Fair Housing for the Classroom
Writing to Right Wrongs
Writing to Right Wrongs (WRW) started in 2017 as a joint project between the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan (FHCWM) and The Diatribe, a local artist’s collaborative focused on helping youth find their voices and cope with challenges. It is an interactive, fair housing and social justice-themed program for the purpose of enriching high school students and their families’ understanding of civil rights and the impact where one lives has on how one lives, while cultivating the students’ creative writing and public speaking skills. The nine week program fits well with high school English and American History curriculum among others. Each session is led by two Diatribe artists and at least one FHCWM staff member and is split between content delivery and application of that content in the form of discussion, exercises, writing prompts, and sharing.
The curriculum includes interactive presentations, simulation experiences, live spoken word performances by the artists as well as the students, graded participation, and community exploration. Through these components students have the opportunity to explore what fair housing means to them and in what ways they can get involved in their community, all while developing speaking and writing skills through the rich and inclusive culture of spoken word. The poetry and creative components are designed to provide students the opportunity to create their own art and share their voice, as well as further their speaking and writing skill sets. The program’s goal is to combine fair housing focused civil rights content and the spoken word to empower high school students with a better understanding of their rights and the importance of place as well as how to use their creative voice in positive ways to express themselves and impact their community.
The WRW program has continued to grow, having been delivered in classrooms in Union High School, C.A. Frost High School, and Ottawa Hills High School (GRPS), Godfrey-Lee Public Schools East Lee Campus, and Godwin Heights High School. Check out previous student performances here.
The Fair Housing Five & the Haunted House
We are excited to offer this unique learning opportunity for interested 1st through 4th grade classes in order to promote better awareness of fair housing rights and the importance of equal housing opportunity. The Fair Housing Five & the Haunted House is an illustrated children's book that tells the story of five children that take action in response to a landlord who is discriminating in their neighborhood. The Center offers two different curricula based on the book to students and teachers based on the grades involved. During each session, one staff member reads the story aloud. After the reading, staff faciliate an age-appropriate discussion on the themes and ideas presented in the book. The 1st through 3rd grade students have an opportunity to talk about the value of being able to choose where you live. Students then participate in an activity about housing choice in which they are given 6 housing options to talk about and color. Students in 4th and 5th grades discuss the meaning of discrimination and how it feels following a reading of the book. Each student takes part in a classroom activity on discrimination, where they write and illustrate what discrimination means to them on a one-page handout which is then assembled into a book for the classroom. In both workshops, each student and teacher receives a copy of the book, a bookmark, and a brochure on familial-based fair housing rights to keep.
A Pig Is Moving In! Creating Welcoming Communities
The FHCWM developed a curriculum specifically for 2nd through 3rd grade students adapted from the book, A Pig is Moving In! by Claudia Fries to highlight the importance of welcoming communities. Some of the specific topics discussed in the book and presentation include how to be welcoming, making assumptions about people different from us, and the impact this has on individuals, schools, and communities. At the end of the reading the Center's staff lead a discussion on welcoming and communities followed by an activity. Each student receives an apartment building on a large piece of paper and a sheet with four animals representing the characters in the book. Each student has the opportunity to color, cut out, and “move” the characters into their new homes. The students are also able to move themselves in as a neighbor! Students then write answers to the prompt, “How can you be kind and welcoming to other people?” Each teacher received a copy of the book for the classroom.
Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and his Service Dog
The FHCWM developed a cirriculum specifically for 1st through 2nd grade students adapted from the book, Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond between a Soldier and his Service Dog by Fmr. Captain Luis Carlos Montalvan to explain to students the role and importance of assistance animals for those living with disabilities. The book raises awareness of fair housing rights for those with disbilities, assistance animals and how they help people with disabilities live more independently! After the reading, FHCWM staff lead a discussion with students on how Luis's assistance animal, Tuesday, helps him everyday. Each student has the opportunity to participate in an activity that mimics difficulties that some people experience through their disability, such as hearing. Each student in placed in a group or are paired up to take turns communicating to each other while wearing ear plugs. Each student is then given activity sheets with Luis and Tuesday on them to take home and share.
Housing Choice Game
The Housing Choice Game demonstrates the impact of housing discrimination by showing ways in which where a person lives affects how they live by expanding or limiting the educational, employment, healthcare, economic, and recreational opportunities they have access to. Through this multi-part workshop, students experience first-hand the impact of housing discrimination and the importance of housing choice. This workshop is appropriate for students in grades 5 and 6. The workshop can be done in one day or held over a few sessions.
The book and game were developed by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center. They have graciously shared the curriculum with us so we can bring these great learning opportunities to west Michigan.
If you are interested in this program please call the Fair Housing Center at (616) 451-2980 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.