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Building a Community of Active, Educated Citizens

CCA 7th grade, Social Justice students are raising awareness within their community. While reading Paul Fleischman’s Eyes Wide Open and Seedfolks, and Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax”, students discussed topics ranging from environmentalism, global warming, food and health, economy, politics, media, lobbyism, and other hot-button social issues. While the unit has a clear structure and design, it is also meant to encourage students to explore topics that they find most interesting.

“It’s not about what it is, it’s about what it can become” (The Lorax, Seuss).

Inspired, students went to work on a variety of different projects. In one assignment, students were asked to write two letters to a person of influence or authority. One letter required students to research business practices and products that they found flawed. The other letter required students to find a positive and influential company, product, or person and write a commending letter of gratitude to show acknowledgement and appreciation.

After gathering their information, students wrote argumentative letters to these companies, people, or brands, arguing what they thought should be changed and providing suggestions for improvement. In the second letter, students wrote letters of appreciation to those who have inspired them in life, or to those who are somehow helping better the whole of humanity.

“There is no one alive who is youer than you” (The Lorax, Seuss).

In another assignment, students created awareness posters that continued to speak up for a cause of their choice. They used the symbol of the Lorax, from Seuss’ “The Lorax”, to help guide their ideas and projects. On the posters, students were asked to create a symbol for their cause, include a slogan, and provide relevant information that will help others understand the problem.  The goal was to inspire others to join the effort as fellow agents for change.

“I am the Lorax! I speak for the trees!” (The Lorax, Seuss).

For their final awareness unit project, students started a small flower garden. The garden idea is a reflection of the garden in Fleischman’s Seedfolks, one that joined a divided community, bringing hope and promise to the people struggling in Cleveland, Ohio. In building their garden, students were able to decorate mason jars as flower pots, understand the importance of filtering water, learn how to grow plants from seeds, and join together as a class to create something beautiful. Furthermore, planting seeds, whether they be flowers, food, or trees, helps students recognize their ability to take care of the planet, cultivate life, and develop a reverence for nature.

“Catch! calls the Once-ler.
He lets something fall.
It's a Truffula Seed.
It's the last one of all!
You're in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds.
And Truffula Trees are what everyone needs.
Plant a new Truffula. Treat it with care.
Give it clean water. And feed it fresh air.
Grow a forest. Protect it from axes that hack.
Then the Lorax
and all of his friends
may come back” (The Lorax, Seuss).

As students begin their next unit, humanizing the homeless, they are better able to empathize with those struggling in their community and all around the world. While the topics covered likely only brushed the surface of what’s going on in the world, students were able to find social issues that they became passionate about, found a real-world application for their research and argumentative writing skills, and learned more about their own ability to have a positive impact on their community and the rest of the world. 

Great job, CCA students! You are the next generation that will lead this world into a brighter, healthier future.