Wednesday, May 13, 2009

the world... according to my third grade class

It's been such a long time since I've posted... I couldn't resist sharing an update on my third grade life though. So, here it is:

As state testing has begun and the end of the year is coming, I've been trying to dream up creative (and still worthwhile) activities for my students. I decided during an "ah ha" moment that they could benefit from listening to a read aloud that would be much different than others we've read this year. I saw a review of the book: Three Cups of Tea (The Young Reader's Edition) and knew it would be perfect! My goal is that my students would recognize the privileged position they are in as children in America who are entitled to an education. I hope that by contrasting that with much of the world they would become much more interested in, and committed to their own learning... now and into their future lives. So we began with a little bit of "background" and are trying to build from there. It's been very exciting and interesting thus far!

All of these discussions have centered around our world map and the fascination it's created in our classroom. So we started out by locating Kentucky on our world map... from there:

"Where's the country on the map?... That's where I used to live." (country as in rural)

"Is Mars on the map?"

STUDENT: "If kids in other countries really want to learn why don't they just come to America?"
MY RESPONSE: "If you were a child in Pakistan and you were eight years old and wanted to come to America, how would you get there?" (while illustrating the distance by pointing to our world map)
STUDENT: "Walk."
ME: "Really!?! You would walk across the world? I don't think you could do that. What would happen when you got to the ocean?"
STUDENT: "I'd walk across it." (very serious response in fact, and none of the other students seemed to question it!)
ME: "You can't walk across the ocean. Look here's Florida. If I'm on the beach in Florida the ocean is the only thing I can see for as far as I look in that direction. Even then I'm only probably seeing about this much (showing about one centimeter of the ocean on our map) of the whole thing. How could I walk across it? You would have to fly or get on a boat to cross the ocean. If the kids don't have any money to go to school, then they definitely don't have enough money to buy a plane ticket or a ticket for a ship."
STUDENT: "You could still walk across it." (even still, adamant and unchanging)
ME: "Boys and girls when I tell you things like this I'm not lying. You can ask any adult you know and they'll all agree with me. You cannot walk across the ocean!"

So my goals for the final two and a half weeks of school... identify the seven continents, recognize the United States on a map of North America (the addition of Canada and Mexico would be a bonus!), and locate Kentucky on a United States map. I think we can do it!

The same students also explained to me that if they ever had worked in a sweatshop (as that term came up as part of a list of reasons that children don't go to school in some countries) they would have killed their boss. The comment was made that no one could make them work like that and treat them that way.

Finally, one of the more enlightening moments (a glimpse of hope)...
STUDENT: "So you're saying that these kids around the world can't go to school but they want to, and that we can go to school but we don't want to!? That's AWKWARD Mrs. Peery!"
ME: "Yes, that's what I'm saying... No it's not "awkward" it's really sad that you all feel that way. They would tell you that you're the luckiest kids in the world."

So they are quite interested in the Pennies for Peace program which was briefly mentioned in the book's introduction. I'm browsing that website and thinking about mentioning it to the other third grade teachers, maybe the principal and counselor also. Two and a half weeks isn't long for a penny drive... but it could help! 1 PENNY = 1 PENCIL in those school... we're very blessed, without a doubt.

I'll keep updating with other exciting glimpses into the life of Mrs. Peery's class as they come!