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Extra, Extra, Extra!!!


Jun 18 2016

Our world is a changing, evolving planet so, as humans take control over everything around them, the rich become richer, the powerful become more powerful, the poor become poorer and the weak become weaker. “Humans create organizations to structure society” was the idea that fourth graders explored in order to find the answers to their many queries about rights, systems, governments, war and justice. They had questions like “Why do people want so much power? Why aren’t human rights laws? Why does power generate war and hate? How can we participate in government’s decisions?” For solving some of their interrogations, they participated in vivid learning experiences that generated some solutions to their tensions and many more ideas to inquire about.

First, they had the chance to experience the differences among some types of government while they protected their realm during a very particular “capture the flag” game. Throughout the game they were divided into four groups which had to play under the rules of the type of government they were representing. One group was led by a totalitarian dictator who told them what to do; the other was led by a couple of monarchs, who had a group of counselors, that helped them making decisions; the other one counted with the participation of all the members, who had to agree on strategies and directions; and the last one had only one rule, they couldn’t speak. This experience was as fun as educational since kids enjoyed it a lot and could learn about how some systems work.

Then, kids took a look at the past in order to show and to increase their knowledge about ancient ways of organizing societies. They explored the diversity of ideas for organizing and leading their people Incas, Vikings, Greeks, Chinese and medieval Europeans had. They showed their understandings through creative performances.

To continue with the input, students had the opportunity to visit Bogota’s City Council. There, they could observe an important meeting between the councilors and students who were representing schools from the different Bogota’s districts. There, they also learnt about the function of the City Council and its connection with the City Hall.

Finally, they could start showing their understanding through the creation of a country as main task for the formative evaluation and by identifying, analyzing and evaluating an organization that would defend the rights in a chosen situation. Students came up with remarkable ideas for their countries, they gave them a name, a social organization, a type of government, a shape on the world map, rights and duties. For the summative, they analyzed situations in which the rights were violated, they chose an organization that would defend such rights and they made interesting proposals for continuity, improvement or total change.

During their work in the unit, students became more knowledgeable, caring and reflective about the situation of the world, they understood that sometimes governments and society are ideals, they learnt that if people want governments to be fair and honest, they have to make things happen. For that reason, they acted as a consequence of their learning. Some of them shared their knowledge in creative lessons for their partners, others brought a lot of material in order to deepen the inquiry processes of the class, and others went even farther and wrote letters to the City Council and to organizations that protect the rights of different communities in order to give their opinion about their responsibilities or to contribute to a specific cause. In accordance with historian Howard Zinn, we can’t afford to be neutral on a moving train; kids are leaders of their present and their future and they need to show they have a voice and actions in changing and improving the world they live in.articulocuarto2

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