Classroom Spotlight: Planting the Seeds of Hope, Change, and Peace
Located in Miami, Florida, Gulliver is a co-educational private college preparatory day school enrolling more than 2,200 students in grades PreK3-12 on four campuses. Academy Librarian, Carol Chenet recently shared “Rose’s Garden,” by Peter H. Reynolds with her fourth grade students to start a conversation on current events.
How did you use “Rose’s Garden,” to tackle current events – the school shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School and the March for Our Lives?
As I was sharing the story Rose’s Garden with my fourth graders, it made me think about the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas students at the March on Washington. Like the children who brought flowers to Rose and told her their stories, the children on the stage in Washington each had a powerful narrative to share. The students each were there together, but their stories and perspectives were very different depending where they were on the campus and their experience on that fateful day in February. And like Rose who planted seeds, the children in Washington have planted seeds. Seeds of hope, change, peace, but how long will they have to wait to see their seeds bloom? Will their faithfulness and belief in their cause grow a garden?
What were some of the responses from your students?
It was very important during this discussion that we focus not on the horrific event, but also on the strong, amazing students that are trying to move forward with a purpose.
When I asked the students what seeds these students at the March were trying to plant, the answers were: peace, hope, gun control, school safety, love and preserving the memories of those lost. But one boy said fear. I asked him why he thought they were planting fear. He said the more they talk about it, the more people begin to fear it happening to them.
I asked the students how long they thought it would take for the students at MSD to see their seeds bloom into a garden. Many said never. After some discussion, our hope was that in their lifetime, the children of the MSD students would reap the rewards of their strong beliefs and faithfulness and live in a world where children do not have to be afraid to go to school.
I love how you worked with students to go beyond the text and to find meaning and application, what other books have you done this with?
Another book that I teach to the fourth graders that has real opportunities for significant discussion is “The Missing Manatee,” by Cynthia DeFelice. The real world topics in this book deal with the endangered Florida Manatee, divorce, and alcoholism. Before reading this book, we invite an expert from the Miami Seaquarium to talk to students about the manatees, how they have no defenses, and how their primary enemy is man.