Natalia Anciso has been part of TWAICB since 2011. First, as a participant in our 3-day Institute to learn about the UDHR and TWAICB curriculum, Natalia then became part of our Institute presenting team. Natalia has offered her visual arts talents and expertise to provide participants their own experience of using visual arts to express their ideas about the UDHR. Since 2016, Natalia has been teaching in the San Lorenzo Unified School District, one year teaching Kindergarten, and now in her second year teaching second grade. Natalia has brought elements of TWAICB curriculum to her Kindergarten and second grade classes. She has presented examples of how teaching about UDHR principles and using the different warm-up and dramatic play activities in our curriculum have supported a high level of social emotional learning, increased engagement in academic learning and heightened thinking about the communities connected to the students.
The following are a few examples of how Natalia has included TWAICB curriculum in her classroom:
- Natalia begins the school year with discussions about human rights, explaining the existence of the UDHR, as well as the U.S. Bill of Rights. She then has her students develop their Classroom Rights and Responsibilities, as shown here for her 2017-18 2nd grade class. This listing is displayed prominently and referenced to help address situations that arise in connection with respecting or disrespecting these rights and responsibilities;
- The breathing exercises outlined in TWAICB Curriculum are used daily to encourage focus and relaxation. Natalia presents the students illustrations of the brain and the workings of each part of the brain, so that they understand how their breathing and stretching exercises help them;
- To help teach the meanings of words for reading and writing skills, Natalia has students create dramatic tableaus of various words, so that the physical movement involved in depicting the words helps students grasp their meaning;
- Movement activities are used to help students grasp such concepts as what a straight line looks like and doesn’t look like, or how to depict addition and subtraction, with students grouped as numbers that move to reflect such math operations as what 2 + 2 looks like;
- The theater game Zip, Zap, Zop is used to not only encourage focus and eye-to-eye contact, but also to reinforce learning of topics such as plants, where the students replace Zip, Zap, Zop with plant terms like leaves, roots and stems.
Seeing the positive results of using art, play and human rights concepts to deepen learning, nurture community connection and engaged class participation, Natalia and Damion Mitchell, the teacher of the other 2nd grade class at Grant School, developed and presented this past August, a 2-day Professional Development Workshop for the San Lorenzo Unified School District, titled “Equity and Access Through the Arts and Science.” (https://www.instagram.com/p/BmhjT4NhQri/?utm_source=ig_twitter_share&igshid=1x2r50x812dml)
In this Workshop, Natalia and Damion helped demonstrate the following by using art and play activities to teach a science lesson on flowers:
- Including art and play offers greater equity for all students, as all students can participate in these types of activities, rather than only using books which could be limiting to students with language issues;
- Creative arts activities help build empathy, as they connect the emotional parts of the brain with the cognitive side.
Natalia also presented information about the UDHR, and noted the following:
- Knowing about the UDHR and the importance of respecting each other’s rights and responsibilities helps students feel safe and connected as a community.
We look forward to updating our curriculum with more detailed documentation of how to teach about UDHR concepts in the elementary grades to deepen learning of academic subjects, enhance social-emotional learning, and encourage community connection.