Second Graders Learn the Importance of Being a Changemaker

Second Graders Learn the Importance of Being a Changemaker

Second grade students recently performed their Changemaker skits for their parents. Their teachers, Jackie Blake, Katherine Snape, and Danica Baylor, shared their thoughts about the Changemaker unit.

What are Changemakers?
Throughout our three-month Changemaker unit, second graders studied historical and current changemakers from both their local and global community. They observed character traits of changemakers, looking for similarities, and learning how these individuals overcame challenges and adversity. By reading biographical and narrative nonfiction picture books and fiction stories, students practiced identifying character traits such as brave, imaginative, confident, patient, honest, humble, and fearless, just to name a few. They learned to support their ideas with specific evidence in their writing. Students then made personal connections to character traits, identifying a specific trait they wanted to grow within themselves. They created unique skits in small groups to demonstrate their chosen trait as well as inspire others. The cumulative performance showcased the students voicing their ideas about what a changemaker is, performing their group skits, and singing a beautiful song about how everyone can be a hero. The final component of this unit included the students developing agency by putting their character traits into action. Students brainstormed issues they saw at OES, in the Portland community, or even globally, and how they could take action as changemakers. Students are currently in the process of choosing which action they will take and how they will be changemakers in our community, using their power for good.

Why is this unit special to you?
It is incredibly rewarding to listen to eight- and nine-year-olds talk about themselves and others with words like caring, helpful, courageous, and unstoppable. It is the kind of character building that will undoubtedly affect their lives in the most positive way. It is a beautiful process to watch unfold. The students enjoyed learning about different changemakers, but the changemaker performance truly stole the show by challenging the children to collaborate, problem solve, negotiate, practice and memorize lines, and finally perform on a stage. And now to see the children putting their hands to work for something they are passionate about is truly inspiring.

Why is it important for second graders to learn about changemakers?  
This process encompasses such an array of subjects/skills such as reading, writing, art, music, drama, collaboration, imagination, reflection, and public speaking. It goes far beyond learning about changemakers. The students are learning about what a changemaker is at their core, and most importantly, how they can be a changemaker every day just by being kind and caring about others. To be able to demonstrate this learning in such an age-appropriate way is a perfect way for second graders to share their knowledge and their hearts. What is more important than teaching our future generation that they have the power inside them to truly make a difference in our world?

How does a project like this align with OES core values and essential competencies?
In addition to all of the above, the students are learning how they can use their power for good!

The students shared that a changemaker is someone who:

  • “Makes a difference in the world, big or small.
  • “Is strong enough to make things right.”
  • “Sees joy through darkness and fear.”
  • “Makes hope for people.”
  • “Stands up for good.” 
  • “Takes risks even if it’s scary because it could help someone.” 
  • “Cares for the environment because you shouldn’t think you’re the only one on this planet.” 
  • “Works hard to make a change; you could still do it!”

And what they hope others will learn from their performances:

  • “Even if you’re not the same species, you can still help in a thoughtful way.”
  • “There is goodness inside everyone because we all share the same hearts.” 
  • “Nothing is too small, and no age is too young, to lend a helping hand.”