|Above: Banbury Heights students Maddie and Fatema pose with the books they reviewed during Black History Month.|
THURSDAY, MAR. 4, 2022
ith a carefully curated reading list focused on stories of courage and change, and a goal to empower students to learn, lead and inspire during Black History Month, educator Katy Hager’s grade 6/7 class at Banbury Heights School took a tech-forward approach to equity and inclusion.
“As students finished reading a book, they wrote summaries and reviews and then recorded those reviews using an online voice recording app called REV,” explained Hager. “They then created QR codes with a code generator app on classroom laptops and uploaded their recorded book reviews. We printed the QR codes and displayed them in the hall and in our classroom for other students to scan and listen to their peers’ reviews.”
"The lessons I learned throughout Black History Month about systematic racism have helped me to see the changes that can be made in our society."
Adding the technology component to tradition book reviews meant students could share and access content in a new, engaging way, and also meant the learning became school-wide to inspire others to pick up a book focused on Black history – not just in February but throughout the year. It also allowed students to be exposed multiple voices and perspectives by learning from each other, instead of focusing on a singular work.
“Throughout Black History Month, I learned about countless trailblazers and their stories that inspired me through their bravery, perseverance, and willingness to create change,” said student Maddie, who reviewed Trailblazers by Tiyahna Ridley-Padmore. “These retellings made me realize how important inclusion is and how everyone should be equal.”
To add to the learning – or unlearning – the class created displays using materials from unlearn to generate discussion around issues of systemic racism and how to affect meaningful change in systems of oppression.
“One of my favourite books I read during Black History Month that inspired me is Henry’s Freedom Box. He was willing to do almost anything to escape slavery, and was desperate for his freedom,” said student Fatema, of Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine. “The lessons I learned throughout Black History Month about systematic racism have helped me to see the changes that can be made in our society.”
Grand Erie’s multi-year strategic plan includes the mission to build a culture of learning, well-being and belonging to inspire each learner, and efforts such as this go far to realizing those collective goals.
“We had a wonderful month of learning and discovery, and a lot of important conversations resulted,” added Hager. “My class is so proud of their work this month and we look forward to continuing to elevate everyone’s voices as we look at important issues through an equity lens.”