Teaching for Change Summer 2019 Interns Blog

This blog is being maintained by Hannah Russell-Hunter and Raegan Loheide to document the work and insights of the 2019 summer interns.

Week One (June 3 – 7)

June 1

On the morning of Saturday, June 1, members of the Anti-Bias Early Childhood Education Working Group met at the offices of Teaching for Change for the final session of the year. The working group met monthly throughout the school year to provide feedback on children’s literature, support teacher growth and development, and collectively create new curricular resources. To culminate the year together, they gathered for a final workshop focused on Teaching About Family Structures and Fairness. Read more.

June 5

I (Hannah Russell-Hunter) visited Alice Deal Middle School (DCPS) and sat in on Ms. Amy Trenkle’s 8th grade U.S. History class. Having gone to an International Baccalaureate (IB) high school, I was curious to see how IB history was taught in a middle school setting. I sat in on Trenkle’s first period of the morning where the students were presenting their final projects. The projects had to touch on the four “Advisories,” or thematic groupings of content: “Time, Place, and Space” “Systems” “Development” and “Change.” The first projects presented were a rap song, a poem, and a video. Then posters and other projects on paper were posted around the room. Students put constructive comments and feedback on post-it notes and put them on the projects or on the table of the group.

As students were reviewing each other’s projects, I spoke with Trenkle about the decision to have a thematic approach to teaching history, rather than a chronological one. She said that this was the first year that the history teachers were trying it, and would use it for two more years before deciding whether or not to continue the approach. This would give Trenkle and the other teachers the opportunity to work out issues with the model and get it to its best version by the third year before making a decision.

Trenkle also showed me a project they had done earlier in the year, where the students took a field trip to the Smithsonian American Art Museums and National Portrait Gallery. There were a series of selected paintings that related to a range of topic in U.S. history, from tenements to the plight of braceros to the Charleston church shooting in 2015. Accompanying it were poems made by students inspired by the works they saw. As a Studio Art major, I really appreciated seeing how art could be easily connected to teaching history.

Although the visit was brief and I didn’t have an opportunity to engage with the students because it was a presentation day, I got a lot out of observing Trenkle and the students in the class.

  

After visiting Ms. Trenkle’s classroom, I took the Metro to the Library of Congress to see a talk at the American Folklife Center. I got there early, which gave me time to check out the exhibit Art in Action: Herblock and Fellow Artists Respond to Their Times. There was a great range of art and subject matter, but I was particularly drawn to a piece that connected the beautiful prints of 19th-century Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada to the fight against gentrification in San Francisco. There were also prints from the Amplifier project!

The talk I attended was called Black Lives Matter and Music: On Documenting Contemporary Culture. Dr. Fernando Orejuela, a professor at Indiana University, talked about the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement on contemporary music created after the shooting of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. Dr. Stephanie Shonekan at UMass-Amherst used the song “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” as a through-line to study how the sentiments conveyed in the song changed based on who was singing it and how lyrics were subtly changed. The song means different things with sung by Nina Simone versus Peter Paul and Mary, for example.

Allie Martin, a postdoctoral student at the University of Indiana, gave her talk on #DontMuteDC and #Moechella, a movement that began after noise complaints led to Go-Go music that pours out of the Metro PCS store by the corner of 7th and Florida was silenced after complaints, likely from the expensive high-rise across the street. She discussed how “nuisance” is a way for white people to audibly mark a space as theirs and connected this incident to the bill that would criminalize street performers and the Police Department’s “Go-Go Report” in the early 2000s. During the Q&A, she described the silencing of the Metro PCS store as a “powder keg” that has allowed people to both rally behind something that is both affirming of DC Black history and against the gentrification of the city. The talk left me thinking about how this incident, and the intentions of those who called in the complaint, have only served to intensify and unite resistance to gentrifying forces in the city and lift up activism that has been flying under the radar on for years.

Week Two (June 10 – 14)

June 10

SNCC veteran Judy Richardson was the opening speaker for the National History Day 2019 competition.

Today I (Hannah) went to National History Day at the University of Maryland, College Park. This week, middle and high school students from around the country are presenting historical research projects in a variety of mediums, including performance, papers, and documentaries and compete for prizes. I decided to go see some of the performances happening that morning in the middle school category.

The first three projects I saw were on the Suffragettes, the Freedom Riders, and the construction of the Union-Pacific Rail Road. The last one performance I watched — and the one I enjoyed the most — was on the life of Katherine Johnson, an African American mathematician [featured in Hidden Figures] whose work was instrumental in the success of the Apollo 13 mission and whose contributions until recently went unrecognized. The short play was written and performed by two girls. One played Katherine Johnson and the other narrated her life, from growing up in rural West Virginia to being given a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

At the end of their performance, the two girls held hands and confidently told the audience: “As an African-American Muslim and a Mexican-American Christian, we are able to choose whatever career path we want because of women like Katherine Johnson who paved the way for us.” As if that wasn’t enough to impress me, I found out during the Q&A with the judges that they had gotten access to NASA records that Katherine Johnson had had a hand in writing as part of their research for the script! It was definitely a worthwhile trip.

June 12

Raegen attended the DC Film Premiere at the Anacostia High School of East of the River, a short film exploring school pushout. The screening was followed by a panel with the film creator/director and cast members. The film is recommended by Essence as one of the Top 20 films to see from the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

 

Posted Wednesday, June 12, 2019 |

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