I’ve been teaching grade six for four years now and it still amazes me how passionate, knowledgeable and determined this age group can be in achieving social and global change.
What started as a novel study on ‘The Breadwinner’ by Deborah Ellis has turned into six months of constant connections between texts (ex. ‘I am Malala’, ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ and ‘Hana’s Suitcase’), personal life experiences (ex. Living in Syria and Pakistan) and connections to the greater world via Twitter and Instagram.
A student approached me in early April with an Instagram photo of Selena Gomez with various handles and hashtags associated with it, such as @MalalaFund #FreeTheChildren & #WeAreSilent. From this discovery, came a flurry of interest to participate in #WeAreSilent on April 17, 2014 to support Malala Yousafzai in bringing awareness to the millions of girls around the world who are not given the right to education.
This students’ interest represented one voice from our classroom. This one voice turned into 24 other students buzzing with questions. From there, 25 mini activists channeled their energy into 3 simple, yet effective tweets. These tweets submerged us into the conversation and awareness brought to the #WeAreSilent pledge. On this day, students learned that their one voice turned into dozens of retweets, a handful of new followers and recognition from the @MalalaFund directly. Although my students didn’t raise thousands of dollars like many schools did across the world, they still got to experience the power of speaking up and being passionate about issues that concern them.