DEMOCRACY IN ACTION will be a unit of study beginning in January and ending in March. At that point in the school year students are comfortable enough with their power within the classroom to investigate new paradigms. Each week students will be introduced to a new American political thinker. Students will be able to solve problems at class meetings as their favorite political thinker. To help set the stage, simple period dress will be available for the 'problem solver' to wear. Once all four political thinkers have been introduced, the class will draft a vision statement that contains a problem they would like to solve either in school or the larger community. After the vision statement is drawn up they will create an action plan to accomplish their goal.
A diverse and equitable view of our population is necessary to achieve realistic values in political thought. In order to encourage these values I will use the visions and action plans of Cesar Chavez, Jane Addams, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Beecher Stowe , through story tellings. These stories will present a diverse cross section of political thinkers. The abolishment of slavery, suffrage movement, social reform of nineteenth century, and organization of migrant workers have each greatly effected political thought in North America. Students will have the opportunity to take on and explore each of the personalities through problem solving sessions and dramatics. The voices honed here will reemerge during future play productions.
The students will be introduced to the art of murals and marionettes. In their own right each of these art forms have communicated and continue to communicate political unrest, reform and change throughout diverse cultures. Through each of these mediums they will express their vision. The planning of the murals and construction of the marionettes will integrate our math and science curriculum. The writing of the plays and mural narratives will incorporate the writing process. Connections to our school and community's political system will be established through trips to our principle, school planning and management team (1) , the mayors office and the board of education. They will present their vision and ask for comments and or suggestions from each organization. Investigating and working with each of these groups will empower the students and contribute to their value systems. They will know how to effect change.
In March parents, community members and the student body will be invited to attend a performance of our marionette plays based on our vision and action plan. Students will communicate to the audience the change they effected and the journey that bought them to that point. Murals and project documentation will also be on display.
DEMOCRACY IN ACTION strives not to isolate curriculum according to subject. Success in life is directly related to our ability to grasp emotional and cognitive aspects of relationships. It is essential that we begin this process in our schools. One's love of learning is influenced by environment, emotions, application of new knowledge, and relevance of the material to one's own life. The curriculum must therefore support integrated and diverse learning models. Storytelling will act as a scaffolding for our class to build on for each of these models.
The students must have opportunities to experience, discuss, accommodate and ultimately assimilate information to promote critical literacy. We as educators are afforded the opportunity to become more diverse in our political thinking, curriculum and instructional methods. Immersing the class in democratic language, art, and literature will enrich our community and ideally be reflected in the daily work of each student. Our three month study will take over every aspect of our room. The walls, displays and learning centers will directly reflect these images. Students will have culturally diverse role models to foster positive self images.