Diversity in Mr. Marvin's Classroom

A threefold approach to inclusion

At the beginning of the year, students were welcomed into a room that is decorated in a colorful but neutral way- bright blocks of color cover the boards and walls. As the year goes on, a number of projects have a visual component, and student work is proudly displayed. Additionally, students work to customize their folders and are encouraged to use whatever school-appropriate name or nickname they are most comfortable with, regardless of what it says on the roster. There is a large bookshelf full of diverse literature available in the reading area.

One of the largest assignments of the first semester was asking students to choose a social injustice rooted in inequality about which are passionate, and write an essay using the Aristotelian argument structure. The focus of the paper was to argue for one specific, implementable change that could address a part of that inequality. After students completed their research and paper writing, they presented to their peers in a Monroe Motivated Sequence speech structure regarding small changes we can all make to address extant inequalities. This gave students an opportunity to tell personal anecdotes and advocate for issues that are personally important to them.

In addition to allowing students to personalize their classroom and their work, they were often asked to work collaboratively in ways that recognized the various strengths and growth areas. Additionally, students in the aforementioned speech were allowed to design a poll question for the class. Not only did this give them an idea of their classmates’ collective familiarity or experience with the topic on which they were speaking, this allowed the students to use the data they gathered in the speech itself, to highlight the diversity within our classroom.