We wanted to take a few minutes to let you know more about our peace education work.
From January through March, we focus a great deal on different African-American Peace Keepers - people who were brave enough to change the world, peacefully. Over the course of several months, students are introduced to Martin Luther King Jr. and why we celebrate his life every year. We then look at his ideas, their importance, and how we can still use them today. We talk about how his words inspired changes and watch a video of his famous “I Have a Dream Speech.” We continue at our peace lessons with stories about inspiration, with historical people like Ruby Bridges, Harriet Tubman, and others. We also look at famous artists like Jacob Lawrence and folk tales and stories told by slaves in America.
We use literature and group discussions in the classroom to celebrate great African American people of the past and present. We try to avoid much of the extreme violence and focus on more on the people who risked everything to make the world a better place. We give students a glimpse of history and have them begin to understand the long and multifaceted history of African Americans. We continue through March and bring all the information learned about African-American Peace Keepers and tie it in with our celebration with another Peace Keeper, Maria Montessori.
Some books we read together as a class:
Introduced by Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King – by Jean Marzollo
Martin’s Big Words – By Doreen Rappaport
Duke Ellington – Andrea Davis Pinkney
The Story of Ruby Bridges – Robert Coles
Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys
When Harriet met Sojurner – Catherine Clinton
Show Way – Jacqueline Woodson
We also address peace education from the inside. This year we are having weekly Mindfulness lessons with Ms. Jessica. To give you a glimpse of the kind of work she’s been doing with us, here is her overview of their work in the right now. Here is what she says:
“…We are working on "Nature Meditation" in mindfulness right now. This will be a series of 4 sessions. The intention of this practice is to help children identify and connect with elements in nature as a reconnection to self. For each lesson they will learn the intent and purpose of the element being introduced, and a simple breathing exercise that goes with it. Last week we learned about our "inner mountain". We brainstormed what makes a mountain significant and then reflected on when we feel our inner mountain the most. Students talked about sitting in a tree, reading a book, swimming, or spending time with mom. Next, they selected a stone or shell from my box and drew a picture of a mountain on it. Next, we practiced the breathing exercise - "Breathing in I see myself as a mountain, breathing out I am solid and calm, nothing can move or distract me." This week we will learn about our "inner flower" and how it helps us stay fresh, joyful, and beautiful. Each student received a small colored mesh bag which will hold their nature elements. The nature meditation bags will remain in the classroom through the end of the year.”
To bring mindfulness into our everyday classroom lives, we are introducing mindfulness tables to the classrooms where students can go to practice mindfulness, make wishes for love or peace, give thanks to the earth, or just quietly reconnect with themselves. This table sits someplace quiet and free from traffic and distractions. It is covered with a simple cloth with space to add a basket for the nature mediation bags and other elements of mindfulness, peace, and nature. Students can use the table in many ways, including "mindfully" selecting items from outdoors to add to the table each week and return the previous items back to nature.
We hope you have a peaceful week!
Mr. Ben with Ms. Carol and Ms. Khavitha