The Spark workshops are a series of 13 age-appropriate programs that focus on increasing knowledge, building empathy and self esteem, and developing critical thinking skills for K-12 students. Research has shown these four steps to be critical factors in reducing prejudice among children.
Kindergarten: Same & Different
This workshop introduces students to the concept that a person can be the same as them and different from them at the same time. Activities focus on some of the things that make people the same or different and demonstrate that differences can be wonderful and exciting.
Grade 1: We Are All Unique!
This workshop focuses on the concept of individual uniqueness. Activities concentrate on the uniqueness of the students and the diversity in their classroom.
Grade 2: Disability Awareness
This workshop aims to show students that people with disabilities may be different on the outside, but they are the same on the inside. It also gives students a chance to experience some of the challenges that people with disabilities may face.
Grade 3: My Banana
Students get to know an individual banana in an activity illustrating that once you get to know someone, they are no longer just “one of the bunch.” Students come to recognize that all people are unique individuals, and getting to know them breaks down stereotypes.
Grade 4: A Class Divided
Students watch a video about Jane Elliot's Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes experiment, in which she divided her class by eye color and allowed them to experience prejudice and discrimination from both sides. An activity with an apple shows how teasing and discrimination bruise the inside even when they don't show on the outside. Students are encouraged to think of ways to counteract this form of discrimination.
Grade 5: What Would You Do?
In a hidden camera experiment from 20/20, a group of white teenagers vandalizes a car in broad daylight. Later, the experiment is repeated with a group of black teenagers. The different responses from witnesses are truly eye opening as students discover that racism is still a reality in modern America. A game of "Diversity Jeopardy" reinforces the message.
Grade 6: Our Minnesota Heritage
"NorthStar" is a film that tells the stories of Minnesota's black pioneers. Students watch two of the segments, learning about Minnesota's diverse heritage and the power of the individual to stand up against prejudice.
Grade 7: Bullying
In another hidden camera experiment from 20/20, young actors are paid to bully each other in public. Students watch to see how passersby will respond and explore what they can do to stand up against bullying. The film is followed by a game of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" to reinforce what was learned.
Grade 8: Sizism and Body Image
In the opening exercise, students are shown pictures of four people, similar in every way except for body size and shape. They are asked to guess which person is most active, most popular, most influential. This activity and others open students' eyes to the many stereotypes associated with body size and to the profound prejudice and discrimination against those who do not measure up to our society's "ideal" body size.
A New Model
In 2008 the Diversity Council will be piloting a new model for diversity education in the high schools. Instead of presenting a set curriculum for each grade level, we will be working with schools to provide customized workshops that are relevant to their current needs.
Conduct a needs assessment at each high school, gathering input from teachers, administrators, and students.
Select from a menu of films, activities, and discussion guides to create workshops for each grade level addressing the areas of greatest need.
Train select teachers and staff members to lead continuing discussions as issues arise throughout the school year.
Workshops will be based on five critical subject areas:
- Gender & sexual orientation
- Socioeconomic status
Interested in licensing the Spark curriculum for your school district? Learn more
Interested in becoming a Spark facilitator? Fill out an application or call Education Director James Robertson for more information: 507-282-9951.