. Soule, the visual arts and theater teachers. The video featured work from every single student. Click here to view part of the showcase!

Then, an arts lesson accompanied each subject for every K-2 class: math, reading, and science. During math, a spanish lesson was integrated into the math objective. Reading transformed into a readers’ theater and science was all about creating a hypothesis to guess what happens when mixing primary colors of Play-Doh. At the end of the day, every grade had an arts celebration. Kindergartners decorated maracas, learning about the instruments’ significance, 1st graders made puppets and performed in theater, and 2nd graders made scratch art masks.

KACP Excellence team, thank you for planning an Excellence day, emphasizing how the arts are an integral, critical component of students’ education journey!

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