This year, a door decorating activity to celebrate the Black Lives Matter movement is reenergizing Black History Month in the Primary School. Adding door decorations to the mix of class activities has been a powerful experience for many sparking new connections and conversations both inside and outside of classrooms.
April Greene, co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee says the idea was a way to display and honor social justice activists and people in the African American community, including lesser-known individuals who have made a difference. Some doors honor an individual, a collection of ideas, or revolve around a theme such as notable African American educators, scientists, and even nurses. Fifth Grade Teacher Cordenia Paige says the doors help students see that “they can be changemakers and activists. It’s reachable, even when they are young.”
Teachers, staff, and students alike have thrown themselves into the celebratory spirit of the door decorating activity. Third graders’ interest piqued after a read-aloud activity highlighted five notable African American inventors. Each student in Kathie and Laurie’s class researched and wrote a paragraph about an African American inventor of their choice to display on the door next to a Black Lives Matter poster that they also illustrated.
The Black Lives Matters doors have brought joy and given a space for reflection. Fifth grade teacher Brian Stark used the activity as an opportunity to challenge his students—to move beyond the surface of the Black Lives Matter movement and gain a more nuanced perspective. His class read the 13 principles of the movement and then created word clouds to visually represent ideas that resonated with them. Brian was surprised that his students were so deeply engaged in the project and “making the same connections and meanings as adults do.”