K-12 Anti-Bias Workshops
The Spark workshops are a series of 13 lessons that build respect for human difference among K-12 students.
These fun, interactive programs closely align with the aims and goals of Rochester Public Schools.
Spark is a partnership between the school district and the community. In our innovative model, trained community members representing the diversity of Olmsted County present workshops for every grade level at every school once a year.
As students progress through their education, they begin with basic concepts such as 'same & different' and move to challenging discussions of discrimination and respect in areas such as disability, race, body size, social class, gender and sexual orientation, and religion. Curriculum Overview
Current research describes what has to happen among children in order to create long-term behavioral change and reduce prejudice and discrimination.
The short-term outcomes of increasing knowledge, empathy, critical thinking skills, and self-esteem are linked to the long-term objectives of improving inter-group relations and reducing prejudice and discrimination. Our curriculum is designed to meet the four immediate objectives linked to prejudice reduction. Our goal is that students will:
- Understand and value human differences and similarities.
- Understand the unfairness of discrimination and the harm it causes.
- Learn to accept others who are perceived as different.
- Gain ability to interact respectfully with ALL people.
Develop thinking skills
- Understand own biases as well as those of others.
- Identify and challenge common fallacies.
- Build positive regard for self and group identity.
The Diversity Council currently has about 40 community members facilitating Spark workshops. About half of our facilitators identify themselves as a minority with regard to ethnic identity, religion, disability, or other factor.
All facilitators receive at least 30 hours of training plus observation and practice hours before being certified to offer Spark workshops.
The Spark program undergoes rigorous evaluation each year. After every workshop, teachers evaluate the curriculum for developmental appropriateness, how successfully it gets students involved, and how well it meets our objectives. Teachers also evaluate our facilitators on their skill in delivering the curriculum.
Teacher evaluations are supplemented by facilitator evaluations of each workshop.
The Diversity Council also partners with the school district to test a sample of students each year to determine what they are learning and remembering from the workshops.
The evaluation data is used each year to continually improve our curriculum.
Spark is available for licensing by school districts and community organizations. Details and pricing