Pollyanna Racial Literacy Curriculum
We are very excited to announce the launch of Pollyanna’s K-8 Racial Literacy Curriculum. It has been in the development stage since summer 2018 and the team working on it has been creative, dedicated and diligent. Led by curriculum specialist and former teacher Monique Vogelsang, the Curriculum is designed to help students gain knowledge about race as it has been constructed in the United States. Please register to gain access to this free curriculum.
Pollyanna Curriculum Summary
Pollyanna’s Racial Literacy Curriculum for Grades K-8 is designed to help students gain knowledge about race as it has been constructed in the United States, and aims to help students acquire an awareness of their own racial socialization and skills for engaging in productive conversations about race and racism. Both fiction and nonfiction texts––such as picture books, primary sources, historical articles, current events––and other forms of media are incorporated throughout the curriculum to serve as talking points for classroom dialogue and to widen students’ cultural lens. For younger students, lessons may take place during read-aloud or small group instructional periods, and for older students, lessons may be implemented during elective or advisory periods, and may also support humanities courses. Grade-level goals will continue to increase in complexity, for instance:
- To encourage kindness, bravery, and empathy when exploring and better understanding the cultural and racial diversity of local and global communities.
- To develop more inclusive and positive perspective of self, others, and the larger world in regard to race, ethnicity, and culture.
- To analyze history and other social assertions that fabricate myths of innate racial superiority, in order to dispel myopic, discriminatory perspectives of race.
- To analyze race as a primary institution of the United States.
- To critique the biological fallacy of race, while simultaneously unpacking its social truths.
The underlying goal of the curriculum is to build bridges and connections––for all students to recognize similarities among their peers along lines of race, while also celebrating perceived differences. We hope to plant seeds that will encourage and enhance racial literacy, geographical awareness, and cultural competence both in the classroom and throughout one’s life.
The Physical World Around Us – A Celebration of (Skin) Colors
We are Part of a Larger Community – Encouraging Kindness, Social Awareness, and Empathy
Diversity Around the World – How Geography and Our Daily Lives Connect Us
Stories of Activism – How One Voice Can Change a Community (and Bridge the World)
How Immigration Shaped the Racial and Cultural Landscape of the United States –– The Persecution, Resistance, and Contributions of Immigrants
Stories of Race and Racial Identities Throughout U.S. History – The Danger of a Single Story
What is Race? – How Science, Society, and the Media Conceptualize Race
Race as a Primary Institution of the United States – How We May Combat Systemic Inequalities
Curriculum Objectives by Grade Level
UNIT 1 : THE PHYSICAL WORLD AROUND US
To develop an awareness of our physical environment and how we assign labels for the visual, physical world: a celebration of the colors and shapes around us.
Picture books will be used as a primary method to launch discussions about how we assign labels for the visual world. As children learn to see and describe the physical world, an understanding of colors and shapes –– central topics of kindergarten curriculum –– will be reinforced.
UNIT 2 : CELEBRATION OF SKIN COLOR
To develop a positive image and awareness of self and others. To recognize the similarities and celebrate the differences of our physical selves. To identify and celebrate our skin colors.
Continuing the discussion and expansion of color knowledge, picture books will be used as a primary method for launching discussions about the way we assign labels for the visual world, including our own skin color. A particular focus will be given to shaping student’s positive portrayal of self and others in regard to skin color, as well as developing vocabulary and confidence when speaking about identity.
UNIT 1 : STRENGTHENING OUR COMMUNITY – ENCOURAGING KINDNESS, FRIENDSHIP, TEAMWORK AND ACCEPTANCE
To establish a sense of community –– knowing that our actions affect ourselves and others. To encourage positive contributions to group dynamics and the overall classroom environment. To build communication and social skills; to enhance social-emotional awareness. To discuss and intrinsically encourage kindness, as well as love and acceptance of self and others. To strengthen the ability to be a good friend, classmate, and teammate. To recognize similarities and celebrate differences.
Because students are developing an awareness of self, class discussions and activities will focus on developing a positive sense of self, as well as a positive view of others. The importance of teamwork and community will be central themes of this unit, such as examining the roles we play in larger groups and the impact we can have on the wellbeing of those in the classroom, as well as the larger community beyond the classroom walls.
UNIT 2 : UNIT 2 : WE ARE A PART OF A LARGER COMMUNITY – A CELEBRATION OF OUR NAMES, FAMILIES AND HOLIDAYS
To develop a positive image and awareness of self and others. To understand the difference between wants and needs. To find ways to connect to others, through an exploration of names, families, and daily routines of children around the world. To connect to others by recognizing similarities and celebrating differences.
This unit begins with an exploration of self (names and family) in an effort to develop a positive awareness of self and a personal sense of pride. To plant seeds of global citizenship, the curriculum will move into an exploration of children around the world, and how despite differences –– perhaps in name, family structure, food, language, culture, race or skin color, etc. –– we also share similarities, with the binding force of humanity being love, or our capacity for respect, kindness, and acceptance.
UNIT : DIVERSITY AROUND THE WORLD – HOW GEOGRAPHY AND OUR DAILY LIVES CONNECT US
To enhance global and cultural awareness. To improve geography skills by introducing students to various countries, cultures, religions, and real life (nonfiction) perspectives from around the world. To find ways to connect to others, through an exploration of daily routines, housing, and food. To understand how geography may shape culture and vice versa. To identify primary and secondary sources; to understand the difference between fiction and nonfiction. To connect to others by recognizing similarities and celebrating differences. To develop an inclusive, multicultural and/or racially informed point of view.
Nonfiction texts drive an in-depth study of geography, which will couple an exploration of cultures around the world. By investigating housing, clothing, and food, students will understand the interconnectedness of how our physical space shapes us and vice versa. A science and social studies lens will be applied to begin to understand the concept of how “culture” emerged, as well as ethnicity and race. The goal is for students to become more inclusive while widening their global awareness and growing perspectives.
UNIT : STORIES OF ACTIVISM – HOW ONE VOICE CAN CHANGE A COMMUNITY (AND BRIDGE THE WORLD)
To explore the importance of being kind, to begin to distinguish behaviors that are nice versus kind. To learn about ways to show kindness to others, and how to build a community based on acceptance. To learn and practice ways to connect with people of different racial, cultural, and other social identities, in the context of friendship and an acceptancing community. To continue to recognize similarities and celebrate differences. To become familiar with stories of people who made a positive impact on the world through advocacy and peaceful tactics. To understand the guiding principles of civil rights movements, such as nonviolence and civil disobedience. To explore the power of sharing one’s voice for advocacy, growth, and for overcoming racial (and other forms of) prejudice, as well as bridging cross-cultural communities.
Different stories from around the world will be featured, focusing on voices of people who have felt different, “othered,” and/or discriminated against and the various ways such people––both “everyday” heroes and famous figures––have responded to their situations. By reading these stories, students will unpack concepts of agency, individual and collective empowerment, as well as personally relevant and applicable ideas like fairness and friendship. Classroom dialogue will center around sophisticated topics like discrimination –– including racial segregation and integration –– and the counter concept, one where students discuss ways of cultivating acceptance and building/bridging a diverse community. Through an exploration of a multitude of voices, students will understand and analyze the power of an action and/or voice, both “big and small,” and how we can be agents of communal, social, political and environmental change.
UNIT : THE DEVELOPMENT OF CULTURE AND CIVILIZATION – HOW GEOGRAPHY GAVE SOME POPULATIONS A HEAD START (DISPELLING MYTHS OF RACIAL SUPERIORITY)
To understand how geography impacts and shapes culture, and conversely, how humans can impact or shape the environment. To correlate farming to the formation of civilization. To discover and connect the relationship between the emergence of ancient civilizations to geographic advantage. To expand geographical and scientific knowledge, such as land formations, bodies of water, as well as minerals, plants, and animals. To explore the various cultural contributions made by ancient civilizations. To understand the development of culture. To understand the difference between needs and wants. To learn to view the story of history with a critical lens. To dismantle a Eurocentric view of history, which favors a concept of “inherent victors and losers.” To understand that humans – even if from different cultures and races –– are inherently similar. To learn that differences in military strength is a result of geographical advantage, not intellect or heroic bravery. To expand one’s perspective of history, to include a more holistic and informed view that dismantles stereotypes based on false ideas of inequality. To understand the roots on inequality in the modern, post-colonial world.
The goal of this unit is for students to understand that geography influenced the creation and spread of human inventions. Humans are the only animals to build vast civilizations, and geography provided or denied the ingredients and factors that led to developing the first sedentary or more permanent civilizations. Students will better understand the world’s first ancient cultures by exploring the various engineering, technological, scientific, and mathematical contributions of these civilizations, tracing cross-cultural patterns. By comparing civilizations, students will develop a more informed and eclectic worldview, enhancing their own cultural competency. A goal is for students to realize that humans (of a given time and similar “place”) created similar structures and/or inherited ideas to establish a common pattern that was dictated by geography. With such a lens, students will be able to analyze history and other social assertions that fabricate myths or superiority, or a natural hierarchy and innate ability, including being able to critique and dispel Eurocentric points of view that favor a myopic view of race.
UNIT : HOW IMMIGRATION SHAPED THE RACIAL AND CULTURAL LANDSCAPE OF THE UNITED STATES – THE PERSECUTION, RESISTANCE, AND CONTRIBUTIONS OF IMMIGRANTS
To understand how immigration has shaped the racial, ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic landscape of the United States. To explore the cultural contributions of immigrants. To compare and contrast immigration experiences across race, ethnicity, and nation of origin. To understand that while racial groups do not have a monolithic experience, legal and social codes were enacted to give some racial groups either a greater sense of privilege or a more subjugated and/or enslaved experience. To understand that not all immigrants arrived by choice. To comprehend the scale, legacy, and inhumane nature of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, as well as its enduring ramifications in society –– domestically and globally. To compare and contrast Ellis Island to Angel Island. To analyze how race was constructed in the U.S., such as the formation of a racial hierarchy and the one drop rule of hypodescent. To review Supreme Court Cases and other laws that established racial segregation as legal precedent. To understand that, despite racist or prejudiced systems, a multitude of peoples contributed to the social and cultural fabric of the Americas. To examine instances of assimilation, exclusion and persecution of immigrants, as well as individual and collective efforts of resistance and persistence of those who survived and dared to thrive.
Through the use of primary and secondary sources, students will analyze the push and pull factors of immigration, including forced enslavement, and the enduring cultural legacy of such immigrants. With the underlying concept that “all of us are immigrants,” the unit will begin by exploring an overview of immigration, followed by the contributions of Native Americans, the first known peoples to inhabit the Americas. Students will continue to explore and analyze the history of movement to the U.S. in a mostly chronological order. Analyzing racist ideology, students will better understand the current social realities and intended plight of some communities. A goal is for students to develop a sense of empathy, respect, and pride by studying the lives and contributions of people of color and white allies who despite adversity, managed to survive and even thrive. In summary, a balanced approach has been carefully crafted –– one that aims to dispel the myth of racial meritocracy while also honoring the positive contributions of people who comprise the United States.
UNIT : STORIES OF RACE AND RACIAL IDENTITIES THROUGHOUT U.S. HISTORY – THE DANGER OF A SINGLE STORY
T o develop an understanding of the history of several different racial, cultural, national, and ethnic groups in the United States –– including similarities, differences, overlaps, or connections. To dismantle a Eurocentric perspective on U.S history. To understand the history of the U.S. Census and its racial categorizations, including how they have shifted over time and why. To consider various perspectives of racial identities and experiences. To avoid and critique racial stereotypes. To better understand the intersections of identities. To develop a set of tools and texts to critically examine media representations and texts, and to reflect on and express one’s own identities.
This sixth grade unit builds upon the fifth grade unit, which introduces the history of race in the U.S. Since students are now more familiar with the historical aspects of racial construction, they should be better equipped to analyze race as it continues to morph and present itself in current society. Exposed to a multitude of voices and experiences, students should have a more informed, diversified view of race, and better understand their own racial socialization so they may hopefully cultivate their own growing sense of identity.
UNIT : WHAT IS RACE? HOW SCIENCE, SOCIETY, AND THE MEDIA CONCEPTUALIZE RACE
To develop a deeper understanding of what race is and how it is constructed and mapped onto all of us. To understand the history of race in the sciences and pseudo-sciences, including eugenics and other racist and exploitative “scientific” practices or alleged findings as well as scientific developments that debunked prior, racist conclusions. To develop a vocabulary to discuss various racial identities and experiences in the United States, including multiracial identities. To understand more nuanced aspects of racialized experiences –– including microaggressions and implicit bias. To enhance one’s understanding about the conflicts and beauty of race and racial identities. To analyze society and the media’s representations of various racial identities and experiences.
This seventh grade unit will cover essential questions, the most prominent: What is Race? An exploration of how race is viewed or “defined” by science and pseudo-science will be explored, as well as the social experiences of various individuals and pan-racial communities. Students will examine the relationship between historical events and current outcomes. A media analysis will follow, which will explore the ways race has been constructed in the past, continues to be defined today, and the role students think race will have in our increasingly multicultural, multiracial future.
UNIT : RACE AS A PRIMARY INSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES – HOW WE MAY COMBAT SYSTEMATIC INEQUALITIES
To develop a deeper understanding of race as an institution and race within various institutions throughout U.S. history to the present day. To explore and analyze current issues of systemic racism (i.e. the prison industrial complex; inequity in education, housing, health care, etc.) and the various ways organizers and activists are fighting for social justice. To set commitments for the future, both toward developing students’ individual racial identities and ways students may continue contributing to anti-racist activism, education, and advocacy in their communities and everyday lives.
The eighth grade unit will explore race as a primary institution in the United States. Lessons will encourage students to consider and think about their own agency and responsibilities. In groups, students will explore different categories and aspects of systematic racism. A culminating exercise will support students in setting commitments to further racial and social justice efforts for self and others.