Monday, July 23, 2012

Don't Judge A Person By Their Trash

I recently wrote a post on "Not Judging A Book By It's Cover" and a lesson I do on tolerance. It was a lengthy post, so I decided to split it into two parts.

As you read in part one, I am all for 'beg, borrowing, and stealing' a good lesson and part two is no exception. Have you ever sat in on your librarians class lessons? If not, you need to add it to your 2012-2013 school year bucket list right now! Our librarian not only does amazing research with our students, but she also does amazing lessons with them about citizenship, tolerance, and more. After watching her in action I knew we needed to team up and collaborate on our lessons.

Below is a lesson she did with her classes in fifth grade this past year. I stopped by and just chatted with the students casually about their experience, and I encourage you to do this and more! Not only are you collaborating, but just think of the power of a small or large group discussion after such an activity. You can really assist your peers in helping let students process their experience and connect it to real life.

In this lesson, our librarian collected trash, not shoes. She asked our teachers to collect their trash for a few days and give it to her in an unmarked bag.  *Note: I think this goes without saying, but leave the banana peels, old milk, etc. at home with your regular trash. This trash should be 'picked through' and only non perishable items should remain. It is important that you go through the trash first and make sure no names are left on bills, mail, etc.

Each class teamed up into small groups of three-five students and they went through the trash bag (*please supply plastic gloves) as a team. Each team needed to record what they found and what they could infer from each piece of evidence. 

Each team collects their data and the inferences they have made based on the trash they have found. For example, my trash bag was full off fluffing and stuffing- the remains off my sofa after Brooklyn decided to 'dig' one day. Some classes thought the person with this trash must order a lot of things online, because they thought it was packaging and there was also a few JCrew catalogs in the bag as well.

Mrs. Svarda's lesson lasts for more than one week. I think it's up to you what to do from here. Here are two choices.

1) Each time presents their "trashy evidence" and makes an educated guess.
2) This is what Mrs. Svarda does- each team develops a Q and A to give the teachers. For example, if they find a movie ticket stub, one question they might create is "What was the last movie you saw?" They then spend their next class period visiting the teachers (spending two-three minutes with each teacher tops so it's not too much of a disturbance) and playing detective. Then they present their findings.

I love this lesson and I love the collaboration between peers. Not only are you sneaking in a little counseling PR with your peers and students, but it really shows your colleagues that you care about their lessons and that combined you can be a dynamite team in ending discrimination.

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