Embracing an inclusive and challenging curriculum

Ceddrick Hunter teaching scienceAmplify Science, our science curriculum for all grades, blends hands-on investigations, literacy-rich activities, and interactive digital tools to empower students to think, read, write, and argue like real scientists and engineers. Here are a few of the current Amplify projects happening in KIPP Chicago Middle Schools.

Each Amplify middle school unit has two engineering internships. For the first engineering internship in 7th grade, students used a virtual design tool to create a tsunami warning system for the country of Sri Lanka. Students use their knowledge on plate motion to create a system that would have a low cost, 0-1 false alarms, and give the people of Sri Lanka enough evacuation time if and when a tsunami approaches.

At the end of every unit, students participate in science seminar where they create and present their arguments to a scientific phenomenon. In the Science Seminar sequence, students apply their knowledge of plate motion to make an argument about whether divergent or convergent movement best explains the pattern of geologic activity in an area in Mexico known in geology as the Jalisco Block. Students learn that one of Dr. Moraga’s colleagues in Guadalajara needs their help communicating to local residents about plate motion in the area. Students then review evidence about plate motion in the region. The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the context of the Science Seminar and to acquaint them with the evidence that they will use to support one of two claims.

Resources

We recently learned about the great work that Facing History is doing developing educational materials on prejudice and injustice in America and Europe. These materials allow for historical analysis as well as the study of human behavior and increasing students’ ability to relate history to their lives and better understand their role in a democracy. As our social studies curriculum evolves, we are continuing to pursue critical history resources.

The Conscious Kid is an education, research and policy organization dedicated to reducing bias and promoting positive identity development in youth. They partner with organizations, children’s museums, schools, and families across the country to promote access to children’s books centering underrepresented and oppressed groups. Our Children’s Museum of Art and Social Justice borrows a set of related books from The Conscious Kid with each new art exhibition.

We are grateful for Teaching Tolerance, whose mission is to help teachers and schools educate children and youth to be active participants in a diverse democracy. Teaching Tolerance provides free resources to educators, teachers, administrators, counselors and other practitioners, who work with children from kindergarten through high school. Their program emphasizes social justice and anti-bias. The anti-bias approach encourages children and young people to challenge prejudice and learn how to be agents of change in their own lives. Our Social Justice Standards show how anti-bias education works through the four domains of identity, diversity, justice and action.

For Indigenous People’s Day, our teachers were given resources for teaching history through a critical lens from the Zinn Education Project: Teaching People’s History which offers a variety of curricula materials. This one in particular, Discovering Columbus: Re-reading the Past, was used across the region when teaching students about the often watered-down version of our history.

Updates

We are thrilled to be introducing a new computer science unit to our 7th and 8th grade science classes in partnership with Project Lead the Way. With a $20k grant awarded through Project Lead the Way, 8th graders will participate in a program called App Creators and 7th graders will work with the Innovators and Makers unit.

Other articles in this issue:

The '20-'21 school year will begin on Monday, August 24!