← Conversations

“This Is My Body”: Planning Rigorous, Relevant, and Accessible Humanities Curriculum Through an African-American Lens

Session 3
Michael Bolton, Steven Humes, Charlie McGeehan, Samuel Reed, U School students — The U School, Opera Philadelphia

For the 3rd year, the Humanities team at The U School is planning common curriculum to be taught across the school. This year, our work is centered around Philadelphia’s mandated African-American history course. This year’s course consists of six thematic units, with short introductory and reflective units at the beginning and end of the year.

To start the 2017-18 school year, U School Humanities educators used inspiration from Opera Philadelphia’s “We Shall Not Be Moved” to create an introductory unit for our Humanities: African-American Lens course. We began by exploring the historical context for the opera, including and considering ways in which history can intersect with our modern lives. Using models from the opera, U School students wrote their own “This Is My Body” argumentative poems.

In this session, U School educators and partners from Opera Philadelphia will share the process they used for planning this curriculum, and U School students will share their work and reflections on the first half of our course.

By reflecting on our inquiry from one specific unit, we will share the process we use for designing all of our units. On our Humanities team, we design around several major principles: learning that is connected to students’ lives, interests, and experiences, rich engagement with social justice topics, rigorous, competency-based assessment, and a design approach to solving real-world problems.

Conversational Practice

Student work and experiences will be the foundation of this conversation. We will use a text rendering process to unpack pieces of student poetry.

After unpacking student poetry, we will have participants create found poems from the student “This is My Body” poems to sum up their takeaways from this session. Participants will then share their poetry with the group, and with the students who wrote the original poetry.

At the end of this session, educators will consider how they can encourage students at all levels and school settings to do critical, introspective and connected work in their own classrooms.

Conversation Links

Presenter Profiles

Samuel Reed III
Samuel Reed III
U School / Philadelphia Writing Project
Charlie McGeehan
Charlie McGeehan
The U School


JSON feed