Making the Desert Bloom

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 26 2012

Teaching Politics to 5th Graders

Anyone who knows me is well aware of the fact that I am a very political person. I can almost inject politics into almost every situation, which can often be problematic. As a result, I was very excited to be able to talk the current election in the reading and social studies parts of my class. At first, I thought that politics would mostly be left to my civics unit. However, I don’t have enough time to teach all of the social studies objectives. Therefore, I have decided to incorporate political news and events as my weekly current events discussion within my reading block.

This week, I had a perfect story for my Thursday class. The day before, President Obama had been in North Las Vegas (3 miles from my school) talking about education reform. Therefore, I printed out a summary story from the Las Vegas Review Journal about the visit, and we read it as a class looking for the key points of the story. This article was able to connect to our reading strategy of the day, finding key information, as well as keeping students informed of current events. My students were very engaged in this lessons and they successfully identified the key points in the rather lengthy article.

But there was something far more concerning to me. I asked the class if they liked President Obama or not. My students are enthralled by the President, and they all wish that they could vote him. However, their support for him appears to be based on skin color alone. While it is important for students of color to identify with the leader of the country, I want them to know why they support him. Therefore, over the next few weeks, students are going to write a longer opinion piece on why they either support President Obama or Governor Romney. They are going to have use 3 main reasons and back it up with facts. I am curious to see how they do on this assignment as I guide them through the process.

What concerns even more than the blind support for President Obama is the inherent dislike of any older white, male politician by my students. Last week I showed them pictures of both Joe Biden and Paul Ryan. When I showed Rep. Ryan’s face they started booing and they called Joe Biden a troll (his bio picture isn’t exactly flattering). I need to teach my students how to judge a person based on their ideas rather than their external appearance. Hopefully my writing assignment will do that.

To counter the boos in class so far, I have taken to giving mini-lectures about being Americans. My school requires us to sing the National Anthem and recite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning. I have told my students that we will still continue this routine whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is our President come January. A few of my students countered by saying that their only allegiance is to President Obama rather than our great country. When I hear remarks like that I know that I have a lot of work ahead to explain that our country is more than just our leaders. Each and everyone of us is part of our country and that’s what makes it the greatest country in the world at this specific juncture in history. While I may flash a smile when I see my students supporting the President, I really want them to learn why they support or possibly disapprove of him before Election Day.

About this Blog

Just another weblog

Las Vegas Valley
Elementary School
Elementary Education

Subscribe to this blog (feed)