Our Voices Count

Our Voices Count lesson plan

Champion a worthy cause and be silent no more. Design distinctive letterhead on which to share information and call leaders to action.

  • 1.

    Many worthy issues at the local, national, and global levels need support. Invite students to work in small groups to research and consider needs in their communities, states, nations, or globally. Where might they want to put their time and energy? Perhaps your passion is to conserve energy, preserve historic sites, get a candidate elected, or save endangered species. Organize students into small groups. Provide groups with class time, text and electronic resources for research, and access to community members that are involved in such causes.

  • 2.

    When research is complete, each group will select a cause to champion. Remind students that whatever issue they choose, the more people who know about it, the more likely they will help make improvements.

  • 3.

    When topics are chosen, challenge students to learn all they can about the cause. As expertise grows, groups devise a plan to promote their cause. A letter-writing campaign is just one possibility. Below are suggestions for one such campaign.

  • 4.

    Determine to whom you want to write a personal letter, such as local and national politicians, newspaper editors, or civic and school leaders. Many organizations have sample letters and contact information for decision makers on their Websites. Remind students to always write from the heart.

  • 5.

    To convey your message in a personal way, encourage students to design a striking letterhead using Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils. Start with a colorful border such as the one shown in the sample, which is about diabetes. Pick an action word or slogan, perhaps to encourage people to be aware of the amount of sugar that they consume. How would you state your point visually, maybe an array of candy colors? Make matching envelopes that stand out as well.

  • 6.

    Provide an opportunity for groups to share their letters with classmates prior to mailing them.

Standards

  • LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • LA: Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
  • LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.
  • VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

Adaptations

  • As a class, brainstorm local, national, or global issues that are of interest to students. Take a poll to determine which issue is of greatest prominence in the class community. Investigate this issue further and plan some consciousness-raising activities for your school or community focused on the selected issue.
  • As your principal if the class can decorate a hallway bulletin board highlighting the selected issue.
  • Invite a local or national speaker on the topic to talk with the class or the entire school body. Prior to the visit, students make a list of talking points that you would like the speaker to cover.