I hope this message finds you well. I want to thank you for the work you are doing — sharing your knowledge and unyielding energy with your students. You are changing the world.
And the world is changing quite a bit around us. While many of us had the opportunity last week to voice our opinions and cast a vote for the future President of the United States of America, our country’s youth did not. And many of them will not have such an opportunity for several more years.
A principal once told me that she “believes our students have the power to start a revolution. They can shape the future health of their families, friends, and entire communities. As educators, we simply need to show them how to grow.”
Throughout my Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, I will be relying on you to show our youth how to grow. I will also be relying on you to share your voice and the voices of your students in order to cultivate participatory storytelling and digital curriculum. Each month, I will propose challenges for you to try out with your students. If you choose to accept, we can collect results and share your student’s work on National Geographic. In the spirit of open-source seeds, all content created during this project will be accessible for free. See below for this month’s challenges.
Sincerely with gratitude,
November Challenge #1: Write a letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
The seeds planted today are the gardens, farms and forests of tomorrow. Youth depend on adults to sow these seeds. Last week, many of us had the opportunity to voice our opinions and vote for what seeds we’d like to sow. Our youth did not have this opportunity, so I’d like to extend it to them now. What futures do you want sown?
Objective: Students write letters to President-Elect Donald Trump voicing their opinions for what they would like to see during his Presidency; what kind of seeds do they want sown for their futures. Teachers send images of letters to OurSeedStories@gmail.com for publication on National Geographic blog platforms (optional).
Core Competencies: Language Arts-Letter Writing, Civil Society
- How can a President help unite the country?
- How can a President help make people happy?
- How can a President help the environment?
- Why do you have to be 18 or older to vote?
- Why do we have a President?
- Using Guiding Questions (feel free to add different ones), introduce the challenge. If necessary, review letter format structures.
- Stress the importance of respect, politeness and formality inherent in letter writing – especially to an elected government official.
- Give students space and time to write their letters. Try to prevent influence from adults or other students.
- Once completed, you can choose to display/share letters.
- Optional but encouraged: Send images (pictures or scan copies) of letters to OurSeedStories@gmail.com. I will collect and publish letters from students around the United States to share their voices on a National Geographic blog. Send with the email subject as “Letters to President, City/State, Grade Level”. *I will refrain from publishing any letters that are disrespectful to our readers.
November Challenge #2: Seed Myths
If all plants come from seeds, it is only logical to wonder: where do seeds come from? I cannot find many myth stories about seeds, so I hope your students are up for the challenge!
Objective: Students create (through writing, drawing, or discussion) a myth about the origin of seeds. Alternatively, about the origin of a specific plant or food.
Grades: 3-12 (could be for older audiences, if appropriately tweaked)
Core Competencies: Stories-Myths, Cause and Effect Logic
- Every plant comes from a seed.
- 1 seed can grow into an entire tree.
- Most seeds need water, warmth and soil to grow.
- Myths are stories used to explain how things came to be or why something is.
- Using background knowledge, introduce objective.
- Give students space and time to work through their stories. This can be an in-class activity or take-home.
- Once completed, share stories with each other.
- Share stories with me! Send examples (pictures or scan) of any student myths you’d like to share. Email to OurSeedStories@gmail.com with subject “Seed Myths, city/state, grade level”. I will collect and publish these on a National Geographic blog.
- Give feedback: How did this activity work for you? How did you use it in your classroom? Do you have suggestions for developing the lesson further?