Gunn High School in the Palo Alto Unified School District has held a Not In Our School campaign at their school for nearly a decade. The objective of the weeklong campaign is to “promote acceptance, awareness and identity within the PAUSD community” and “to help the Gunn community increase understanding and encourage discussion about the diversity and race relations Gunn.”
This year, Gunn High School’s Not In Our School week has the theme, “Striving to Embrace Our Differences.” Here’s how Gunn is planning its NIOS Week, which may provide a jumping off point for other schools.
Monday: We’re All in This Together
English & World Languages Departments
Teachers will be given a selection of videos or articles to share with their classes, and have a thoughtful discussion with their students about the contents. A lesson plan can be provided to teachers in order to help facilitate discussions in their classroom with debriefing the video.
Time Allotted: Teacher discretion (20-60 min)
Brunch/Lunch Activity: “We’re All in This Together” musical celebration on the Quad at lunch. Students will perform songs, poems, and music. The Student Executive Council will pass out buttons on the squad. The materials for Six Degrees of Separation—an activity where students will discover their connections between each other—will be distributed on the Quad. Wear your t-shirt.
Tuesday: Considering Our Differences
Science & P.E. Departments
Science: Students will consider differences between the genders, using the Considering Our Differences lesson plan and resources.
P.E.: Freshman P.E. classes will participate in a learning disability simulation activity. Students will go through a series of exercises/stations that simulate what it is like to have a learning disability. The empathy-building exercise is followed by a discussion led by facilitators or the teachers.
Time allotted: 15-20 minutes (science), full period (P.E.)
Wednesday: Considering Our Assets
Math and Special Ed Departments
Math: Freshman math students will reflect on their experiences of feeling like an outsider (a time when they felt as if they did not fit in) or a time when they felt like they were being judged unfairly. Students will write their experiences on a slip of paper, and those students that feel comfortable will have their experiences on display in the quad with the hope that students can realize that “they are not alone”. Lesson plans will be available for other math teachers.
Special Ed: Students will participate in a “What Would You Do” activity.
Time allotted: 10-20 minutes
Lunch activity: GSA will distribute Day of Silence materials on the quad. Wear last year’s Striving to Embrace Our Differences t-shirts. Six Degrees of Separation slips are due.
Thursday: Day of Silence
The National Day of Silence is a student-led event intended to raise awareness to the silencing that several LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) students feel due to fear from name-calling, bullying and harassment that often times occurs in schools. The GSA and their allies apologize for any inconvenience that their silence may cause on classroom discussions and activities this day. Teachers will be notified ahead of time of students who are participating in the Day of Silence.
Friday: Striving to Embrace Our Differences
Social Studies Department
Dissolving Stereotypes Activity: Students will be asked to write a stereotype on a piece of rice paper that they would like to see stopped. The piece of rice paper will be placed into the pool of water to watch it dissolve. Over the course of the day, the water should show the number of stereotypes that were dissolved today through the various colors in the water. See video and activity guide.
Lunch Activity: Youth Community Service Club will host the dissolving stereotypes activity on the quad for those students that were not able to participate during their classes.
Other cool stuff throughout the week
Annual NIOS art contest at the library:
The art contest is a way for students to show their understanding of Not in Our Schools week and the theme of acceptance and striving to embrace our differences that we are incorporating. Students submit their work to the art department and the teachers hang the pieces that qualify in the school library so that they can be judged. Judges will choose the best pieces of art based on a specific rubric and those prizes will be awarded during a reception at the end of the week.