As part of a project-based learning experience, fifth-grade students – who have been studying in-depth the United States Constitution – collaborated with their peers to create proposals for a 28th amendment in an attempt to address a variety of current issues they deeply care about.
“It is important for our students to recognize that our Constitution is a living document with the ability to change over time as the needs of our society change,” teacher Sarah Zonenshine said. “We want the students to recognize that they have the ability to shape our country and that their ideas matter.”
In preparation for their We the People unit that spanned several weeks, the students traveled to Philadelphia in October where they visited historic sites and museums and saw firsthand where the Founding Fathers worked to create our nation. When they returned from their trip, the students examined the preamble to the Constitution to determine what our forefathers had in mind when they wrote the document. Afterward, they worked in groups to research one of the existing amendments to the Constitution and discussed what was going on in our country at the time that necessitated that particular amendment.
“We brainstormed a list of issues that are currently facing our country today in 2018,” Zonenshine said. “The topics included health care, equal pay, death penalty, gun control, banning the electoral college and changing the requirements to run for president.”
Having conducted extensive research on the topics, the students worked in groups to write proposals for the 28th amendment to the Constitution and shared their ideas with each other.
“Even though people think that the world may be perfect, there are some things that need to be changed,” said Charlotte O., who worked with her classmates on drafting a proposed 28th amendment to ensure equal pay. “No matter what gender you are, you should get paid equally if you have the same experience and education.”
Zonenshine said the learning experience provided students with different strategies to become productive members of a group and further enhanced their ability to collaborate with their peers.
As a conclusion to their studies, the fifth-graders – who hope to make a difference in the world as engaged citizens – will send their ideas to Congressman Eliot Engel and Senator Kirstin Gillibrand.