Healing the Divide: Creating an Inclusive Classroom
By Amy Dobner, DePaul University and Facing History & Ourselves Collaboration Senior Fellow
The collaboration between DePaul University and Facing History and Ourselves has taught me to focus on creating an inclusive classroom that educates students on how to be informed. I have found that no matter the type of neighborhood I teach in or the age of my students, young people want to be aware of what’s going on in the world and how they can make a difference. Whether I am teaching about history or the present day, the strategies I’ve learned through the collaboration help me create an environment where students work together to confront issues that challenge us all.
For example, I incorporate Four Corners, Gallery Walks, and Give One, Get One into my curriculum. Last year I had a homeroom filled with wonderful students who struggled to come together as a class. At times it seemed like I would never get them to work cooperatively. I turned to strategies such as Four Corners, which started conversations between students who did not normally talk to each other. When doing Four Corners I usually start off with some fun questions (such as, Superman is the greatest super hero ever) to break the ice and get the conversation started. I then move onto more serious questions that spark livelier debates. Overall, these strategies helped build a stronger community in my classroom.
One of my main go-to strategies for creating generative conversations in the classroom is a 3-2-1 response while students are watching a video. If the video is fast paced I don’t want students to have to listen for specific answers. Instead I allow them to create their own impression of the video through the 3-2-1 chart. In addition, I have assigned a 3-2-1 along with an article for homework. This allows students to come prepared with ideas for an in-class discussion.
In my four years of teaching, I have worked in four different neighborhoods with a diverse range of students. While I have taught students from 11 to 18 years old, the concepts and teaching strategies I learned through the DePaul University and Facing History and Ourselves Collaboration have always been incredibly helpful.