When Creighton School District teachers prepare lessons and student learning activities during National Hispanic Heritage Month, they access high-quality resources through their digital curriculum dashboard.
“We know that representation matters, and if we can have a team that works to create strong materials that represent our children, their families and their heritage, our teachers are going to be able to put together meaningful lessons that connect with the kids,” said Dr. Eric Dueppen, chief academic officer for the 138-year-old school district that serves about 5,400 pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students in the heart of central Phoenix
These teacher resources, which are a work in progress, are being developed as a result of a working group focusing on access, diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Through that group’s work it became very, very important to ensure that not only were we celebrating and honoring, but that we were also creating systems and tools that were easily accessible to our teachers and to our students that really allowed them to interact with deep, meaningful content, where they could see themselves represented, and they could learn about and grow a deeper understanding of the experiences of Hispanic people as well as others who reflect the diversity of our community,” Dr. Dueppen said.
Martha Hernandez, special projects coordinator for Innovation in the Arts and Sciences at Creighton School District, led the effort to create the Resources for Teaching about and Celebrating the Diversity of Our Community page with input from a team of teachers. Educators can easily access these resources on the Creighton Curriculum Dashboard, and the resources are highlighted in the Creighton Connection, a weekly e-newsletter staff members receive.
Resources for National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, are the most developed right now, but resources for National Native American Heritage Month in November, Black History Month in February and Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May will be coming soon, Hernandez said.
“We’re being very inclusive, and bringing more people in from the equity committee on how to support and bring those voices in,” Hernandez said.
What’s included in the resources
The resources include the Arizona Department of Education’s Resources to teach Black Indigenous People of Color History, primary source documents, access to the national archives in the Library of Congress, videos, documentaries and more from The Smithsonian, lesson plans, texts sets that can be adjusted to students’ reading levels, articles, units, videos, and interviews in Newsela, and learning activities that can be used in small groups or for the entire class and adjusted by grade level from Discovery Education and Education Northwest.
“The links that we’re providing in the page were very strategically chosen, because we wanted different documents, videos, and lesson plans that teachers can click on and dig deep into,” Hernandez said.
For example, Newsela allows a teacher to change an article’s Lexile to match a student’s reading level, but the content won’t change, “so we can still have rich conversations about the same article,” Hernandez said.
Discovery Education has a Hispanic Heritage page where educators can find a video, quiz, slideshow or other resources to use in their lesson or learning activity, Hernandez said.
These resources have been carefully examined, and educators are encouraged to use them throughout the school year.
“There is a culture of fear that exists among educators when they’re trying to figure out how to address issues of diversity and representation, especially given some of the recent legislation and the policies that are coming out around access to curriculum materials and libraries,” Dr. Dueppen said.
“We want to make sure that our teachers know and understand that we have a process for vetting instructional materials, and we’ve taken steps to ensure that these resources are not only appropriate for use with kids, but they’re actually excellent to use with children,” Dr. Dueppen said.
ASBA Video: ASBA Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month
Video by Jade Frazier/ ASBA
A teacher’s perspective
Teachers can “determine whether the resource is something that you can just push out to students” or if they need to modify it for their class, Ms. Giorgina Rizzo, a fifth grade English language arts teacher at Gateway School in Creighton School District.
“These resources are wonderful,” Rizzo said. “These resources are things that we can use with the reading standards or the literature standards or the speaking and listening standards.”
“We can implement them all year round,” Rizzo said. “They’re wonderful, they’re accessible, we can use them with iPads, or we can use them on paper.”
Rizzo said that she’s also using these resources with the art club she leads after school.
“We are creating bulletin boards around the school highlighting successful Latino individuals who have fought for our community. They’re politicians. They’re artists. They’re people who look like us, who have similar backgrounds as us,” Rizzo said. “We are creating art projects and biographies so that the students around the school can learn more about these individuals.”
“We are hoping that through doing this and creating these bulletin boards, people can be more exposed to successful Latino people from our community who have changed the world,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo said an art club discussion about artist Frida Kahlo “sparked a whole conversation about art and about disability.”
Having these conversations with students in a space to ask and answer questions honestly, and “let students do the research in a space in which they feel secure, and they feel supported is so important,” Rizzo said.
During class time, Rizzo’s fifth grade language arts students are spending some time researching individuals each week and how they support their community, last week they learned more about César Chavez.
“It was really cool for students to discover who he was and learn that he helped labor workers in Arizona in particular, because he was from Arizona,” Rizzo said.
Since this is the first year the resources have been available for educators, Hernandez said she’s like to highlight what teachers have done in their classrooms, what schools are doing and student outcomes on the resource page in the future.
“One of the things that I’m envisioning is bringing what is happening this month, like videos, lesson plans, the actual outcomes of how are we celebrating Hispanic Heritage because we’re celebrating within the community.
That way educators can build on “different ideas so we can really promote what is happening in Creighton School District,” Hernandez said.
“We’re always talking about how do we share our work,” Hernandez said.
“I would really like to see it grow into places to celebrate and showcase student work so students perform their poetry, students share their pieces of writing or their art or even their explorations of notable personalities throughout history or contemporary history,” Dr. Dueppen said.
“These resources, while they’re intended to ultimately impact children, what they’re also doing is informing all of us as educators about people that we didn’t know about, contributions that we haven’t seen and it really is helping to break down the barriers that exist that are kind of tied to our implicit bias,” Dr. Dueppen said.
“As we’re intentionally putting forward examples that celebrate and honor these remarkable human beings, I’m realizing how much it’s enriching all of us as a community of learners and that includes the adults,” Dr. Dueppen said.
“A curious teacher can ignite curiosity in their students. These resources ignite curiosity in our teachers,” Dr. Dueppen said.