I wanted my sixth graders to be involved at even a minimal level in this election for several reasons. Foremost was that their families tend to NOT be involved in decisions that effect them. I even received notes from several parents telling me they don’t know enough about the issues to discuss them with their child, but they didn’t want them to receive a poor grade because of that.
On the first day of the project we spent time talking about why elections are important. Then we talked about what issues presidents might influence or want to influence. “My little brother is a pain, make him go away” OR “Make a law that allows us to chew gum at school,” OR “Pizza for lunch every day!” were discussed as not issues presidents get involved in. Next we brainstormed issues that were important to them and I was really impressed with what they came up with: Immigration, food prices, the war in Iraq, more jobs, gas prices, more parks (closer skateboard park), mortgage problem (which they asked me to explain), homelessness and more.
The next day for homework they were to ask their parents what issues and concerns help them decide who to vote for … I impressed on them this WAS NOT about WHO their parents would vote for, but what issues were important. The list we produced yesterday and the discussions and questions that went along with that was really much better than I expected.
So today we will re-visit the discussion for a few minutes and then students are to pick the issues most important to them and write to the candidates about them.
Below is from our class blog explaining our latest writing project.
What are the issues that are important to YOU that you want the next president to do something about? We brainstormed and discussed what issues concern us and asked our parents about what issues concern them (without asking who they are voting for, just what issues concern them the most). Then we revisited our list, answered questions and clarified what the issues were about. Next we each thought about which issues are most important.
Now your job is to write a post expressing your concerns to the presidential candidates. Explain what each of your important issues are, why they are important to you and why they should be important to the next president.
Be persuasive enough and maybe you’ll have some influence on the decisions the next president makes!
Learning is messy!