School SEL lesson features elementary students writing poetry focused on racial identities


A lesson plan targeted for grades K-5 titled “Sharing Our Colors: Writing Poetry,” which is the third lesson in the series called “The Different Colors of Beauty,” states that the goal of the lesson is to “help students develop their racial or ethnic identities.”

A concerned parent from Lakeside Elementary, which is part of the East Grand Rapids School District, has expressed concern with the school’s social and emotional learning curriculum. Lakeside’s use of the Second Step Elementary Classroom Kit features lessons from the controversial organization Learning For Justice.

The lesson features essential questions such as “How does our personal sense of identity relate (or not relate) to our skin color, race and sense of beauty?”

The framework for the lesson explains that “race, skin color and beauty are complicated concepts to understand cognitively.” It continues by stating that the lesson helps children “develop their skills for poetic expression while working toward a more intricate and productive understanding of race, racial identity and their own concept of beauty.”

As part of the activities associated with the lesson, teachers explain to students that “identity” is “how we think about our skin color and our race.” It also instructs students to list five to six words that describe their race or skin color.