• Teachable Moment


  • Portland Public School Educators,

    Our hope and expectation with this website is to provide the Portland Public Schools community with a starting place for age appropriate strategies and lessons that can support our continuous effort to offer a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students. The recent tragedies that occurred on February 14th at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, have yet again brought school violence and student safety to the forefront of national conversation. The events have also showcased an important and teachable moment for our students and community—the power that organized civil disobedience and direct action, often lead by students, can have on creating lasting social change.

    And while our current policies do not allow Portland Public School employees to encourage, sponsor or participate in a “walkout”, we can provide our students with guidance and support to express their views, opinions and possibilities for civic engagement on this issue within school buildings. One of our tasks as educators is fostering and promoting students’ critical thinking skills and having them apply these lessons and schools to relevant and real-world context.

    We recognize that many teachers in our district have been incorporating lessons that discuss such issues with students long before the tragic events which occurred in Parkland, Florida projected the issue onto the national agenda. However as an educator, please do not feel obligated to lead conversations you do not feel ready to have. But please don’t hesitate to reach out to your school building leadership for additional support and guidance.

    No student or school employee should ever feel unsafe when they walk into any classroom or office at Portland Public Schools. We will update this website and revise our resources based on feedback and resources submitted. With your support we will continue to do all we can to ensure that our schools are safe, welcoming and supportive for everyone.

    Thank you for all that you do.

    Dr. Yvonne Curtis
    Deputy Superintendent of Instruction and School Communities

     


  • Elementary School Student Support

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    Strategies

    • Try to keep classroom routines as normal as possible. Students gain security from the predictability of routine, including attending school.
    • Be as honest with students as you can and share with them as much information as they are developmentally able to handle. It is okay to keep explanations simple.
    • Ensure that you are leaving time and space to hear students’ fears and concerns.
    • Be sure to reaffirm and strengthen the relationships and bonds you have created with students and families.
    • Reassure to your students that they are safe and adults are there to protect them. Allow them to express their feelings through drawing, imaginative play, reflective journaling, etc.
    • Students at this age may need help separating reality from fantasy.

    Comments (-1)
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    Related Lesson Plans

    1. Collage of Concerns: This multi-day lesson from Teaching Tolerance offers a week long artwork combining various images to convey diversity or social justice issues, concerns or themes related to the central text.
    2. Persuasive Letters: Either as a class, individuals or in small groups write letters to local legislatures to call for action and change
    3. Students Making Their Voices Heard: Through this text set lesson from Newsela, students learn about ways their peers engage in civic action while supporting their own voices by writing letters to the editor expressing their opinion or making an argument.  (Support to access Newsela,PPS Teachers)
    4. Community Bulletin Board: Working together, students showcase artwork and nonfiction writing that can inform others about the importance of civic action. With students in 2nd grade and above share some of the Newsela text set at the appropriate grade and reading level.

    Comments (-1)
  • Middle School Student Support

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    Strategies

    • Students may have specific questions about what is being done to keep them safe. Discuss your school’s safety plan and answer questions.
    • Older children are more knowledgeable about bad things that can happen—so it’s crucial to focus on steps the teacher will take to keep them safe (and again, to stress that events are rare
    • Students may have consumed large quantities of media about school violence—some of it graphic. One of the most valuable things a teacher can do is to listen and help them sort out fears they bring up
    • Ideas for Student Civic Action in a Time of Social Uncertainty: A five-step process for giving students agency in taking on problems they see in their own communities and in the world — and learning to be responsible citizens along the way.

    Comments (-1)
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    Related Lesson Plans

    1. Safety In Schools: The Debate Over Guns & The Second Amendment: Newsela has assembled a complete Text Set (8 lesson plans) that includes articles that will help students inform themselves about the gun policy issues dominating today's headlines. They will also practice key skills such as evaluating arguments and determining the strength of evidence. (Support to access Newsela,PPS Teachers)
    2. Listen Up! PSA for Change: Utilize this lesson from Teaching Tolerance to offer students the opportunity to produce digital media to raise awareness and encourage change.
    3. After School Shooting, Students Take the Lead: In this activity provided by Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, students will hear the voices of the Parkland students, and consider the variety of ways they are trying to make change.
    4. Do Something: Help your students showcase their commitment towards civic action and competency through Teaching Tolerance’s variety of performance tasks.

    Comments (-1)
  • High School Student Support

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    Strategies

    • Students will be more vocal in their opinions and may have suggestions for changes to safety protocols the school should make.
    • Students should be included as an integral part of the process of keeping the school safe and remind them to report unsafe activity to administrators.
    • Students may have consumed large quantities of media about school violence—some of it graphic. One of the most valuable things a teacher can do is to listen and help them sort out fears they bring up.
    • Follow their lead. If a student seems unconcerned by the recent events, that’s okay. Support your student by saying, “If you have any questions or you start to have more feelings about this, you can come talk to me.”
    • Ideas for Student Civic Action in a Time of Social Uncertainty: A five-step process for giving students agency in taking on problems they see in their own communities and in the world — and learning to be responsible citizens along the way.

    Comments (-1)
  •  

    Related Lesson Plans

    1. Safety In Schools: The Debate Over Guns & The Second Amendment: Newsela has assembled a complete Text Set (8 lesson plans) that includes articles that will help students inform themselves about the gun policy issues dominating today's headlines. They will also practice key skills such as evaluating arguments and determining the strength of evidence. (Support to access Newsela,PPS Teachers)
    2. Listen Up! PSA for Change: Utilize this lesson from Teaching Tolerance to offer students the opportunity to produce digital media to raise awareness and encourage change.
    3. After School Shooting, Students Take the Lead: In this activity provided by Morningside Center for Teaching Social Responsibility, students will hear the voices of the Parkland students, and consider the variety of ways they are trying to make change.
    4. Do Something: Help your students showcase their commitment towards civic action and competency through Teaching Tolerance’s variety of performance tasks.

    Comments (-1)
  • School Building Leaders

    School Building Leaders should plan for a visible, school-wide event on March 14th to begin at 10 A.M. and last 17 minutes in honor of the 17 students and educators who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. For more support specifically for building administrators please find resources from COSA here

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    Supporting Staff

    • Talk with staff about intentionally approaching school discipline from a mindful inquiry lens.
    • Provide the time and space for staff to process what’s happening ahead of time and after the activities.
    • Should you have staff wanting to participate, they may do so with an approved absence just as they would with any other circumstance that would require them to miss work.

    Comments (-1)
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    Working with Students

    • Be open to, make space for, and provide support for student voices and student organizers and student influencers.
    • Have Counselors and Peer Counselors available before and after the activity.
    • Student who choose to walk out receive an unexcused absence - and should they choose to leave will not be chaperoned and will be responsible for their own safety.
    • If students do participate in a walk-out, please contact your OSP Senior Director immediately.

    Comments (-1)
  • Complete list of survey responses

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