This fall, the Boston, Cambridge, and Springfield Public Schools will be rolling out the new Children Discovering Justice civics curriculum across their districts to help elementary students learn about the complex issues of justice and fairness.
The curriculum guides civic-minded students and teachers through lessons of culturally responsive and interactive activities. For example, the “Needs Before Wants” activity provides opportunities for students to identify equitable solutions to serve the needs of others in various picture scenarios.
Each unit focuses on the topic of justice through a grade level focus. Kindergarten focuses on rules and community, first graders explore voting and leadership, and second graders learn about justice and the environment.
“I observed a group of kindergarten students that were so concerned and passionate about establishing fair classroom rules,” said Victoria Suri, Discovering Justice’s K-5 Curriculum Developer. “These students are building a strong foundation to apply this learning to their broader community and world.”
Over the past year, Discovering Justice staff worked with educators across the Commonwealth to pilot the program. Feedback from educators strengthened the curriculum ensuring that it met the needs of districts and the students. Learn more and explore the curriculum by visiting the organization’s website.
Discovering Justice Education Staff also offers professional learning and development sessions to prepare educators to discuss the issues of justice and fairness with the Commonwealth’s youngest learners. These trainings inform educators on the tools and resources available in the curriculum and provide best practices for leading civil discourse in the classroom.
Discovering Justice has also begun working with teachers to pilot the Grade 3 curriculum which will focus on indigenous justice. Guest speakers will share their perspectives through video interviews for students to understand indigenous justice movements that continue today. Grade 4 curriculum focused on immigration and Grade 5 based on freedom of speech and civil rights will follow.
The K-2 curriculum is “open source” and is free for all Massachusetts school districts to use. Staff is in discussion with representatives from Brookline, Lexington, Norwood, Burlington, and Plymouth Public Schools to discuss implementation of the curriculum in the coming year.