Wikipedia defines politics as a term generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the corporate, academic, and religious segments of society. It consists of “social relations involving authority or power” and to the methods and tactics used to formulate and apply policy.
Though I can sort through the definition, the reality of this definition and what our students are seeing played out on media outlets across the globe can leave anyone a bit bewildered. So, what do we do?
If we dig deeper, we’d realize that politics is derived from the Greek word politikos meaning “of, for, or relating to citizens” It’s all about citizenship. How we individually and collaboratively work together to make positive change for our community. What a wonderful opportunity we have as educators to spend time talking to students about ‘politics that matter’ aka what they can do as productive citizens in their community and possibly make a difference in their world.
I had the privilege of watching a few of these types of discussions unfold across the nation through one of DEN’s newest projects DEN Connects. Last month, students across the nation joined together for a thematic unit on citizenship featuring mini lessons on pledging allegiance, creating constitutions, and honoring a citizen in their community. Classes joined together virtually to discuss these topics and created VoiceThreads to share their thoughts with the world.
Here’s what a few of our participants had to say.
Monday morning I started the day off the day with my students as we always do. We recited the Pledge of Allegiance. I asked my students, “What is a pledge?” My second grade students did not know how to answer this question.
Thanks to DEN Connects I knew exactly how to teach my students about the Pledge of Allegiance. My students have been dancing all week to the song What Does the Pledge Mean? After that, we posted our pledge to the Voice Thread website. The next day we were amazed to see teachers and students from around the county posting comments and reciting their pledges. Finally, my class connected with a class in Grand Rapids, Michigan to Skype and share our classroom pledges. Thanks to the DEN Summer Institute, I am connected to teachers all over the county. The DEN makes sharing learning experiences easy
Jan Abernethy (http://jabernethy.com/)
The activities we participated in were ones that are crucial to creating a community at the beginning of the year. In addition, it gave me the chance to introduce Discovery in a different way other than the place we watch videos, find experiments, etc. In other words, instead of consuming Discovery, my students were able to create for Discovery. This was very empowering and has already set the tone for a global classroom.
Our class wrote hopes and dreams for the upcoming school year. After sharing them with each other, they knew that their hopes and dreams could not come true and their community could not function without some basic rules. After much collaboration, they came up with four simple rules. Right after this activity, the DEN Connects Activity to create a pledge was introduced. The students tore apart the pledge of allegiance and studied the vocabulary. They came back together, tweaked it a bit, and came up with what they thought was a fitting pledge for them. Students came up with the idea to create a class flag. They suggested that every morning after saying the pledge to the American flag, they could also say their pledge to their flag
Here’s an example of two of our VoiceThreads for the month
Special thanks to all participating classes for teaching their students the most important part of politics… being productive citizens.
To review our lessons on Citizenship visit DEN Connects September Citizenship
This month DEN Connects is focused on Habitats… join us at www.denconnects.com
To learn more about how you can be involved contact Jannita_Demian@discovery.com