2021 Institute Scholars' Projects

Jami Beck

Teacher Jami Beck designed a 2nd grade lesson plan on I Talk Like A River by Jordan Scott and illustrated by Sydney Smith. Jami found lots of resources online for using this book. On one site, the book is read aloud (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAoiRX_ez1Y). On another site the author and illustrator talk about their collaboration (https://youtu.be/pIaxeEUgNow). Jami also found a teacher's guide for the book at https://holidayhouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/I_Talk_Like_a_River_Educators_Guide.pdf.

When Jami returned to school in September, she taught lessons about I Talk Like A River and followed up with multiple literacy lesson, including haiku and acrostics, and she incorporated SEL activities.

Teacher Jami Beck design of a 2nd grade lesson plan
Teacher Jami Beck designed a 2nd grade lesson plan on
I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott and illustrated by Sydney Smith

Connie Biewald

Teacher Connie Biewald created a lesson plan for a unit on realistic fiction about characters with disabilities. She writes, "this is a very rough draft of a fifth/sixth grade literature unit. I'm still trying to figure out some overarching lessons and guiding questions."

Jocelyn Chiu

Teacher Jocelyn Chiu says this Identity Iceberg is a great launching point for students. Jocelyn is always looking to expand the beginning of the year identity and SEL work. She loves the iceberg. Jocelyn also designed a lesson on disability in the Colonial Era. Her goal is to have students think about the identities and intersectionality of people with disabilities during the time period by being "history detectives."

Above the Water Line

Jeffrey Cipriani

Jeffrey Cipriani designed two lesson plans and supporting documents that introduce two Disney Pixar "short" films the encourage students to identify the challenges, turning points, and resolutions in their narrative structures with an overall goal of nudging students toward developing an understanding and appreciation of the social model of disability.

Maria Falgoust

Maria Falgoust created a slideshow to share with PreK-5th grade teachers. Her goal is to motivate them to learn more about disability and identity and incorporate disability and identity into their units of inquiry.

Patricia Hannon

Teacher Patricia Hannon was stationed in the military in Germany during the 2021 Institute. She created a CARE poster for teachers to use when choosing children's literature with diversity themes.

Teacher Patricia Hannon created a CARE Poster
Teacher Patricia Hannon created a CARE poster for
teacher choosing children's literature

Alicia Leonard

Teacher Alicia Leonard says that her original plan was to update her beginning of the year presentation for classrooms involving one of her special education students so her students could have more of a voice. She later found that she needed to focus more on the new kindergarten student coming to her program. She wants to educate the classmates. Alicia says, "This still needs some tweaking, but here is what I have so far."

Jesse Neuman

Jesse Neuman's lesson surrounds the various ways that Disability Identity meets other social identities. Jesse says his Prezi is a little temperamental but you can navigate/screenshot/download, etc., on your own.

Jordan Palefsky

Librarian Jordan Palesfsky created a lesson plan for use with Sonia Sotomayor's book Just Ask. She writes, "I am an assistant librarian for PreK-4th grade. When I read this book to a third grade class, a student verbally reflected on his excitement that a character has his learning disability. It also led to great conversation about other disabilities, tools people might use with their disability (e.g., hearing aids, ASL, wheelchair, insulin injection).

Peter Tresnan

Visual artist Peter Tresnan created an art project focusing on the body, identity, and disability. Peter says, "I am exploring how bodies are represented in visual art, and how they show attitudes toward disability. I want to keep my work open, to invite students to bring unique perspectives to the discussion, while honoring the legacy of disabled artists.

Elisabeth (Lis) Wood

Elisabeth (Lis) Wood photo
Elisabeth (Lis) Wood
Teacher, World History,
Sociology, Asian History

Here are some of the wonderful things we've been doing in my classes because of the Institute.  In my sociology class we are just beginning our unit on disability, a unit I didn't even have last year. Already my students are deeply interested. They want to know why they've never heard about the disability rights movement, who gains from disabled people being excluded, and why disability can exist in one setting but not another. I originally planned on only doing a week on this and they are already asking for more. 

I've been much more up front with my students about my own disabilities and the challenges they have presented in school, but also how much it informs my identity, something I wasn't fully aware of until the institute.

I want to express how personally life changing the experience was. I have been struggling for months now to try to write you and explain the impact it had on me, but I've realized that I probably won't be able to summarize the difference adequately. Please know that being able to point to my life experiences, how my brain and body work (and don't work), and how society at large has erased or displaced much of myself has been transformative. The way I teach has changed because the way I see myself has changed, so much for the better.