Bringing about change isn't easy. Often a lot of leg work is involved and when that leg work is being done by a 10 year old it may seem even more daunting.
Current Situation: As we make our way towards the end of the school year, one of my students started discussing the "Fourth Grade Play" with her sister (who had been in a production of "Julius Caesar" several years before). It seems that my student wanted to "Bring back the Fourth Grade Play". Her sister suggested she start a petition.
The petition was then created and over a several day period the student collected over 84 signatures. Fourth graders, third and fifth graders alike signed their names to the document. (Even a staff member signed the petition.) The day finally came when my student asked if she could present the paper to the principal. I asked her to write our principal a letter stating what she was hoping to accomplish and attach it to the petition. She did so and brought the letter and petition to the office.
The Discussion: She came back with her hand over her heart saying "I'm so sick to my stomach, I can hardly breathe!" It seems that she was worried that she was going to get in trouble for organizing this action. She stated that some kids even erased their name from the petition for fear of being reprimanded.
After calming down my student, we spoke about how this was a wonderful way to exercise her 'right to petition'. Since we had just learned about Martin Luther King, connections of using peaceful methods to bring about change were made. I assured her that she and her friends were not going to get in trouble and that this is how people bring about change in government and other areas.
The Outcome: Sometimes, even with a petition, the change we hope to bring about doesn't necessarily happen. This was to be the case for my fourth grader and her friends. However, what DID happen was that the principal came to each fourth grade classroom and told the students how impressed and proud he was of their efforts. He also explained how students shouldn't be afraid to make their voices heard and that they shouldn't be afraid to stand up for what they believe.
Even though the kids didn't receive the outcome they wanted, I think they were satisfied that their endeavor was taken seriously and proud of themselves for trying.
On Another Note: In June these fourth grade students will participate in an activity called "Night at the Museum". Students will research an historical figure and write a script about the life of that figure from their point of view. They will wear a costume and perform their script. It's a magical evening for students and their families.
Whether it's a Shakespearean play or a Night at the Museum the students will be afforded an opportunity to learn through drama and participate in an activity that they will remember for years to come.
Right to Petition the Government: From Learning to Give which has "resources that teach giving and civic engagement".
How to Write a Petition: This site provides information on "identifying your target, proper research, clear communication and how you will promote your petition."
Online Petition: Start your petition online for free.
Why Use Drama in Education: DramaEd.net states and gives examples how "drama accomplishes many educational goals."
Have your students created petitions? What was the outcome? How have you guided them in their efforts? Please share your experiences in the comment section.