I’m so excited to begin today’s lesson! I think that students often think we adults feel they are “just kids”, and sometimes, can’t do much! Today, I plan to show the students just how inaccurate that thought really is-and prove it! To begin the lesson, I ask the kids to meet me at our classroom meeting space: on our rug. I start by asking the students, “Boys and girls, do you think kids your age can make a difference?” Of course, a slew of comments start bubbling and hands are popping up all over, so I need to fine tune my question. Since we’re studying presidents, I reword my question and say, “Specifically, do you think kids can make a difference with our government or presidents?”
Our class has a discussion for a few minutes about what we think kids can do! Kids offer all sorts of suggestions, like things they’ve heard about kids do on the news and videos they’ve seen on YouTube! Some kids even offer that kids could maybe help point out laws that we need that the president has never thought of possibly! We brainstorm a list of all the ways kids could possible make a difference on our chart paper!
After we finish listing all our ideas, I tell the kids that it REALLY is possible for kids their age to make a difference, even with presidents! Today, we’re going to share an informational text together that shows an example of exactly how one child made a difference with a president we know really well-Abraham Lincoln!
Students head back to their seats and our paper passers help pass out our text for today, which is a text titled Lincoln & Grace, written by Steve Metzger. I ask the kids to keep the text closed for a moment (as usually the kids just want to jump in and start reading) and just look at the cover of the text (I put a picture of the cover up on the SmartBoard as well). I point out that even though the illustrations here are clearly drawn and not photographs, this is a true story-a real account of how a kid made a difference with Abraham Lincoln. I ask the kids to make predictions about what the title, Lincoln & Grace, might tell us about the text. Then I have them turn and tell their tablemates what they’re thinking.
After a few minutes of letting the students discuss their ideas together, I call the students back to whole class discussion with the use of our “Clapping Ball”. (See my "Strategy Folder" for more information on the Clapping Ball.) I ask the students to share what they and their tablemates discussed. Some students right away share that they think Grace is the kid who makes a difference with Abraham Lincoln. Others say that they noticed right underneath the title, the cover says “Why Abraham Lincoln Grew a Beard”. I compliment them on their nice noticing and ask the students, “Why would a kid have anything to do with Abraham Lincoln growing a beard? How could that make a difference?” I ask the students to keep this in mind as we begin reading! I set the purpose of our reading by telling students that ss we read, let’s read closely and find specific evidence that will help us understand how a kid made a difference with Abraham Lincoln.
Then we start reading! As we read, we stop and discuss the text features we encounter and the evidence students find within the text that shows how Grace impacts Abraham Lincoln!
When we're done reading, and to close our lesson today, the students and I discuss the evidence we found in the text that shows how Grace really did make a difference with Abraham Lincoln. Mys students identify that thanks to a letter Grace wrote to Lincoln, where she recommends Mr. Lincoln grow a beard to make him a bit more “friendly” looking, Abraham Lincoln makes a special visit to see her and is later elected president! Now that my students have this evidence from the text, I ask them to make an inference based on that information. I follow up with the same question we began with today: “Can kids make a difference with our government or our presidents?” The students in my class all agree that, yes-after reading this text, they can infer that kids CAN make a difference, even with presidents! I close the lesson by telling them that tomorrow, we’ll look at some letters other children have written to presidents, too! I wonder what differences these other children could have made...