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Yes We Did – Watch the Inauguration January 21, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Politics, Teaching.
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3 comments

bracelet1

I woke up at 5 a.m. worried about one of my students, who’s often tardy.  I shouldn’t have bothered. When I arrived at school, he was already in line and eager to let me know he was the first one at school.  I breathed a sign of relief.  So far, so good.

I’d left a note on the classroom door.  Any student who arrived late had to be personally escorted to the restaurant where we were going to watch the inauguration or go to another teacher’s classroom.  The plan was to leave directly from the playground where we line up so as not to miss Obama’s swearing in.  The Start bell rang.  We had exactly 14 minutes to walk to the restaurant if we wanted to see Obama take the presidential oath. 

We speed-walked in a single file line.  Several of my students, giddy with excitement, said they felt like they were in “Make Way for Ducklings” (one of the stories we’ve read) and that I was Mrs. Mallard leading the parade.  We arrived just in time to see Joe Biden sworn in as Vice-President. They piled their backpacks in a corner and found seats.  We had the front room at the restaurant, and my students quickly settled in to watch Barack Obama sworn in and listen to his speech, while they were served orange juice and muffins.

Then out came the real food.  Hot trays with three kinds of eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, and pancakes.  There were beans and meatballs and even baklava.  One of my students who’s African American brought her mother and her grandmother (who was still younger than me!).  They brought me the bracelet in the photo above.  I have a wonderful photo of them  – three generations – watching the inauguration.  In one photo, my student’s grandmother is wiping away tears.  It’s a beautiful image. 

As I looked out over my students, I saw the faces of the future. My students are Asian (Korean, Chinese, and Vietnamese), Latino (Mexico and El Salvador), African American, Armenian, Bosnian, Pakistani, and my token white student (I have one every year), who’s excited that he’s learning some phrases in Bosnian.  In short, they are the faces of American – and our country’s future. If my class is any indicator, our country is in good hands.

Yes We Can – Watch the Inauguration January 17, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Politics, Teaching.
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obama

My third grade students almost missed watching the inauguration of Barack Obama.  Last Tuesday it hit me.  Although I have a TV in my classroom (won in a raffle), I’ve only used it to show videos and DVDs.  Because of the mountains in Southern California, you can’t get decent TV reception unless you have cable or a satellite dish. So how were my students going to watch Barack Obama take the presidential oath?   No matter your political bent, this is History with a capital H!

I  talked to my husband aka “Tech Support” about our options.  On any given day the internet is down in my classroom.  (To be fair, when we got a new school superintendent, he was appalled at the sad state of technology in our district, but that’s Another Story).  I know teachers who are taking Tuesday off because they don’t want to miss this historic event.  How sad is that?    .

I emailed my room parent to ask if she had any ideas.  (And no, I don’t name names, but I am arranging to have her face carved on Mt. Rushmore.)  I was willing to invite my students to watch the inauguration at my house (and yes, I would have obsessively cleaned for third graders), but parents aren’t allowed to drive students on field trips.  Dedicated teacher that I am, I wasn’t willing to put my job security on the line and commandeer a bus (not in this economy).

My room parent is one of those “can do” people, who can move mountains. (I just point to where I want it moved.) When my sons were in school in New York City, I was always a room parent, and I’d like to think that my sons’ teachers thought of me in the same way.  But then I was never “put to the test.”  I excelled at collecting money from parents and making sure there were enough cupcakes for class parties.

Within 20 minutes of my email, my room parent had come up with a plan.  I had to (take a deep breath) call my principal at home to get the okay.  My principal thought it sounded “fabulous!”  The very next day, each student received a personal invitation to the presidential inauguration.

So I don’t know how you’re spending Inauguration Day, but this is what my “future leaders of tomorrow” will be doing.  As soon as the Start bell rings. we’re going on a “Walking Field Trip” to a restaurant three blocks from the school.  My room parent knows the owner.  Although the restaurant doesn’t open until lunch, they’re letting my class watch the inauguration in the back room on the big screen TV AND serving them breakfast. (My room parent said she’d take care of that.)

One of my students is bringing her mother and her grandmother, so you’re welcome to join us.  All of the permission slips have been returned, and the students are psyched.  Because they’re third graders, now they want to know about the really important stuff – like what’s to eat?

Why is this so important to me?  This year I have a cluster of English Language Learners (ELLs) and most of their parents are here on student visas or aren’t citizens, so they didn’t even vote.  And unlike in years past, I only have three African-American students this year.  But I understand the significance of the election of the first African American president for ALL Americans.  My students (who are 8 and 9) might not fully appreciate this now, but years from now I want to them to remember how they spent this day, and that they shared it with me – their teacher.

On Friday, as they got ready to leave, I asked my students, “Are you going to come to school on Monday?”  I got a resounding NO.  They all know it’s Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday. (Third graders are SO smart.)

“Are you going to come to school on Tuesday?” I asked.  “Yes!” they said in unison, barely able to contain their excitement.  “Don’t be late, ” I reminded them.  “We have a date with history!”

Note to Teachers: So many teachers have read this post after plugging in the search term “inauguration lesson plans for third grade.”  My amazing room parent also bought me a subscription to edHelper.com. so I was able to put together a four-page Inauguration packet filled with puzzles and activities.

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