Saturday, December 15, 2012

Forensic Footprints (after the shooting)

Examining Footprints Left Behind?

This essential question is a figurative way to examine a life (biography) in an introspective manner.  All too often, when school "cover" biography units, the focus is meaningless.   Kids have to report meaningless details of the Bio's life without any introspection or application.   The facts are easily recovered on a simple Google search for a website which enables the students to avoid reading the book.   The Common Core calls for "relevance" and this simple re-wording of biography units can help mold character in our students. 

If biographies are repackaged for the Common Core, you would find more meaningful constructivist assignments that ask the students to find the meaning in a life, rather than the birth-date and date of death.    I don't know when Nelson Mandela's birthday is, and it doesn't matter.  I can tell you however, that he was imprisoned for principles that we all should embrace.  I can tell you that he stood for peace and equality in a sea of inequality and injustice.   I can tell you that Irene Gut Opdyke helped resist the Nazi's in Germany even though she risked her own life when she helped and hid the innocent, spied on the enemy, warned of Ghetto cleansings, and saw relatives die.  I can tell you that Condoleezza Rice arose from a humble home to a level of international ambassador.   Now, those people have left footprints on the world that will never be forgotten.  

When senseless madmen leave marks on society, shooting innocent kids and forever impacting a community, it makes no sense.   If we spend precious educational time to "cover" this message, perhaps students will understand why video games are rated;   Why violent films have warning on them; why there are code of conduct laws; or why we should care about what legacy we are leaving behind. 

In the Common Core, a biography unit like this could accompany any history unit where remarkable people are studied.  A research reaction to Martin Luther King could send kids out to find remarkable people with remarkable footprints.   A reader and the task, reaction to Cesar Chavez study on migrant workers could lead to a footprint examination of others who have fought for a worthy cause.  This could also parallel a SS unit on a decade of change where students search for impactors (i.e. those making an impact).    They would need to persuade me as to why their choice was nominated for our "Hall of Fame Footprints!" 

In light of the recent travesty in Connecticut, wouldn't it be nice for schools to focus on Change Agents?   Build a biography unit to challenge students to leave behind a living legacy of good--not evil.    


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