Diversity in DC

Ms. Swift's Biology Classroom

Physical Environment

In my classroom, which I only actually teach three of my five classes in, I have a two different displays that I have put up with the intention of making a diverse group of students feel included and safe in my classroom. The first one is a poster I have of various famous scientists and their birth years. I feel that this poster helps students remember that very different people, from various walks of life and ages, have all helped contribute to the science we now take for granted. I like that the poster includes Marie Curie, although I do wish it had more strong female scientists.

The second visual I have in my classroom, which has been a work-in-progress all year, is a "Current Events in Science" bulletin board. Once every few weeks (with varying success thus far), I try to post new articles or news blurbs about exciting and varied findings in science. With this, I have been able to highlight the range of scientists, as well as fields, trying to focus on topics my students are interested in.

Diversity Through Curriculum Planning

I have implemented a year-long research project (in 13 small increments) in my classes this year. Every couple of weeks my students need to find a new article, either a news or peer reviewed science article, that incorporates personal interest with the concepts we are learning in class. The final result is an article analysis that includes a summary as well as detailed connections to class.

So far this year, I have received an analyses ranging from explaining why camel milk is such a lucrative business (related to biomes) to a detailed description of how rats present altruism even with extra familial individuals.

This is an assignment I really like because while being a highly scaffolded literacy exercise it still allows the flexibility for my students to highlight their personal interests in my classroom, as well as discover how diverse the scientific field can be.

Relating to Students

One of the things that has struck me over the last few months are the social delineations in my school. My students come from predominantly two middle schools, with other middle and charter schools scattered in as well. Given that, from day one it seemed as if all my students already knew each other, or about each other.

One of the biggest struggles I have had, given I do not already know the intricate relationships they may have with each other, has been coming up with seating charts and groups that will be functional and productive. In some of my classes, it comes down to breaking up cliques, while in others it is about more of a gender balance - getting the group of girls and the group of boys to work with each other.

The more open I am with my students, from discussion bands to favorite camping spots in West Virginia, the easier I find it to work with my students. I get to know their quirks while they are getting to know mine, and that alone helps reinforce how much I enjoy teaching them.

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