Third grade is the year of the essay. This is the year that students build upon their prior knowledge of what makes a complete sentence and what makes a good paragraph, and put it all together to create works of writing that contain multiple paragraphs around the same topic, complete with an introduction and a conclusion. Throughout the year we have practiced several elements of essay writing, like creating a "lead" that will hook your reader, and leaving the reader with a call to action or a look to the future in the conclusion.
Our most recent essay writing venture included a new element: the authentic audience. Writing for a real purpose tends to bring out the voice and passion of the student, as well as helps the student to understand the importance of good writing. Who is our authentic audience? Teachers!
The students have been working hard to create a persuasive essay that will convince hesitant elementary teachers to try teaching a specific economics project. The 3rd graders were shocked to hear that most students don't learn economics until high school! Why is that? Many teachers are afraid! They are afraid the concepts are too difficult, that they don't have time to teach it, or that young students won't find it interesting. I told the class that even though I go to conferences and talk to teachers about how fun it is to teach economics, they would most likely be convinced if they hear from the students themselves!
After exploring the concept of persuasion through advertisements and a fun simulation (from which I sent pictures via email), we brainstormed what fun lessons and projects helped the students learn economics this year. Ideas included the mini-economy, our class business, The Lemonade War, Arthur's Pet Business, and play-dough economics activities. I asked the students to consider their journey of learning, and which of the activities would stick with them the most once they leave 3rd grade. Each student chose a topic and began to write, hoping to persuade elementary teachers to try it.
Here is a video of students finishing up their final drafts (a couple of them were already finished, so they are working on other things). I highly recommend stopping by the 3rd grade hallway to read their final products!
Little people, big minds.