The Ashley Bryan School

The Ashley Bryan School
Serving Children in Grades K-8 from the Cranberry Isles

Friday, September 21, 2012

Learning Civics

What are the Roles of the Citizen in American Democracy?
  • What does it mean to be a citizen of the United States?

  • How does a person become a citizen?

  • What are important rights in the United States?

  • What are important responsibilities of Americans?

  • What dispositions or traits of character are important to the preservation and improvement of American democracy?

  • How can Americans participate in their government?

  • What is the importance of political leadership and public service?

  • How should Americans select leaders?
These are the questions our students are working towards answering during their first Social Studies unit of the year.  They are pretty big questions, so where do we start with children in grades 1-5?  With lots of discussion and children's literature, of course!

We kicked off this unit with a discussion about the meaning of several vocabulary words:  citizen, society, right, responsibility and government.  The students came up with some great definitions of the words.

 Next we read this book:
This story is about a group of children who work together to create an imaginary society complete with a mayor, stores, houses, laws--you name it!  After reading this book the students discussed these questions:

1.  What does it mean to be a citizen of Roxaboxen?

2.  How does a person become a citizen of Roxaboxen?

3.  What are important rights in Roxaboxen?

4.  What are important responsibilities of Roxaboxen?

5.  What kinds of people are needed to keep Roxaboxen going in a positive way?

6.  How can Roxaboxens participate in their government?

7.  Why is it important for Roxaboxen to have leaders?  How did they choose their leader? What are some other ways people in Roxaboxen could choose their leaders?

Why is it important for people in Roxaboxen to help out the community?

 You'll notice these questions are directly related to the questions the students will need to answer about American citizenship at the end of the unit. 

After a great discussion, we explained to the students that their next job is to create their own society and build a model of it in the classroom.  They have to cooperate and all work together to accomplish their goal, and before beginning to build they must share a plan with the teachers for approval.  They got right to work, and after some initial arguing about how to make sure everyone's voice was heard, they began taking turns sharing ideas.  Eventually, they began designing a plan. 

Now they are ready to begin building.  Again, they have to cooperate and make sure that everyone participates, which will lead us to many more discussions about leadership and cooperation over the weeks to come.  
They are having a lot of fun working on this project, but they are also working hard to work as a team, to make sure everyone is heard and to share leadership of the project.  And this is just the beginning!  When their society is built, they will work on writing a constitution, choosing a leader, writing laws, establishing rights and responsibilities...... 

1 comment:

  1. What a fabulous project! And SO perfect for some of the newly trained student leaders to shine! These kids are going to AMAZING citizens of the World!!!