The future impact in ISD
March 19, 2021
When it comes to the district’s approach to making historical lessons more inclusive and diverse, updating historical curricula is the first step.
“I’m excited about a group of middle school social studies teachers who are working with a company called EduCuriosity to create new Washington state history curricula with different narratives,” Mellish said.
There is not a timeline currently set for these new history lesson plans, but it’s progress to expand the historical perspectives that students learn about in schools.
As for updating English curricula, the district is also trying to adopt new lesson plans to diversify reading while still maintaining the necessary literary content for students. The plan? Book clubs.
“Book clubs are a new unit in every high school English class where students have a menu of books to choose from with an array of narratives, diverse characters, and authors,” Mellish said.
This will give students more of a choice in what they read and discuss in their English classes while also helping expand representation further than the Core 9 books.
“We didn’t just primarily focus on race,” Mellish said. “We’re working to include the immigrant experience, the LGBTQIA+ experience, the experience of differently-abled people, and the experience of people of different socioeconomic statuses.”
These books are set to become options for ISD book clubs once administering them becomes easier for teachers amidst the pandemic.
The district is not the only force working to update literature though. Two student-led organizations–the ISD Student Equity Council and Diversify Your Narrative ISD–have spearheaded student activity demanding diverse reading. Diversify Your Narrative ISD is on Instagram spreading awareness and petitioning the district to continue integrating diverse works into curricula. Similarly, the ISD Student Equity Council works in-depth with students, encouraging them to start projects to help this mission.
“Currently, the ISD Student Equity Council is doing a multi-affinity group project Book Drive, providing dozens of books from groups including Students of Color, LGBTQ+, and Mental Health and Illness,” Equity Club member sophomore Naomi Hancock said.
Based on both district adaptations and student work, it is clear that ISD is prioritizing working to diversify school literature–a goal that will continue to be a community effort.
“There is always room for improvement and the work to diversify is never done; it’s a continuing, ongoing process that each teacher must explore on their own to ensure that each class is inclusive and representative of minority voices,” King said.