Fostering Civic Engagement
November is a month filled with significant events in the realm of government and civics. There are many ways to connect students with real-world learning experiences that will help them to understand the fundamentals of democracy, citizenship, and civic responsibility. Understanding how the U.S. government works and learning about historical events is essential for students to be informed and engaged citizens.
To help our students become more aware of these important events and to broaden their cultural awareness, it is important that we find resources that will help students to explore in authentic and meaningful ways. Once students have time to explore and learn, they need opportunities to create and share that learning with classmates and even beyond their school community. Buncee and PebbleGo Create make this possible because together they provide the right resources to create a meaningful and engaging learning experience for students.
1. Native American Heritage Month and Day (November 24) is designated as a time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and contributions of Native Americans. November 24th has been proclaimed as Native American Heritage Day by the White House. Students can find books and learn about the history and cultures of Native American tribes. To share their learning, they can create a visual display using PebbleGo Create and share with classmates. Printing some of their creations would be great for having a display in the school to teach others about the heritage, history, and famous Native Americans.
2. Election Day (First Tuesday in November) is a day when U.S. citizens are encouraged to exercise their right to vote and our students need to understand its importance. Helping students learn how leaders, whether local officials or the President of the United States are chosen and their role in this process is essential. Some activities to engage students are to create a mock election day experience where students get to vote for a class president or a school mascot. In the classroom, educators can set up polling stations, have students design ballot papers or election advertisements to share. It’s always good to have a discussion with students as a follow up. Some questions could be asking students to learn about leaders and determine what qualities they think a leader should possess? Also to think about why voting is important in our society. An extension could be to have students create a PSA focused on the importance of voting!
3. Veteran’s Day (November 11) is in honor of all military veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. It is a day to recognize and thank veterans for their sacrifices. By exploring the library available through PebbleGo, students can learn about the branches of the military and share what they learn with classmates.
It would be a powerful learning experience to also invite veterans to speak with students and share their stories and experiences. Have students prepare some questions ahead of time and they can also use PebbleGo Create to design a thank-you card for the guests or to share in the school. The best part is that students will be able to create something that is purposeful and will help others to learn about and honor the service of others.
4. Historical Figures' Time Capsule: With a focus on history and government, students can choose a person of impact and learn about their work. Using PebbleGo, students can create a time capsule to represent what they learned about the life and achievements of the person they researched. Asking students to consider why it is important to learn about historical figures and how they have influenced our world today is a great way for them to learn about the impact we can all have in the world. For younger students using PebbleGo, they can choose from the resources to search biographies about history makers such as Presidents and First Ladies or politicians. As students are empowered to choose their own research topics, they take an active role and are more engaged in their learning. They can then design a Buncee to visualize and share their learning.
5. Thanksgiving is a time to pause and express gratitude. It is also an opportunity to learn about the history of the holiday and its connections to early American history. Exploring the different fall holidays and related traditions is important for building cultural awareness and learning about others’ perspectives. How Students Can Learn: Explore the history of Thanksgiving and its origins. Discuss the importance of gratitude and encourage students to share what they are thankful for. Sharing Knowledge: Organize a Thanksgiving-themed class presentation where students can discuss the history of the holiday and its cultural significance. Encourage them to share their own family traditions related to Thanksgiving.
Students can develop a greater appreciation for culture, democracy, history, and the importance of civic engagement. By encouraging students to explore and then create to share their knowledge not only fosters understanding but also promotes empathy and a sense of civic responsibility towards their communities and the world. PebbleGo Create allows students to take what they have learned and illustrate their understanding and ideas through a variety of media features. Beyond the potential for creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication, using PebbleGo Create, students can build skills in digital media literacy, technological proficiency, and digital citizenship.