Encouraging Activism in the 2nd Grade

By the 2nd Grade Team
Second graders have been applying all the skills they have learned this year in reading, writing, social emotional learning and social studies to a final overarching unit on Activism. Students have been inspired by the stories and passion of child activists around the world found in books such as No Voice Too Small by Jeanette Bradley, Lindsay H. Metcalf and Keila V. Dawson and Making a Difference: An Inspirational Book About Kids Changing the World by Stacy Bauer, as well as a variety of internet resources and articles. Our children have learned that even young people can invoke powerful and positive change by using their voice and taking action.

Second graders began thinking about the causes that excited them personally or things that they wanted to see changed. First, they took a walk around Parker and noticed issues in their own community. They started to consider important questions: What problem(s) do I notice? Why do I care? Why are things the way they are? Who has the power to make change? Who else cares about the issue? What adults or groups can support me? What do I want? When do I want it? Who am I trying to convince, and what’s the best way to reach them?

They began writing persuasive letters to family members, staff and faculty at Parker, as a way to share their ideas, concerns and solutions. Soon children were encouraged to think about issues they cared about in the bigger world. Letters were written to the Mayor of Chicago, book publishers such as DK and National Geographic, The Governor of Illinois, The Amazon Rainforest Conservancy, The Federal Aviation Administration and others including the President of the United States. Children were taught how to address letters, use postage stamps and then delivered their letters to the Parker Mail Room and neighborhood mailboxes. Several 2nd graders were thrilled to receive responses and all are confident that their letters will have an impact and are hopeful that change will happen.

Some children researched organizations that resonated with their interest and learned the many different ways people can get involved.

As a culminating project, 2nd graders invited their families to view and celebrate their activism projects. Students shared their letters and responses, posters and signs, videos, QR codes and slideshows to bring greater attention and awareness to their very important issues. Through their experience and engagement in this unit Second graders will move on from this year of learning and growth feeling confident that they can use their voices to create positive change in the world! 
See photos of the experience here.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.