They came into Room 204 one by one on Friday. They came on poster board, on canvas, on construction paper, and on parchment. They came in collage, in acrylic, in marker, in crayon. They spoke through letters, through quotes, and through bits of speeches. One even spoke from the horse’s mouth. Their personalities took shape through poetry, storied sketch, comic strip, time line, and through props: a tall black hat, a bible, a walking stick. They came into Room 204 one by one on Friday: George Washington. Thomas Jefferson. Abraham Lincoln. Thurgood Marshall. Rosa Parks. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
As we talked, read, and shared projects, we dipped our narrative brush into vats of fact and imagination; through sweeping strokes, a story emerged. The story is one of trustworthiness, honesty, and self reliance. It is a story of the beginning of this country, and it is the story of now. It is the story of the relationship between risk and result. It is the story of the American Citizen. It is an evolving story and it is incomplete without us.
We didn’t start our story of citizenship with this biography unit. We started it on the first Tuesday in September. One by one they came into Room 204. They came in new shoes: sandals, tennis shoes, crocs and clogs. We sat on the green rug and we talked about how to be a great third grader: Be kind. Be fair. Be responsible.
On that rug, on that first day of school, there was a boy who did not yet speak English. Remember? I remembered Friday as I listened to him read his project on Abraham Lincoln in lilting English made musical by his voice.
A parade of American citizens, past and present, came into Room 204 one by one on Friday. A story emerged that was beautiful and stirring. And an Egyptian citizen reminded me how universal the tenets of good citizenship are. It always starts with kindness. With fairness. And with responsibility.