Students Working for Change
Summer is upon us, and America’s Independence Day is approaching very quickly! My city already had some early fireworks, pictured here.
As an American, it’s easy to get wrapped up in what’s happening locally, but I try to teach my students to:
- Be curious about other people and places
- Care about what’s going on elsewhere
- Feel empowered to take action and work for the world they believe in
During the last few months of school, I worked with several different groups of students on action projects, all focused on issues that the students chose. Each class had a different focus, but they were all based on current events research.
Action 1: Fighting Chinese Air Pollution, by the Leach and Maier Advisories
A student in this class read an article about this issue on a great website called Newsela, which publishes news content at multiple different reading levels. The rest of the class agreed that breathing clean air is a human right, so they decided to target companies that use coal in China:
Action 2: Ending Assumptions about Homelessness, by the Krakauer Advisory (with help from the Destramp Advisory)
Each advisory at our school takes part in some community service. My advisory decided to focus on homelessness. They were able to Skype with an expert from a national organization called Community Solutions (a former student of mine from way back). My current students learned that the first step towards change is for people to understand that homelessness is not a permanent label, but a situation that people can get out of, if they have the right support. They decided to make posters to hang around the school to teach their peers about what they learned:
Action 3: Individual Campaigns by the LaRoche and Bresnahan Advisories
My last class did fabulous research, but then we ran out of time for the collaboration piece, due to a power outage and some schedule changes. Instead of doing one big project, students teamed up in small groups to design their own actions. They each chose an audience to appeal to, whether their peers or a person in power, like President Obama. Even with the time crunch, their results ended up quite persuasive:
I’m proud of the work my students created, and I hope they inspire you to take action on whatever issues matter most to you. Former President John F. Kennedy said,
I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.
On this Independence Day, let us work to live out his dream and fight for a better future for people across the globe. If these students can do it, so can you!
Note: Want to see more? Last quarter’s classes also had some powerful things to say. Check it out here!