We’ve been reading and talking about Ruby Bridges, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the idea of justice and equality in my third grade classroom. Our class read-alouds have given us lots of opportunities to dig deeper and wrestle with these issues. Yesterday, we watched the PBS NewsHour interview with Ruby Bridges, and students were able to hear Ruby tell her story in her own words. I watched their faces shift from shock to familiarity (the “I’ve heard this part before” look) to anger to amusement and back. Then they paused to jot a life lesson that they’ve been learning from Ruby.
Here are a few:
I learned from Ruby Bridges that in life, it’s important to be courageous. For example, Ruby was not afraid to go through the crowd because she had the marshals around her and support from her friends and family.
Ruby taught me that it is important to always forgive people. For example, when she prayed and forgave the angry mob.
I learned from Ruby that it is important to be passionate and level-headed with a problem so you can face a hard challenge. For example, when the angry mob wanted to hurt or kill her but she walked through the crowd with her head held high.
Wow! I was amazed at the depth of their thinking and reflection…these 8-year-olds are thinking about history in a way that can have an impact their entire lives. In light of this thinking, for writing, students wrote peace poems to continue to think about the idea of peace overcoming hatred and evil. They brainstormed synonyms and antonyms and started coming up with images and metaphors that could truly paint a picture of peace triumphing in our world.
Here were a few lines:
Harmony leaps in the air, and all the horror shatters into thin air.
Courage whispers to the evil thoughts and says, “Try again.”
Peace is like a door shutting out the animosity.
Peace is playing with my dog on a blazing summer day.
Tranquility finds warmth in your heart to overcome hopeless memories.
And with that inspiration from my students, I was ready to face the week. Ready for challenges. Ready for the hard questions. Ready for whatever comes my way.
How can we let peace permeate all we say and do? How can we continue to grapple with these issues with our students, allowing them to talk and reflect on our history and our world today?
Thanks to Two Writing Teachers for creating a place for writers to share their work and hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!