Actions Speak Louder than Words

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This week I have been putting the finishing touches on my presentation for the Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum in Barcelona, Spain. I am going as a U.S. Expert Educator and presenting my project "Breaking Barriers". In reflecting on the project I have realized that my students never directly asked for this topic to be explored; however it was me reading their actions that brought this project into place. If you are interested in reading the details visit my profile and Breaking Barriers project. The project is based on bringing about awareness of stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination in an effort to build acceptance of diversity in our community. Students create QR codes and posters, are introduced to coding through Scratch, produce a Stop Motion Animation to promote acceptance, and compile a documentary that includes an interview with someone who has experienced prejudice and discrimination. All of this is in an effort to have students learn who someone is on the inside instead of relying on stereotypes and prejudices. Over the last few years our student population has become more diverse and while we do not experience racial tension, the students tend to segregate themselves. Walking down the halls, into the lunchroom, or by the library it is impossible to not notice groups of different races sitting across the room from each other. So, while my students never spoke about what was going on, their actions spoke volumes. By observing the actions of students you can often clearly hear what they may wish to say. I took the risk and brought up the topic in my classes. This opened very productive dialog between the groups of students. It was noted that they separated themselves because they would feel uncomfortable approaching a group of the other race, even though they were friends in class. Students recognized that they all wanted to interact and get to know each other and no one should be intimated. The next step was deciding how to build awareness of the importance of embracing diversity and accepting everyone for who they are on the inside. With guidance the students design technology projects to accomplish their goals. Take the time to watch your students and then offer the opportunity to give them a voice on a topic they may not willingly bring up themselves.

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