2021 Black Lives Matter at School Virtual Curriculum Fair

It was a moment to really draw a line and reaffirm my convictions and purpose for being a part of this and how I want to do my part. The most important thing I learned about teaching the history of Black Americans is to not sugarcoat injustice and center the lesson on resistance every time. — Jennifer A.

I am walking away with amazing strategies for how to help kids shift thinking about history being absolute; from only seeing it through one lens. — Anne C.

I took away the importance of redirecting the school system to joy, creativity, imagination, and curiosity rather than the handed down discourse from corporate values. We need to create learning spaces that are not about shame or fear. And if we are doing the Black Lives Matter at School Week, not to water it down. . . Do the work! Josarie M.

On January 30, 2021, Teaching for Change and the Howard University School of Education co-hosted an annual curriculum fair to help educators to learn more about the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action and Year of Purpose. More than 500 educators from 42 states and the District of Columbia deepened their practice as they learned from the keynote speakers and participated in workshops. This was the first year that the curriculum fair was held virtually. Past fairs were held in 2020 and 2019 at Howard University’s Miner Hall in Washington, D.C..

Dr. Dawn Williams and Jonathan Lykes, Howard University Miner Hall, Black Lives Matter at School Curriculum Fair, 2019.

The curriculum fair kicked off with a welcome from Rosalie Reyes on behalf of Teaching for Change and Dr. Dawn Williams on behalf of the Howard University School of Education. Williams encouraged educators to:

Exercise political courage through your curriculum, your instruction, and, of course, your pedagogy. There is power in your voice. But please know there is also a noticeable power in your silence.

The welcome was followed by keynote speakers Jesse Hagopian and Denisha Jones, educators and editors of the new book, Black Lives Matter at School: An Uprising for Educational Justice. Jones and Hagopian are both members of the national Black Lives Matter at School steering committee. Hagopian, co-editor of Teaching for Black Lives, spoke about how the education gap is used to shame Black and brown students into believing that they deserve their lot in life because they didn’t achieve a certain score on a test.

They want us to believe deeply in this endless achievement gap, but I want to reject that notion and say there is no achievement gap. There is an education debt, and Black Lives Matter at School is coming to collect . . . This week of action is one of the methods we have for building a collective struggle for uprooting institutional racism and inequality in our schools.

Following the keynote, participants interacted with a Gallery Hall populated with stories and ideas for bringing the Black Lives Matter movement’s 13 guiding principles into classrooms from early childhood through high school.

Click on each image to see the materials shared.

BLM Early Childhood GalleryBLM Elementary Gallery

BLM Middle School Gallery

BLM High School Gallery

After the Gallery Hall activity, there were two sessions of workshop breakouts. Read below for details on each session and to download materials from each session where available.

A huge thank you to all of the presenters, volunteers, donors, and participants who made our first virtual Black Lives Matter at School Curriculum Fair a huge success! We hope you will join us for our second annual virtual curriculum fair. Save the date for January 8, 2022!

Session One Workshops

Teaching, Loving, and Believing Black Girls [ASL]
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Workshop Description: All ages. We will examine data from national research surrounding Black girls in classroom settings. We will offer strategies that can be implemented in the classroom to center Black girls’ voices and the ways teachers can work to counteract biases and strengthen relationships.

Facilitated by Dr. Shari Berga, director of diversity and inclusion at Our Lady of Good Counsel High School in Olney, Maryland. Berga taught social studies in Prince George’s County Public Schools for nine years.

Co-facilitated by Akailah Jenkins McIntyre, who has taught high school English and worked as a director of diversity and inclusion in the Baltimore and D.C. area. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Education Leadership.

Teaching about the Black Lives Matter 13 Guiding Principles in Early Childhood Classrooms

Workshop Description: Early Childhood. Learn about how educators of preschool-aged children have incorporated the Black Lives Matter 13 guiding principles into the classroom. Explore resources, including books and teaching ideas related to each principle using kid-friendly language.

Facilitated by Makai Kellogg, an anti-bias early childhood educator and equity and diversity coordinator at School for Friends in Washington, D.C. 

Resistance to Colonization through Reclamation of Culture and Community [ASL]
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Workshop Description: Elementary/Middle School. Fourth graders from Mundo Verde PCS will share their process for creating zines that incorporate historical fiction, informational writing, and the arts to resist modern colonization. The process overview will include resources such as texts, videos, lessons, and interviews of local D.C. organizers and resisters that can be incorporated into the classroom. The unit of study focuses on how modern and historical peoples — led primarily by Black and Indigenous people of color — have resisted colonization by reclaiming aspects of culture and community including language, food, land, music, movement, storytelling and spirituality/religion.

Facilitated by Dani McCormick, 4th grade teacher at Mundo Verde PCS and member of the Changemaker Collaborative’s Educators for Equity, DC ACTS union, and Ward 1 mutual aid. 

Joy in Resistance: Teaching about Oppression with Hope and Inspiration [ASL]

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Workshop Description: Middle School/High School/Adult Education. Ida B. Wells Education Project educators will share pedagogical practices and resources to help social science educators encourage inspiration and efficacy in students when teaching about present day and historical oppression in ways that center Black humanity and empower students to challenge racism in their own lives. We will model classroom-tested activities and structure, sharing lessons from our Lovecraft Country Lesson Series and other activities, which focus on student empowerment in exploring dark topics in American history. These activities include analyzing media images and developing media literacy, using Black-centered primary sources to build historical context, and extension activities that encourage positive engagement with movements for social change. Workshop participants are encouraged to view the lessons in the Lovecraft Country series before the workshop.

Co-facilitated by Peta Lindsay, Charla Johnson, and Cyrus Hampton. Peta Lindsay is director of the Ida B. Wells Education Project, an anti-racist collective of classroom educators. Lindsay is a grassroots organizer and U.S. History and African American studies teacher at Venice High School in Los Angeles. Charla Johnson, an Ida B. Wells Project board member, taught English Language Arts in Decatur, Georgia, for thirteen years. A writer and activist now residing in New Orleans, Johnson has written and published works of fiction and non-fiction. Cyrus Hampton, an Ida B. Wells Project board member, is a classroom educator and the assistant director of the First Year Writing Program at Howard University. Hampton has taught since 2006, with experience in classrooms PreK through college.

Teaching Black Women’s Activism & Leadership
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Workshop Description: Middle School/ High School/Adult Education. The workshop will focus on highlighting the histories, activism, leadership, and legacies of Black women activists around the world, emphasizing the critical fact: history will always be incomplete when Black women’s activism is overlooked, neglected, and untold. By interrogating and discussing the Black Women Radicals’ database and our blog, Voices in Movement, the workshop will engage participants through an intersectional and transnational Black feminist approach in a critical discussion on why Black women’s historical and contemporary activism should be incorporated at all education levels. Learning objectives include: 1) Understanding and interrogating Black women’s radical activism in Africa and in the African Diaspora; 2) Critical dialogue on the institutional erasure of Black women’s transnational activism and the structural barriers to accessing Black women’s intellectual, cultural, and political productions around the world and; 3) Discussion about digital resources and tools (like the database and the blog) that can be incorporated into syllabi, curriculum, and in community spaces to overcome educational and institutional erasure of Black women’s historical and contemporary activism.

Facilitated by Jaimee A. Swift (she/her) founder, creator, and executive director of Black Women Radicals and the School for Black Feminist Politics. She is a Ph.D candidate at Howard University, with concentrations in Black Politics, International Relations, and Comparative Politics. 

Globalism and Restorative Justice: Shell Oil in the Niger Delta
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Workshop Description: Middle School/ High School/ Adult. Participate in a current events role play centered on the Black Lives Matter principles of globalism and restorative justice, and get all the materials you need to bring the interactive role play into your classroom tomorrow! In 2020, the international court in The Hague, the Netherlands, decided to investigate and prosecute more than 30 years of violence, pollution, and environmental damage in the Niger Delta region. Since international companies began to extract and export oil from this region, there have been hundreds of oil spills and many violent clashes between local people, oil workers, and government forces. Who is responsible for the pollution and violence? How can peace and justice be restored? As lawyers in the trial, you will present testimony, argue the facts, and represent your clients in front of a jury to determine who is responsible for conditions in the Niger Delta. This teaching activity engages students in critical thinking around the experience of Black people globally, the impact of oil and fossil fuel consumption on people’s land and livelihood, and what needs to be done to repair the harm to the Niger Delta and its communities.

Facilitated by Natalie Stapert, humanities coordinator at Lowell School in Washington, D.C.

Reshaping Classroom Engineering Design for Conscious Action [ASL]
Workshop Slides

Workshop Description: Middle School/High School. This interactive workshop has the goal of creating a dialogue around two topics: how to authentically incorporate social justice and anti-racist teaching practices into an engineering unit, and bringing engineering and design processes to fortify the actions that activists would take in everyday life. Participants will work with two frameworks for writing curriculum: one that focuses on engineering (from the Knowles Teachers Initiative) and the other that focuses on social justice (from the University of Illinois at Chicago). Participants will work in small groups to discuss and create an integrated framework for social justice in engineering. A question that participants and facilitators will grapple with is “Which will create a more authentic learning experience for our students: engineering solutions to social justice problems or maintaining a social justice stance in engineering challenges?” Facilitators will guide small discussion groups, provide curriculum examples that fit into these frameworks, and invite them to join a larger group, Knowles Engineering for Social Justice, to continue these conversations and create a community of STEM educators passionate about this work.

Co-facilitated by Emily Berman and Dr. Katey Shirey. Emily Berman is a physics teacher at Nicholas Senn High School in Chicago, Illinois. She is a senior fellow and a member of the Knowles Engineering Leadership Team. Shirey is an integrated STEAM education expert with experience bringing engineering and art into integrated STEAM courses and programs around the world through her experience as a Knowles Teacher Initiative Senior Fellow and through her own STEAM education consulting service, edukatey, LLC.

Session Two Workshops

Black Books Matter: Books Written/Illustrated by Black Authors/Illustrators [ASL]
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Workshop Description: All Ages. Join school librarian K. C. Boyd as she leads educators, parents and caregivers in a lively presentation on why Black Books Matter. Boyd will discuss the trends of the inequities of the selection of books by school systems across the country and how this impacts decision-making at the local level. Most importantly, Boyd will convey why daily reading makes a difference socially, emotionally, and academically for our young people. An engaging and inspiring book talk will be provided where attendees can learn what’s hot in K-12 books and rediscover timeless classics that all will enjoy. Most importantly, attendees will receive access to a trusted booklist that will influence book selection for mandatory reading material in schools, for leisure reading for K-12 readers and beyond.

Facilitated by K. C. Boyd, a school librarian with the D.C. public schools and member of the Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) Equity Collaborative. 

Mindful Moments: Radical Wellness for Black Lives [ASL]
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Workshop Description: All Ages. In this country, Black people have been experiencing collective trauma for hundreds of years. This manifests in our bodies and causes many illnesses and pain. We have to be radical (not unapologetic) when it comes to taking care of ourselves. In this workshop, participants will take time to explore their personal challenges with wellness and practice some strategies to begin using in their wellness practice. We will explore the three major functions of the brain and how trauma is stored in the body. Then we will explore mindful movement and breathing and reflect on the experience in our body. Participants will leave with a three-step framework to practice radical wellness daily.

Facilitated by Dekebra Crowe, mindfulness educator and founder of DC Royal GEMS, a wellness education consulting firm based in Washington, D.C.

Stories of the Great Migration through the Artwork of Aaron Douglas [ASL]
Workshop Slides

Workshop Description: Elementary/Middle school. Through the work of Aaron Douglas, students can learn about the history and lives of African Americans. The workshop will consist of “I notice, I wonder,” putting stories to different images, and capturing the emotions of the subjects to see how African Americans made the journey to urban cities outside of the south for various reasons. Students will learn about African American history and how that affected the largest inner-migration of an ethnic group in American history. Materials to have handy: white paper, scissors, pen/pencil, markers/color pencils, colored construction paper, circular objects, glue.

Facilitated by Raphael Bonhomme, a D.C. public schools 3rd grade social studies, math, and science teacher.

COINTELPRO: Teaching the FBI’s War on the Black Freedom Movement
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Workshop Description: Middle School/ High School/ Adult. Participants in this workshop will explore a series of declassified documents from the FBI’s counterintelligence programs aimed at the Black Freedom Movement. This exploration helps students understand that the FBI’s campaign of destruction — which included legal harassment, media manipulation, blackmail, infiltration, and violence—targeted not just “radicals,” like the Black Panthers and the Black Power movement, but also nonviolent organizations like SNCC, SCLC, and its leader, Martin Luther King Jr. After delving into the documents to gather evidence, workshop participants will brainstorm different ways they might use the documents in different settings for the Week of Action.

Facilitated by Ursula Wolfe-Rocca, high school social studies teacher in Oregon. She is also an editor at Rethinking Schools and an organizer and writer at the Zinn Education Project.

Black Women Organize: From the International Council of the Women of the Darker Races of the World, to STAR, and the Combahee River Collective
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Workshop Description: Middle School/High School/Adult. In this interactive workshop, participants will examine how to bring the Black Lives Matter at School guiding principles of Black Women, Globalism, Queer Affirming, and Trans Affirming to life in the secondary classroom through case studies of the following organizations and some of the Black women who led them: the International Council of the Women of the Darker Races of the World (Mary Church Terrell), the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (Marsha P. Johnson), and the Combahee River Collective (Barbara Smith).

Co-facilitated by Dr. Alana Murray and Tiferet Ani. Murray is an educator-activist who has taught world history on both the middle- and high-school levels and currently serves as a middle school principal at Shady Grove Middle School in Montgomery County, Maryland public schools. Ani is a social studies specialist for Montgomery County Public Schools and a 9th grade U.S. History teacher at Northwood HS in Silver Spring.

“Go-Go City: Displacement & Protest in Washington, D.C.”: A Documentary Film [ASL]

Workshop Description: Middle School/High School/Adult. For decades, Washington, D.C., has been a beacon for Black culture and community. Now, however, a wave of economic and cultural gentrification occurring at breakneck speed threatens to erase this history. “Go-Go City: Displacement & Protest in Washington, DC” dives into this rich and colorful tapestry and the forces behind the gentrification that stand to mute it. The film interweaves scenes of protest as displaced communities take to the streets to rally around the city’s beloved go-go music. This documentary film can be a valuable tool for instructors interested in considering the protest movement for racial justice, the history of Washington, D.C., and the economic and cultural impacts of gentrification. In this workshop, participants will view part of the film and discuss how they may use this film in their classrooms. The film is free to access for all educators through the Bertelsmann Foundation.

Facilitated by Samuel George, documentary filmmaker and analyst for the Bertelsmann Foundation in Washington, D.C. He focuses on the intersection of economics, politics, the digital revolution, and daily life.

More Reflections from Participants

I felt encouraged in this space you provided for me to learn. This is important to me because I do not feel the same way at my school, specifically in regards to race. I am grateful for the Padlet because it gives me a place to start. I have a list of ten books to order right now and I’m excited about the Freedom Reads program on Social Justice Books. To me, teaching feels just like working on a piece of art, I need a place to start to find a foothold to begin my climb. This makes me wonder how many of the students in my class have not found a foothold in my teaching. So I will reflect, listen, and move forward. — JJ. A.

It was amazing to hear from those involved in this work. Really motivating and gives me ammunition in making a change in my district that is resistant to Black Lives Matter at School. — Kristin D.

I appreciated the idea that many schools do “see something, say something” but don’t explicitly include racism, discrimination and injustice in the list of “things” to call out. Making changes that encourage students to disrupt more than just “bullying” is an obvious next step. —  Tori G.

I loved the idea of reframing the education gap to “educational debt” and also focusing on teaching students to study and research rather than to memorize and passively take in information. — Danielle J.

I found the keynote inspiring and it got me pumped to get out in the classroom and cause some good trouble 🙂 — Janet O.

I was impressed by all the resources introduced. It was great to hear from someone who works with preschoolers and how she has incorporated these guiding principles with children so young. I work in special education, so it makes me hopeful that there are ways to teach Black Lives Matter with all children, regardless of developmental or communication level. — Allyson C.

Great to meet Jesse Hagopian and Denisha Jones and hear directly from them as leaders of the Black Lives Matter at School movement. I also loved hearing from Howard University Dean Williams. Her words were very powerful — I need to go back and watch the video to bring some of her beautiful phrases into my classroom this week. — Natalie S.

Jesse Hagopian described Black Lives Matter at School so well: to teach with Black joy, imagination, creativity, and collaboration. Why would anyone NOT want to do that? And the call to action around lip service or dumbing down action even when the “mission statement” mentions Black Lives Matter. — Katey S.

Thank you for putting this together. Any chance I can get to deepen my practice and learn from others about how to create a more just world for my students, I am all about it! — Krista B.

Thank you for this curriculum fair! It was the best one I’ve attended online so far! — Katherine L.

This workshop is a real gift. I had to make a time sacrifice to attend and it was ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT. Thank you. — Anne C.

Here is what I will do with what I learned: First, I will share it in our school’s weekly news for all to see. Second, I will share it with my colleagues during team meetings. Third, I will bring it to the equity leadership team. Fourth, I will get my hands on a lot of these books to read myself, to my students and to my own children. Most importantly, I will use these ideas and resources to improve my teaching and incorporate more African American authors, history, and narratives of resistance and inspiration throughout the year. I want to work with my 4th grade team to create a similar project to the educators at Mundo Verde where students use research to create stories of African American joy and resilience in colonial America through reclaiming aspects of their culture. —  Emily U.

I’m so ready for the rest of the year. I love that it was stressed this is longer than a week and I have acquired some new ideas on how to incorporate into principles beyond the week. This is my 4th year and I TRULY enjoyed this! And it was kind of nicer doing this virtually so there were so many voices from across the country, so perhaps post COVID-19 we can incorporate a little more virtual for these. — Adia H.

The curriculum fair motivated me to be courageous in doing this work. — Michelle S.

Thank you for cultivating this space. I loved entering rooms and seeing my teacher comrades. You can feel the love and community through the screens. — Tiffany M.

I have saved and bookmarked resources and plan to use these resources when I develop curriculum in my work as a TA and hopefully someday when I am a teacher! I also will bring many of the bigger ideas and concepts from today into my everyday life to raise my consciousness around issues of equity, particularly when it comes to race and gender. Thank you so much to everyone who helped organize this! This event makes me feel hopeful and motivated to become a teacher. — Aya B.

It was a great program. I feel more inspired and motivated. The Padlet gallery was very informative. The workshops were inspiring. It was a great way to spend part of a Saturday. Thank you to all who worked to organize and conduct today. Stay safe and blessed. Ashe! Ashe!! — Angie H.