Davis street, South African students collaborate on Civil rights history
New Haven Independent. Staff. December 04, 2019.
The following article and photos came in from Davis Waltrina Kirkland-Mullins’ third grade students from the Davis Academy for Arts and Design Innovation let their academic light shine at the Harvard University Center for African Studies Association forum recently held in Cambridge, Mass.

At the Nov. 23 event, Kirkland-Mullins’ Shining Stars showcased their Google Slide presentations created last year highlighting research they had conducted on South African culture and the history of apartheid.

Program participants —  and enthusiastic parents who accompanied Kirkland-Mullins to the university venue —  were in awe of the children’s knowledge of the subject matter.

The presentation was the result of their teacher’s involvement in the Gilder Lehrman Center’s Transatlantic Histories Program through Yale University.

Through the transcontinental program, Kirkland-Mullins and her students this past academic year collaborated with South African Regents Park Primary School instructor Mary Khuduge.

Together, the educators developed lesson plans to demonstrate similarities between the fight for civil rights experienced in the U.S. and South Africa during the Jim Crow and Apartheid eras.

Khuduge, whose sixth-grade students studied the 1950s through 1970s-era fight for civil rights in the U.S., joined Kirkland-Mullins and her students at the forum via Skype.

“The children were on point and once again have taken me over the moon,” Khuduge exclaimed, elated with the young presenters’ proficiency in South African history, education religion, and culture.

In addition to sharing their Team Research projects, the students performed a women’s protest dance entitled “Siyaya,” sang the South African National anthem in Xhosa, and concluded their session with Hugh Maskela’s song of cultural pride and respect, “Ibala Lami” — along with a sampling of Bobotie, a traditional South African dish.

“The collaborative work of Kirkland-Mullins and Khuduge, coupled with their students’ diligent effort and enthusiasm regarding the overall learning experience, convey that such subjects can be effectively taught in the younger grades,” noted Transatlantic Histories Program Director Thomas Thurston.

The students’ presentation served as a poignant example of the fine work that has grown from the Gilder-Lehrman initiative and international partnership.

The Davis third-grade students were initially introduced to the South Africa unit study in January 2019. The class studied the Civil Rights Era within the United States and its impact on American society.  During this period,South African counterpart Khuduge and her students were studying the fight for civil rights in South Africa during the Apartheid era.  The classes exchanged information, comparing and contrasting similarities and differences in the countries’ respective, shared histories.

From mid-March through month-end May, the Davis students dug deeper into our course of study.  Their challenge:  to complete a performance task project in the form of the Team Google Slide presentation.  Using an inquiry-based learning approach, the children devised topics and questions they wanted to explore regarding South African culture.  They read differentiated reading resources that included books, publications, and on-line resources—several of which were provided by Khuduge. The class engaged in online video sessions with the South African students.  Student team members engaged in discussion on an ongoing basis. The Davis students took notes, gathered information, pictorial images, recorded notes, and more, collaboratively developing their presentations.  Upon completion of their projects, each respective team presented their Google Slide creations before classroom peers and invited guests.

Kirkland-Mullins and Khuduge will replicate the collaborative study with their current third and sixth-grade students beginning in January through June 2020.

Meanwhile, the Davis students from last year’s program, now in fourth grade, wanted to continue their collaboration with Mary Khuduge and her students. So they and Kirkland-Mullins continue the work through a South Africa PM after-school program.

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