On Citizenship

3395925980_91d8392fa5_mThey 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.


About Annie Campbell

Annie Campbell is a National Board Certified teacher and loves her work. After a forty year career in the classroom, she continues to support teachers. Annie enjoys cooking for family and friends; she likes to lose herself in a good book; she loves discovering new ideas, restaurants, perfect picnic places, and movies with her husband, Ben.
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3 Responses to On Citizenship

  1. Sparkelein says:

    I am reminded of something I learned in grammar school: “Politeness is to do and say the kindest thing in the kindest way.” I love reading about your class and what they are learning.

  2. Faithe Mickens says:

    Your language of love and pride in your class and your country in this piece gave me goosebumps. We are fortunate at Fox to be so multi-cultural but sometimes we don’t also recognize the challenges that go with that responsibility. Annie, the children in Room 204 are learning lessons for life, I hope, on how our nation has come together and now, like a worn quilt has to be reworked in some places to make it new again.

  3. Libby says:

    Annie, we still recite your mantra: “be kind, be fair, be responsible” in our house. It focuses us on what’s important. Thank you!

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