Igniting Real-World Understanding in a 2020 Classroom - Horizon Academy

Igniting Real-World Understanding in a 2020 Classroom

Nov 04, 2020

Igniting Real-World Understanding in a 2020 Classroom

By Gabi Guillory-Welsh

On Halloween night, I saw an incredibly elaborate “2020 Dumpster Fire” costume, complete with dancing flames, graffiti, and two giant dumpster lids flapping in the breeze. While 2020 has been a memorable, stressful, and traumatic year due to a world-altering pandemic, political discord, and reckoning with racial injustice, there has never been a more crucial time to bring real life into the classroom. The world can seem like a scary place, but it is made far less scary when students are immersed in an educational environment that normalizes tough conversations and allows them to ask their individual questions. 

This year, my students have thoroughly discussed…

  • The Black Lives Matter protests
    • We’ve gotten to dig more deeply into America’s history of racial injustice to better understand the BLM activists.
    • Students have learned vocabulary like “equity” “race” “bias” “institutional racism” and “microaggression”.
    • They learned the complexities of a “protest” vs. a “rally” vs. a “riot.” 
    • Students are developing an understanding of the roles violence and nonviolence have historically played as tools of change.
  • The 2020 presidential election 
    • 5th and 6th graders are learning about a presidential campaign and everything that goes along with it, including word mapping to contextualize words like “elect, elector, electorate, and election.” 
    • Students are learning about today’s political parties and their platforms. They are engaged in political discussion using the dense vocabulary they’ve learned in the process.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic
    • They’ve learned about the science of mask-wearing to reduce the spread of illness.
    • Understanding the word “equity,” they’ve been able to learn how the virus has disproportionately affected people of color in the USA and start to uncover some of the reasons why. 

Our students have an incredible capacity to think deeply about their world, and they need to be challenged to do so. I regularly remind my students that if they continue to think hard and treat one another with respect in regard to each other’s different opinions, they will develop their leadership potential. The events of 2020 have certainly become a teacher’s source of rich content to build vocabulary, societal awareness, and critical thinking skills that will elevate students’ school abilities for years to come.