It is never too early to empower our youth. As an elementary school educator in Chilliwack, British Columbia I have been involved with Student Vote for 4 years. In 2009, my principal at the time called me into his office and handed me a box that he had ordered from Student Vote and asked me if I wanted to run an election with my grade 5-6 class. In the back of mind I could hear my dad’s familiar rhetoric, one he used to inspire my siblings and I around voting time, “Women chained themselves to fences for the right to vote…” He was trying to impress upon me the need to honour those who have gone before me in the struggle to have their opinions recognized. I took the package from my principal and started a journey to demystify the election process and remind my students that their voices need to be heard.
My students and I have now participated in the 2009 provincial election, the 2010 federal election, the 2011 Chilliwack-Hope by-election, and will be joining thousands of schools voting in the 2013 Provincial election.
When I host an election at school, I like to invite all candidates to present to my students before they make their final decision on student voting day. If you are considering hosting a Student Vote election I would say the opportunities for authentic learning experiences are second to none.
Since attending my first We Day in Vancouver this year I have been amazed by all the people at Free The Children and their sister organization MeToWe. Everything about the organization from the top down to the bottom is solely focus on creating opportunities for students around the world to be become aware of local and global issues, and to take action. They do this with an adrenaline charged message that is impactful and long-lasting to our youth.
Free The Children make it easy for educators to create awareness and encourage students to stand up and speak out. The educator resources can be used in many subject areas including social studies, health and career education, mathematics, and language arts. The lesson plans are ready-made, easy to follow, well prepared, and are easily adapted or modified. If that isn’t enough, when you contact Free The Children they will connect you with a highly motivated program coordinator who is well-educated, knowledgeable, great with students, and ready to assist the delivery of Free The Children’s message to your classroom/school whenever you need them. Program coordinators have offered resources, small group sessions, presentations in assemblies, and support to students in delivery of the program.
A Calendar of Action
Throughout the school year Free The Children have carefully created opportunities for youth to become more aware of local and global issues around the world. Most of their campaigns centre around creating awareness around Children’s Rights. Here’s a brief list of awareness campaigns:
Use a Google Document spreadsheet to facilitate a collaborative class assignment.
Example: Social Studies
Learning Outcome example : B2 – compare Canadian society with the society of another country
Design a spreadsheet which compares Canadian society/culture against other societies/country throughout the world. See template example Canadian SS template PLO B2
This example compares Canadian culture to other countries throughout the world
Once the spreadsheet is created, publish the document as a web page. See image below
Google returns a very long link to the published document. Use a URL shortener to shorten the link. See instructions for Bit.ly below
Students then enter the (shortened) link into the URL window at the top of their browser. They will be directed to the spreadsheet
Students are now able to access, create, and edit the document.
Your students are able to access and interact with the document at one time making it a truly collaborative effort. Sit back and watch the document create itself.
Once the document is complete it can be used as a revision tool or may be used again in another subject such as math when covering data analysis and graphing.
Copy and paste the link Google gives, to publish the website, into the Bit.ly website. Click shorten. Bit.ly will return a short, and more manageable, URL such as http://bit.ly/9pQV. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s much easier to remember the shortened URL.
For those looking for an introductory lesson for the their new class next school year, a great way to get to know your class is to have them fill in this spreadsheet together: Class introduction spreadsheet.