To finish up our government unit, Kent and I planned to run a referendum with our classes. They brainstormed then voted on some changes they would like to make at school. Once we had our 4 questions we formed 8 groups, each assigned a question and position. They were given time to prepare a campaign and presentation that was attended by the other grade 3 and 4 classes. They made posters, prepared speeches, filmed commercials and created powerpoints. Although they all made pros and cons T charts with points highlighted as important, some groups' messages got lost in the excitement of the campaign. The following day students ran polling stations for the three grade groups at recess and lunch. They had class lists and photo books to mark off voters, ballots with the questions on them, private voting stations and ballot boxes. At lunch students counted and scruteneers recounted votes. We did not expect the votes to go as they did but it gives us more points to discuss about democracy and also sending clear messages. Voter turn out was quite good but we can talk about whether the vote could have been different had everyone voted. We also talk about abiding by the decision whether you agree with it or not and the power to initiate change if you are willing to be involved. The kids were excited the whole way through but we have to read their self assessments and reflections to see what they learned and what we may do differently.
This post is courtesy of elementary school teacher Judy Schneider.