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Pleasant Hill Community School
Inspiring Learning

Students recognized for anti-racist learning with Living in Harmony award

March 30, 2022

Living in Harmony 540x420.jpgSharing perspectives on racism that grew out of a class assignment on expository writing and podcast creation resulted in three Pleasant Hill School students receiving a City of Saskatoon Living in Harmony Award.

Brooklyn Dreger, Geordie Laliberte, and Travis Bird based their podcast on the topic of anti-racism that had been part of classroom discussions about anti-racist vocabulary, Black History Month, and Indigenous sovereignty.

Their message was recognized as Best Elementary Submission in the annual awards presented to recognize contributions to the elimination of racial discrimination in the community.

During the three-minute podcast, the trio shared perspective on learning about, embracing, and respecting the culture of others. They discuss the importance of listening to the voices of people of colour on social media, instead of those with racist or exclusionary views.

"It would be important to end racism to make more people feel accepted and not discriminated against," the students say in the podcast. "Teachers and families have to step in and help the racism stop. They need to have discussions in class about how we shouldn't be racist or bully others because of different skin colours, nations, and cultures."

Their work as co-creators and the opportunity to voice their thoughts for a wider audience to hear resonated with the students.

"It felt great and was fun making it; a new experience," Geordie said. "It was a little embarrassing hearing my voice at first but better that people hear the impact of what's happening in our community."

Travis said sharing the perspective of youth is one way to help others learn. Brooklyn said it was important to share the message with friends and classmates. Their learning and discussion made her look at the topic in a new way.

"Hearing my friends talk about it made me realize how much racism is in the world," she said.

The podcast project for students in the Grade 7/8 class aligns with the school's Following Their Voices initiative. which supports learning interactions that are responsive to student interests and needs and provides avenues for sharing knowledge and elevating student voice. The work of teachers Meguan Oksasikewiyin, Jemahl Manning, Tahnee Gentles, and Kirsten Cavanaugh supported students during the process.

The class had the opportunity to co-construct their learning activities and assessments. Students brainstormed topics, including anti-racism, then debriefed within extended huddle groups and developed individually.

"After students co-created the rubric, they began composing a script. Students were given examples of expository and narrative writing to guide the process. This group chose an expository approach to inform and used an interview-type format to share their experiences," Cavanaugh explained.

"Once they felt the script had all the elements of the rubric, they began practicing their parts," Oksasikewiyin said. "The students had many ideas to share and were deeply invested in the content. They were able to easily brainstorm examples from their own experiences and personal lives and work together to propose actions. It took them numerous attempts to get the podcast right with all of the sounds effects and were proud of their final product."

Sharing information through a podcast format allowed all of the students to connect their learning with their individual experiences and ways in which they consume information as students are familiar with the podcast format from their own listening experience. Given the option, students welcome an oral assignment as it allows them to use a more dynamic and stylistic approach to express themselves.