Students demonstrate good citizenship by fulfilling their civic and social responsibilities and contribute to the well-being of the communities in which they are a member (including their home, school, neighborhood, country, and the greater world).
I will be a better student if I act on the following beliefs:
Learning Objective: To realize that part of good citizenship is obeying all rules and laws, even the ones that may be considered ridiculous
Materials: One sheet of colored paper per student (use multiple colors)
Learning Objective: To help in understanding what it means to share and be a contributor to a solution
Materials: Building blocks or something similar (Lego’s, Popsicle Sticks, etc.)
Prior to the activity, build a small sculpture or design with some of the building material and hide it from the class.
Process and Reflection:
Tito and his friends were always sitting in the park complaining about things: the park was littered with trash; their parents never gave them enough money; the planet was getting more and more polluted and the weather more extreme; also, the music the radio stations played was always bad. Life seemed pretty hopeless to Tito and his friends.
But one day Tito decided he’d heard enough. “What are we doing?” he said. “In all the time we’ve spent complaining, we could have been doing something productive. We could have worked jobs and made all the money we needed. We could have cleaned up this park or volunteered to help get the government to take action against climate change. We could’ve learned instruments and made our own music!”
Tito took a deep breath, spun on his heel, and started walking away. “Where are you going?” “To do… something!” Tito said.
Process and Reflection:
Mr. Martin told his English class that leadership was “influencing meaningful change either through your own conduct or by motivating others to act,” and he assigned an essay requiring students to write about a personal experience with leadership.
The students groaned, insisting they couldn’t think of anything, so Mr. Martin read an essay submitted last semester:
This year I started taking a bus to work after school. People pretty much keep to themselves. A few months ago, an old guy got on the bus and said loudly to the driver, ‘Good morning!’ Most people looked up, annoyed, and the bus driver just grunted. The next day the man did it again. He got another grunt. On the third day, the driver responded with a semi–cheerful ‘Good morning!’ “Then the guy said: ‘My name is Benny,’ and asked the driver, ‘What’s yours?’ That was the first time any of us heard the driver’s name.
Soon, Benny offered his cheerful ‘Good morning!’ to the whole bus. Within a few days, his ‘Good morning!’ was returned by a whole bunch of ‘Good mornings’ and the entire bus got friendlier. People started introducing themselves and talking. A man next to me mentioned that the place where he worked was looking for people. He gave me the number and I got a better job.
Things really changed on the bus because of Benny, so I think he was a leader. But about a month ago, Benny stopped getting on the bus. Everyone noticed and lots of people said he may have died. No one knew what to do and soon the bus got awful quiet again.
So last week, I started to act like Benny and say, ‘Good morning!’ to everyone and they cheered up again. I suppose I’m the leader now. I learned you don’t have to have big titles or lots of power to be a leader. Benny didn’t just change the bus, he changed me and lots of others by showing us that just being cheerful can change attitudes and that changing attitudes can change lives. I hope Benny comes back to see what he started.
Someone in the class asked, “Mr. Martin, whatever, happened to Benny?” Mr. Martin laughed. “Well, he’s okay. Benny used to be a teacher here. After he retired, he just keeps riding different buses teaching leadership.”
One cynical student said: “Wait a minute, is this all true?” Mr. Martin smiled and said, “Do you mean the story or the lesson?”
The most important thing we can do for our children is to help them acquire values and skills that they can rely on throughout their lives. In doing so, they will have the best chance to lead good lives as individuals and as citizens of their communities and of America. The U.S. Department of Education has prepared a resource guide with teaching points and activities for elementary, middle, and high school students.