Equity and Access Newsletter

Elementary Edition December 2018

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How Do We Teach Our Students About The Holidays

We know that many children base their impressions of the holidays on what they know culturally. As we endeavor to instill a strong sense of community and diversity in our children, we can use holidays to teach history, the foundational values of our community, and deepen our understanding of ourselves and others.

Ask yourself what one thing many of the winter holidays have in common? The answer is light. The stories of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and even Chinese New Year contain things like stars, fireworks, lamps, candles, and fire. During the winter season of darkness, a savior, optimism, and knowledge are all symbolized by light amid the gloom.

Many holidays include the tradition of light, and you can use this to begin a discussion on what they have in common:

  • Christmas: tells of the Star of Bethlehem that led the Three Kings with their gifts to the infant Jesus.
  • Hanukkah: is the story the oil burning in the menorah for eight days even though there was only enough oil for one.
  • Kwanzaa: many of the stories associated with Kwanzaa concerns Anansi the spider, his six sons and how the moon came to appear in the sky.
  • Chinese New Year: stories for this ancient holiday are about fire and firecrackers being used to ward off Nian the dragon, and to this day lamps and fireworks feature heavily in the celebrations.

Educators sometimes focus on the winter holidays, but you can teach about the holidays all year. Starting with the harvest and the holidays of Halloween and Diwali and ending with the rituals of Passover, Easter, and May Day.

It is clear that holidays can be used to explore how people of diverse backgrounds share similar values. Values such as thankfulness, caring for others, peace, and forgiveness. It is essential to teach about holidays and to reflect on our community values. Most importantly, teaching children about the holidays guides them into lifelong learning and into thoughtfully and reflectively celebrating their holiday traditions within our diverse society.

Siegel, Peter. “Teaching About the Holidays in Public Schools.” Edutopia, George Lucas Educational Foundation, www.edutopia.org/article/teaching-holidays-public-schools-peter-siegel.

Book of the Month

Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story by Albert Whitman is the story of seven brothers who live in an African village. The seven brothers fought with each other continually. One day their father dies and leaves them an unusual will. The will states that the brothers must make gold out of seven spools of thread or become beggars.

Using the Nguzo Saba,( the seven principles of Kwanzaa) the author has created an unforgettable story that shows how family members can pull together, for their good and the good of the entire community.

Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story can be found in Springfield Public School Libraries

The Seven Skills of Conscious Disciple

Conscious Discipline Is the gift that keeps on giving? The seven skills of Conscious Discipline are from the foundation of the Seven Powers for Conscious Adults. These seven skills teach you to respond to conflict in ways that help children move from resistant, to the more cooperative, higher centers of the brain. Likewise, they are our opportunities to teach children the social-emotional and communication skills necessary to manage themselves, resolve conflict, prevent bullying and develop pro-social behaviors.

The seven skills are Composure, Encouragement, Assertiveness, Choices, Empathy, Positive Intent and Consequences.

By using these powers and skills together, we can learn to stay in control of ourselves and in charge of the students we teach. This control, in conjunction with the support of the School Family, empowers children to learn and utilize this lifelong skill successfully. These skills not only apply to the classroom but can also be useful to parents.

Conscious Discipline. (2018). Seven Skills - Conscious Discipline. [online] Available at: https://consciousdiscipline.com/methodology/seven-skills/ [Accessed 15 Nov. 2018].

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Did You Know?

Ways to Relax During Winter Break

Days off and breaks during the school year help educators recharge and catch up on work before they return to school. But it is essential that you take time for a little R&R. Even though you might have papers to grade or lessons to plan, it's necessary for you to make time for yourself during breaks. Many times we feel like we don't have time to take a break, but it is vitally important to remember that taking time to rest, relax, and renew your mind will help you maintain your energy and keep a positive attitude throughout the school year.

Here are a few ways you can rest and relax during your time off from school from Kaplan Early Learning Company:

  • Take time to eat a good breakfast. Usually, school mornings mean a quick and easy breakfast for most educators, so during break abandon the breakfast bars and cereal for a more filling breakfast that you can sit down and enjoy.
  • Go outside and enjoy the sunshine. Educators, more than likely spend the majority of each day indoors, so use your break as an opportunity to get outside and soak up some sun, take a walk and enjoy being outdoors.
  • Have lunch with a friend. Treat yourself to lunch with a friend or two during the break. It is fantastic to step away from grading papers or doing housework and take an opportunity to relax.
  • Take an exercise class or do a fun physical activity. Attend a yoga class or get some friends together and go on a hike. Dancing is also fun and easy to do on your days off.
  • Write in a journal or listen to soothing music before you go to bed each night. During the break catch up on your sleep or at least get a good night's sleep. Write down what's on your mind in a journal or listening to soothing music.
  • Enjoy time with your family. Spend time doing fun family activities.
  • Take time to be creative. Enjoy your favorite hobby or an art class, and give yourself time to be creative. Simply be whimsical which is a great stress reliever.
  • Set aside some time just for you. Read a book, sip your favorite tea or beverage. If you have children, try to set aside some time for yourself early in the morning or late at night when they are In bed.

“Finding Ways to Rest and Relax During School Breaks.” Meeting Children's Social-Emotional Needs | Kaplan Early Learning Company, www.kaplanco.com/ii/finding-ways-to-rest-relax-during-school-breaks.

Coming Events

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Join Us For The Ujima Holiday Celebration

Place: Campbell Early Childhood Center ( A change of location)

506 S. Grant Avenue

Date: December 12, 2018

Time: 6:00-7:30 p.m.

Martin Luther King Jr. Art Contest

Dear Teachers –

Your schools are invited to participate in an art contest tied to the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday in January 2019. This contest is being co-sponsored by the offices of the NAACP, SPS Diversity and Inclusion, SPS Community Partnerships, and SPS Fine Arts. You and your student’s participation in this contest are voluntary. However, we hope to have entries from all SPS Schools!

Contest details:

Theme: Reigniting the Dream (This is also the theme for the march and rally on January 21, 2019).

The number of entries: Each school may submit as many entries as they would like.

Specifications: All artwork submitted should be on 8 ½ x 11 plain white paper. The student's name, classroom teacher and art teachers names, grade and school should be listed on the back. Any text on the artwork needs to be dark, and we recommend using bold colors and outlining designs in sharpie when appropriate. Submitted artwork should be“print ready.”

Deadline to submit entries: Entries should be submitted to Breana Kavanaugh at KAC no later than Friday, December 21, 2018. Entries received after this deadline will not be considered.

Contest winners: Winning entries will be chosen and notified no later than January 4th. Winning artists will be recognized at a Board of Education meeting and the MLK March and Rally on January 21st at the Gillioz Theatre.

Thank you so much for considering this wonderful opportunity! We can’t wait to see what your students create!

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