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Students Share Work that Matters with an Authentic Audience

Celebrations of Learning

Students, teachers, family members, and community members celebrate learning at the culminating event for the seventh-grade "Small Acts of Courage" learning expedition at King Middle School in Portland, ME. Teachers Caitlin LeClair and Karen MacDonald describe how they design celebrations to ensure that all students experience success.

This video accompanies the book Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools through Student-Engaged Assessment.


But you’re from Arkansas.

- I am.

- And I grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina.

- [Woman] Hi.

- Good morning.

- Hello, and thank you so much for coming. In Windsor Seven, we’ve been working on an expedition called Small Acts of Courage. This expedition focuses on the Civil Rights Movement in the United States and the local community members whose small acts needed to be captured for all to read.

- Today we just finished our culminating event for our expedition, Small Acts of Courage. This is an expedition that focused on the Civil Rights Movement and we studied the Civil Rights Movement and major events in the movement and then students interviewed local citizens who participated in some way or had some connection to the Civil Rights Movement.

- Our presentation today is dedicated to our interviewees. We thank you for your time and we thank you for your stories.

- Today as part of our culminating event, we presented our work to parents but most importantly, to the interviewees so that they could see the work that the students completed in their oral history collection and they could hear the words that the students as they paid tribute to their interviewees.

- Ida Marie Gamon Wilson, Small Acts of Courage, contributed greatly to the Civil Rights Movement.

- In college, she joined students practicing for the Nashville sit-ins. They practiced how they would handle segregation at the lunch counter. They also practiced ways to stay nonviolent.

- Ida was a part of the Nashville sit-ins and also helped other students get a diploma by taking their places in their classes and helping them study if they missed opportunities to get information.

- Throughout the sit-ins, Ida courageously worked behind the scenes to keep students in school and on the front lines of the integration effort. Ida remains active in Civil Rights today, as well as gay and women’s rights. She is a great inspiration. ♪ I’m gonna sit at the welcome table ♪

- I think this expedition works because first of all, the content is extremely compelling for students. Their experience with the interviewees creates an emotional connection to the content that they cannot get in the classroom and really motivates them to work hard to write their stories and to present their work to their interviewees.

- Julia Adams is a selfless woman who accomplished a lot in her lifetime. During her senior year, she befriended Josephine Boyd, the only African American student in the newly integrated school.

- She went over to Josephine Boyd and asked her to sit with her and her friends at lunch. This was an act of kindness that would change both of their lives forever.

- Taking a courageous stand has had an impact on Julia’s life. One day, a woman with a baseball bat was looking for her at school because she felt Julia shouldn’t be helping Josephine.

- Years later, Greensboro High School honored Josephine for being the first black student to integrate the school and at the ceremony, Julia Adams gave a speech. Even today, Julia Adams can be found helping others.

- We want to set every student up for success. So we had a rubric involved. I taught kids how to stand correctly. We talked about eye contact, volume, speaking slowly and clearly, and we practiced those skills in my classroom. There also was rehearsing where we took the students through the process of what would happen at the culminating event and it all felt very familiar to them today.

- Windsor Seven is honored to present our four-volume collection of oral histories related to the Civil Rights Movement to the African American Collection of Maine. Thank you for supporting us throughout this project.

- Sometimes it’s not possible to get every student in front of an audience, so it’s important to build in some structure where students can celebrate their work and share their work with a significant adult and we often find a reception after the event really works well for this.

- You know, it is really wonderful to find that something small that you did has an impact on the next generation.

- It felt good to do it. Her story was important because she helped Josephine Boyd become the first African American to integrate Greensboro High School and her story needed to be heard.

- Culminating events are a time when every student’s work is celebrated, where every student has the opportunity to be a part of their individual success and the group success.

- It was an honor, I guess, to be able to present her story to her and show her how much she actually affected people.

- [Mrs. LeClair] And to have their work appreciated and to share that with the community and to realize their work is a part of something much bigger.

- Textbooks are often behind the times. They do not reflect how we are and where we’ve come from and where we’ve come to. And this kind of presentation by these young people, I think would be just an absolute wonderful experience for everybody to have because we are making some strides in this nation.

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EL Education

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