In 2nd grade, Parker students advance their study of written composition in several possible ways, using a writer’s workshop model to focus on the integral process of revision, considering author studies as craft models or connecting reading with writing in a specific genre. However, at Parker our tremendous teachers realize that each lesson is also an avenue to learn about our larger community.
A perfect example of this at the end of last year was Brittney Washington’s 2nd grade students work during writer’s workshop. Second Graders began a unit on persuasive letter writing and brainstormed ideas of who to write letters to, what issues/topic they wanted to see changed and what the students wanted to persuade them to agree. Some students wanted to ask the cafeteria to have class-favorite muffins as a regular snack item, some wanted to convince a teacher to get a class pet and others wanted more recess time. However, Kingsley Shephard announced that “he is going to be an activist and is very passionate about social justice topics and always getting others to recognize that they need to stand up for what is right,” Washington shared. From there, he decided he wanted to write a persuasive letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot “asking for her to look closely at the crime that’s happening in Chicago, the need for more opportunities for Black people and the need for justice in our city.” Much to Shephard’s delight, he received a letter from Mayor Lightfoot!
“Moments and experiences like this are why I teach” Washington said! “I want my students to know that even at seven and eight years old, they can use their voices to create change in the world around them. Second graders begin to recognize problems in their communities and explore ways in which they can work together with others to support, speak up and create change. Activism comes in many different forms and is very impactful to the greater community.”
We thank Mayor Lightfoot for taking the time to sign and send this letter to a young developing mind. We are very proud of Shephard, as he shows that, even in our youngest grades, Parker students are working on becoming responsible citizens and leaders in our diverse democratic society and global community.