Tuesday, November 18, 2008

red, white and blue

Sometimes I think the best lessons happen when we can take what is happening "out there" and relate it to what's happening "in here." You know, connect what is happening in the news with our own small lives.

As a teacher, when learning is authentic, the students really grasp the concept a whole lot better. It takes a lot more planning and the vision to be able to see things from the students point of view; to wrap your head around the way they perceive it. It can be frustrating to try to see something from the point of view of a seven year old, but if I ask a lot of questions, I can usually do it.

Well, the biggest thing that in the news lately was the election, and I wanted to cover the election with the fifth graders without really getting into the differences between Obama and McCain. Kids that age don't have much of a view point of their own on elections; they normally just channel what they hear at home. So I decided to have the students nominate people from their own classes to run for president and have the other students act as the electors from the states.

Each fifth grade class nominated two students (and they were all girls, I must tell you) and they had a week to run a campaign. They had to make campaign promises, advertise, and give a brief speech.

I built a voting booth and found a ballot box, and we voted. I counted the ballots and announced the winners. I took pictures of each candidate and I made a bulletin board with their pictures. They loved seeing themselves on the board and the pictures turned out great.

It made for an interesting lesson, and I think the kids really enjoyed learning about the electoral college (which can be complex) and elections. I think it really hit home for them that people they nominated needed to be people that were good leaders. I expected the kids to nominate a few of the popular kids, but in each case I was so proud that the classes nominated good students who were nice to everyone. It was a great moment for fifth graders that they could separate who was a good leader from who was their friend. I was proud.


Anonymous said...

What a fun way to learn. I love when teachers go the extra mile to teach. The kids learn so much more this way. Hands on learning beats textbook learning any day. Your school is lucky to have you.
:) Brandi

Bird, Frizzy and Our Little Yaya said...

I agree with Strawberry blonde. I lived in the Show Me State of MO. However, I can honestly say showing me doesn't teach me. Having me do something hands on is what helps me understand the process so I can and want to do it again later.

Belle (from Life of a...) said...

Good for you for making the learning so relevant. Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships...that's what it's all about.