“Playing Politics” (An Update by UI Undergraduate Daniela Thompson)

[This update is a reflection from the week before the 2012 Presidential Election.]

Every Thursday our group goes to a local elementary school where we give writing prompts to the students in an effort to show them that writing can be fun and useful.

This week, Chelsey led an activity about the election. The students were to write what they would like to do if they were running for the President of the United States. Instantly, the kids expressed that they did not actually enjoy politics and started shouting things they did not like or reasons why they do not want to talk about the election or even why no one should vote. I was surprised at how much the kids picked up and repeated with conviction from hearing what adults have to say about the election and their political reasoning. Chesley then offered the idea of having them write about being in power of any place, planet, or city of their choice and what laws and society would be like there. This idea was a hit.

All of them began writing with a few brainstorming ideas of possible laws they would put in place. Zoe incorporated a drawing of her universe to better share with the others what exactly she would be describing to them. She described her universe, which included several planets in which she ruled them all except one. That one planet was her sister’s because she wanted to share her universe with her. Each planet had its own food, color, and people (or aliens) that could only live on that planet. The rules she had were that everyone must listen to her and be nice to each other. Others went in alternate creative directions, like Scout, who wrote about ruling her bedroom. She gave a name to everything from the dresser to the bunk bed and wrote that they do everything she says. She explained that since she is friends with everything in her bedroom, they like doing what she tells them.

I think it is important to know that not everything always goes as planned. Chesley, however, demonstrated that not only can writing be creative, but teaching can be creative as well, by thinking on her feet and designing an activity that worked best for our students.

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