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PHOTOS: English IV Students Use Virtual Reality to Better Understand Lived Experiences of Others

Each VR experience provides historical framework around the seniors' upcoming studies this semester.
Grade 12 students in the Upper School’s English IV: The Color Line course used the power of immersive technologies to better understand the experiences of those impacted by racial segregation.
The interdisciplinary lesson is being taught by Jamie Bunch, Makenna Henry and Angela Mackenzie. As part of the lesson, students participated in a VR experience—the first of several planned for the semester. Each experience provides historical framework around their upcoming studies of Harlem Renaissance literature. The experience this week was titled “MLK: Now is the Time” and immersed students among the more than 250,000-plus people attending the 1963 March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr.’s delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. In the following class, Ms. Henry lectured on the nature of empathy from a psychological perspective, culminating in a discussion of the limits and the power of empathy to tackle issues such as inequity.
Students also wrote a series of journal entries each night where they processed their experiences, self-reflected on their own life experiences and shared observations and understandings in small groups. Students in the class are currently reading W.E.B. Du Bois's classic, The Souls of Black Folks, published in 1903. The unit will culminate in students writing a series of letters to Mr. Du Bois, after which Mrs. Mackenzie will help students instruct ChatGBT to write letters back to them in his writing voice and style.
The virtual reality programming was one of the first activities in Ms. Bunch’s English IV senior seminar, one of several semester-long seminars that Upper School seniors choose from which examine a particular aspect of literature. English IV: The Color Line is studying the impactful writers, thinkers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance this semester.
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