I watched the Republican National Convention this week, on CSPAN, to get the full picture. I will attempt to do the same next week in watching the Democratic National Convention although I will be doing some major work with NWP in Chicago and won’t have as much time as I did this past week. What I know for sure is this, we have to stand up and pay attention. In a world seemingly gone violent and mad, and with ideas of truth, justice, and the “American way” being redefined by our candidates and social media daily, it is more important than ever to support our friends, colleagues, and especially our students in becoming part of the political process.
I have to be honest, I have never read a party platform before. I have never looked in depth at fact checking sites, and I have relied mostly on gut instinct and the news media to shape my political views. In this election cycle, I don’t believe you can simply listen to the news, or scroll your Facebook feed, or listen to talk radio to learn the truth. The “truth” is dependent on the lens in which it is given, and in order to create your own understanding, you must begin to dig deep, deeper than you have possibly ever done before.
My students will return to class in a little less than four weeks. I am looking to focus on my home room and leadership classes to conduct a civics project. We will begin with a study of what it means to #payitforward (more on that in coming blog posts). We will then be working in cooperation with KQED and the National Writing Project to voice our questions and opinions to those who are running for the office of the President of the United States. Here is a link to the project announcement from NWP here
“Young people don’t want to wait till they are voting age to have a voice in their future,” said Elyse Eidman-Aadahl, executive director of National Writing Project. “Letters to the Next President provides resources, learning opportunities, and curriculum ideas for educators to engage youth in writing about issues central to their future as citizens and community members.”
Letters to the Next President is a national non-partisan, civic learning project. Throughout the Spring and Summer, L2P 2.0 partners share resources and opportunities for teachers to help young people hone research, writing, and media making skills. By getting young people to explore questions like, “From your perspective, what are the issues the next president should pay attention to, and why?,” Letters to the Next President 2.0 gives teachers and parents tools to help teenagers become more engaged citizens and, eventually, voters.
You can begin by exploring the work already begun on the site here: http://letters2president.org/ Room 207 will begin our work defining what the electoral process is all about, and more importantly, learning how to vet fact from fiction, opinion vs. propaganda. We will start with resources from PBS Election site http://pbseduelectioncentral.com/election-process and this video pretty much sums up as an introduction what we all need to know about how the election process works.
I am also attaching links to the Republican and Democratic Platforms. I for one am focusing on education at the moment, but seeing the ideals of both parties in print will lead to many interesting close reading and discussion activities with my leaders.
So please join us, comment below and let me know how you will be part of this process.