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Because Claudette

Because Claudette by Tracey Baptiste is a must-have book for upper elementary classrooms. There are many ways I could have used this book in my classroom this morning including, but not limited to:

  1. Examining cause and effect text structure
  2. Discussing Civil Rights
  3. Discussing Ageism
  4. Discussing Perseverance
  5. Discussing Collaboration
  6. Discussing Nonviolent Protest

But today, I chose to shine a spotlight on the message in the author’s note. Tracey Baptiste writes, “I immediately thought about the many small acts of resistance that lead to a bigger movement.”

Too often in life, we give up because we think in order to make a difference, we have to do something big. But the truth is, we can change someone’s day with something as simple as a smile. Some people may argue that a smile is not an act of resistance.

I disagree.

If a child is being ostracized by their peers, and another student smiles at them, that smile is a small act of resistance. It may seem like nothing to the person smiling, but it could feel like everything to the excluded student.

So, I asked my students to let me know one simple thing they could do today to make a positive difference. Here’s what they had to say:

“I could make a difference by using the recycling at snack.”-Cora

“I’m going to ask if someone wants to sit with me or play with  me. I’m going to make someone’s day.”-Alice

“I can recycle materials to make a difference.”-Danny G.

“I could donate food to the homeless in need.”-Eesha

“Help someone with their work, like writing or reading.”-Faith

“I can donate to a charity.”-Gabe

“I could make a difference by trying harder.”-Grayson

“I will make donations.” -Jacob

“I can encourage my friends to keep trying and never give up even if the task is difficult. I know they can do it and I can make them believe that they can do it by cheering them on or even just helping them to improve.”-Jaiden

“Help someone that needs help.”-Samuel

“I will work super hard.”-Tucker

“I could ask a kid having troubles if he wanted to play at recess.”-Jacobi

“Maybe I could make a difference by organizing some books in the classroom.”-Isla

“To put trash in the trash bin and put recycling in the recycling bin.”-CJ

“Be kind.”-Ida

“Help someone pick up trash.”-Nick

“I could hang up signs saying BLACK PEOPLE SHOULD BE TREATED FAIRLY.”

“Be nicer,”-Danny P.

“I could move at lunch if a kid doesn’t have a friend.”-Hazel

Are any of these ideas revolutionary?


Are any of these ideas original?


But the truth is when we make a change, we have no idea how that change will ripple out into the world. Claudette Colvin didn’t know when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white person on March 2, 1955, that her action would lead to the end of bus segregation in Alabama on December 20, 1965.

But it did.

So I’ll ask you the same question I asked my students.

What can you do today to make a difference?

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