In our hybrid teaching world, the elementary school day kicks off with a twenty-minute community meeting. Half of the class sits in their plexi glass stations, and the other half arrives smiling via Google Meet. At first, it felt strange and overwhelming. How will we spend this time? What might we do to simultaneously engage remote and live students without 1:1 devices? Now that we’ve begun to find a rhythm, each day of the week has a theme. “Talk About It Tuesday” served as an opportunity to discuss VOTING exactly one week before Election Day.
Our community meeting was anchored in voting as a right. We acknowledged that the presidential election was in process. We did not discuss candidates. We did not discuss political opinions. What we did discuss was how the right to vote has changed over time, and Equality’s Call: The Story of Voting Rights in America by Deborah Dieson helped us dive into that work. Before we began reading, we quickly shared thoughts and cleared up misconceptions around the questions:
- Who is allowed to vote today?
- There was a time when certain groups of people were not allowed. Who were they?
I love how the author writes a brief note to readers defining vocabulary that they’ll hear throughout the book. It serves as a resource to reference as the sophisticated terms pop up. We ventured through the chronological, rhyming timeline of voting rights in America. . .
“Readers, I want to pause here. What message is being sent to our country by allowing only white men with property to vote?” Fourth graders shared that it felt like other people didn’t matter. Were white men with property the most important people? We didn’t think so, but that message was shared loud and clear through authorities’ actions.
Throughout the text, there is a line about equality’s call again and again. Each time we read the line, the image changes: “What message is the author and illustrator trying to send through this repeated line and ever-changing illustration?”
- Every vote counts.
- Everyone should be allowed to vote no matter what their race or gender is.
When asked the question “What do you love about this book?” I was not surprised to hear young readers share they appreciated the rhyming. What caught my attention was the response “It has meaning.”
“Say more about that,” I replied. She continued. . .
This book shows that people should vote for someone who cares about all people.”Fourth Grader