PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

The U.S. Government and the Voting process. What we’ve Learned.

Dear Families,
The last few weeks we have been learning about the Unites States Government and the Voting process.
polling place
Bill of Rights
balance of power
We began our Government and Voting unit by choosing jobs that we wished to have in class.  Students then filled out a sheet allowing them to run for each job.  I chose the most qualified for each job and the candidates debated with one another.  We set up parameters and rules for the debate in order to create a safe and respectful atmosphere.  We then shifted our attention to our Constitution.  We read the preamble again to the Constitution (we read it early this year) and delved into the Bill of Rights.  We read a passage about the 3 branches of government and how power is distributed.  As a class we brainstormed new agreements to add to our current Bill of Rights.
Amendments to our Bill of Rights
  • You cannot be judged by your gender or the color of your skin. Even if you are different you should be treated the same way.
  • Children should be able to make their own decisions. (For example, What schools they attend.)
  • Everyone has the right to come into our country, no matter the religion, culture, color of skin, gender and also if you are gay.
  • Everybody should be able to try something new. 
  • Kids should be able to vote beginning the ages between 10-12.
  • People should be immediately let into the country if they are refugees.  
  • Everybody should have the right to get a job.
  • Everybody has the right to believe their own opinions and NOBODY should stop them.
  • You should have the right to marry whoever you want.  
  • There should be free insurance if something goes wrong, like a flood or other catastrophe
  • We should treat everybody fairly.
  • Everybody should get free medicine.
  • Everybody should get a free education.  (Kids and adults, Elementary through College)
After the election we held a “courageous listening circle.” We spoke about our feelings in a safe space with one another. We did not all agree, but we tried hard to hear what was in the other person’s heart.  
Today, we discussed how our class and country are divided and it sometimes is difficult to overcome such strong feelings. In the beginning of the year we discussed how being a diverse class allows us to have bigger and better ideas together, it allows us to see things from different perspectives, it allows us to learn talents and information from one another, it allows us to consider multiple perspectives. Today, was a tough discussion. Our future I believe is in good hands. Here were some solutions that they came up with…
In order to overcome differing points of view that might cause pain/conflict we can…
  • Think about our own opinions and don’t voice them to anyone else. (15 students)
  • Use a conflict resolution “I statement,” and hear and figure out how and why the person might be feeling that way. First listen and then respectfully agree or disagree. (9 students)
  • Promise that even though you disagree, you should never say mean or hurtful things. (10 people)
  • Don’t ignore differences. Agree that the “normal” is to have differences. This it is just the way it is and it is fine. (6 students)
  • Search and find the many similarities between the person or idea. You might have more in common than you think! Think positively! (4 people)
  • Don’t get overly angry. Act reasonably. (3 people)
  • Protests often do more harm than good because they make the other person angry. (2 people)
  • We can never fix our differences. (1 person)
  • Make a huge effort to become friends with somebody who is different. (1 person)
  • Meditate it out. (1)
Tomorrow I will graph these and order them from the easiest to hardest to implement. We will make a social action plan that we will implement immediately. This is hard work but I am hopeful for our future!
Here are 2 great web sites that the kids can play on.