My students need current and accurate maps that can be used as reference points as we study and learn about historical and current events in our nation and the global community.
Hooray! This project is fully funded
Hooray! This project is fully funded
Imagine this: a young teen learns about genocides in our history and the world and then decides that something must be done about Darfur; she gathers some peers to draft proposals and seeks change and active involvement from our government. As a teacher, I find hope in moments like these. When a child realizes their voice and can be empowered to be an agent of change.
I am an eighth grade teacher at an elementary school where approximately 91% of our students are from low-income homes. I teach social justice and writing, an integrated class where we journey to learn about history and the social issues that have and continue to pervade our society. As we grow in our content knowledge, we use writing, in its variety of genres, as a vehicle to respond to these issues. It is inspiring to teach and watch the three sections (60 students in total) grow as thinkers and responsible citizens each day.
Each year we plunge into different units, learning about our personal communities, immigration and movement, genocide, and so on. I have found that my students continue to not only show their high interest in learning about history that is personal but also events and situations that have affected other cultures, in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
In Unit II, we learned about movement and immigration. As my students learned about the Japanese Internment and the first wave of immigration to the US from Ireland, they were drawn to how they could connect to these people who were coming from a different physical location. When we read the novel "Enrique's Journey," again my students were CAPTIVATED by the journey a young boy would take to find his mother who had left to try and provide a better life for him.
Why do I share these random tidbits? It becomes very difficult and limiting as a social justice teacher when we do not have ready access to maps in the classroom as references and visual aids in our discussions and learning experiences. As my students' interests cover the scope of the WORLD, I have to find ways to refer them to where these places are in relation to us.
Therefore, as my students continue to seek visual references of the world, I am reminded of this need. To have a map of the United States and the world would not only be a solid reference for us in our units but also a resource my students can access independently if they are interested in getting a better sense of where the latest news occurred. Also it would be a huge resource for establishing background knowledge when we read varieties of multi-cultural novels (as I also teach a section of reading). It seems like having access to maps should be a standard presence in the classroom, but this has not been the case for us. I would like the chance to provide my students not only with maps but accurate maps that respect our nation and the global community.
Just as my student felt the urge to stand up for and act in response to what is happening in Darfur, it is my hope that you will be an advocate for us to continue to engage in the work we are doing in social justice and writing. I am a firm believer in two major things: that we learn by actively engaging and that students have the power to make changes in our world if given direction and an opportunity. YOU will provide my students with a point of reference: not only physically in regards to where we are in relation to the War in Iraq, Cambodian Genocide, or the sex trafficking in Southeast Asia, but also in the power they have as young teens with choices to shape their future and impact others. When someone advocates and invests in you, it is empowering; that empowerment can only ripple outwards.
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