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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Stimulate your classes' creativity

Abstract words are often difficult for students to define. Words like "love" change with time, your experiences, and your context. Many reserachers and educators wonder at the impact the recent anniversary of September 11th and the bleak outlook for the American economy has on current students image of America and patriotism itself.

Depending on how you execute this lesson, this activitiy offers a unique opportunity for students to learn and excersise multiple skills:
-Defining abstract words: Understanding that a word can have multiple meanings (both to themselves and others) and learning how to negotiate words' multiplicity.
-Creativity: Understanding that words do not appear just in letters, but also images. Learning how images impact the viewer.
-Basic letter writing skills (no, they are not a foregon art): Learning how to write a saluatation, introduction, and conclusion (this is also helpful when learning to write a self-narrative and basic paragraph).
-Civic Engagement/Community service: Learning how each person can impact another.
-Self-awareness: Learning a little bit more about themselves and how identity is created.

Opperation Gratitude Lesosn Plan
Before the lesson:
-Order FREE flat rate envelopes (so you don't have to pay for the envelopes, and no matter how much you include you don't pay for weight). Find out how/if your school will reimburse you for postage.
-Decide if you want to include your personal/school email for feedback. This may or may not establish a connection between your class and soldiers stationed abroad.
-One blank envelope per student
-Printed letter explaining the class activity for each envelope. Decide if you want to sign it or have the students sign.
-Find a few video/sound clips of America/Patriotism (suggestion: find a few examples from different time periods to show the class how Patriotism has changed over time).

The day of the lesson.
1. Show the Americanism clips you've chosen.
2. Ask the students what they think an American is. Get them into image mode by asking questions like "what does an American look like?" "What adjectives describe an American?" etc
3. Provide the students with markers, crayons, paper, etc. NO GLITTER. Ask them to draw what an American looks like.

OR
1. Show the Americanism clips you've chosen.
2. Ask the students what "patriotism" means. You will get many answers.
3. Tell the students there are many meanings for this word, and that is okay. Patriotism means a lot of things to a lot of people, and the meaning of this word has changed over time.
4. Explain that not all words have one meaning. Give examples: Love.
5. Have the students draw "love". Choose a few examples to share, expalaining that each option is correct.
6. Now ask the students to draw "patriotism". Explain that these pictures will be sent to soldiers abroad, who are executing their version of "patriotism" through self-sacrifice.
7. Help each student place their picture in the evelope, then place the envelopes in the larger flat rate envelope. Do NOT seal the individual envelopes.
8. After class, mail large envelope to:
Operation Gratitude
17330 Victory Blvd
Van Nuys, CA 91406

Lesson Extention Ideas
-At the end of the year, ask students if their idea of patriotism has changed
-Keep up correspondance with any soldier who replies

*Operation Gratitude sends letters and care packages to Americans stationed abroad. You can also donate beanie babies and care items. Check out other information on the project here.

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