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Elementary school principal creates new periodic table with Black influential figures

Lessons to teach kids about Black culture
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Posted at 5:51 PM, Feb 21, 2022

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Students at Dawson Elementary school are reading about impactful Black figures through a fun activity in the library their principal, Kimberly Ellis calls, 'Blind Book Date'.

"Essentially the students select a book. Not aware of what the actual book is. Outside of the book there is a hint or clue written about either who the book is about or the story or the theme of that story maybe," said principal Kimberly Ellis.

Monday was the first day the students were able to select a book not based on the cover but on a clue.

"I didn't know what to expect. Like I didn't now if it was going to be like a really good like basketball athlete," said 5th grader Mario Vargas.

"Very exciting because you don't know what it is and then you open it and you'll be very excited to see what it is," said 5th Grader Shanielle Baxter.

Digital Extra: Shanielle Baxter on The Story of Ruby Bridges

Students can also receive points from their books, which go towards their accelerated reading goal. Accelerated Reading, or AR, is a tool to help students achieve their best potential in reading.

"They're held accountable for what are your takeaways from that book because they have to take that quick assessment on it as well," said Ellis.

"It's a balance between, we want them to choose and read what they want but we want them to explore new topics," said Librarian Laura Baxter.

The learning doesn't stop there. Another fun and modern activity for the students is the periodic table of Black history. Students can take their phone, scan a QR code on the table and learn all about these influential figures.

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"It is categorized by different black inventors, Black authors, Black activists, Black athletes, Black entrepreneurs; its color coded and categorized," said Ellis.

"Yellow is athletes, so for example, Kobe Bryant, we have LeBron James, Michael Jordan," said Vargas pointing at the periodic table.

"Whoopi Goldberg is an award winning comedian, actress, and human rights advocate," said Baxter as she read the article on her phone.

Digital Extra: Shanielle Baxter on Gabby Douglas

Ellis said Black history should be celebrated every day.

"But Black history is something that lives within our culture and the diversity in our students and we will continue to celebrate and acknowledge throughout the year," said Ellis.

Ellis said her staff has been acknowledging different cultures throughout the school year to engage their students.

Digital extra: Shanielle Baxter thanks Dawson principal Kimberly Ellis