Thursday, October 29, 2009

Letter to Future Representative Written with Port Leyden's Fifth Graders

Recently I've been teaching a video conferencing series, "A Kid's Guide to US Government" (Parts 1, 2, and 3) to fifth graders in Port Leyden, NY. I actually taught Port Leyden's fifth graders last year, and it was a fun experience to be reunited with the new fifth graders! Every year, New York fifth graders take a state social studies test, which I found upon reading to be not only informational and interesting but also much higher in its level and caliber than its counterpart, the WASL, in Washington State. Ah well--we can hope for a better new standardized test; they are replacing the WASL.

As part of my presentations, I taught about citizenship and ways for citizens to influence government, such as writing a letter to their representative. Port Leyden currently has a vacant representative seat but there will soon be an election for that area. This is the letter we wrote for the "future representative."


Dear _________,

Imagine this: you’re walking in the lovely, bucolic foothills of the Adirondack Mountains when you feel something hot and burning hit your shoe. You yelp and jump up—only to see that the culprit is a smoldering cigarette butt. Would you like this? We are writing today about an issue that we find very important—the amount of non-smoking areas in Port Leyden.

Think if the cigarette had gone any further. We’ve seen in history that carelessly discarded cigarettes can start wildfires, like the Great Yellowstone fire and others. Do you want this to happen in your state?

What’s more, cigarettes left on sidewalks and in nature areas are an eyesore. Littering takes away from the beauty of nature around you.

What’s more, seeing smokers can negatively influence teenagers to take up the unhealthy habit and start smoking. We’ve seen similar effects in movies and TV long ago; back then, the people took action. Why not now?

Most importantly, secondhand smoke can be very damaging to children’s lungs and has been linked to an increased chance for lung cancer. Help the population of Port Leyden stay healthy—and smoke-free. Create more non-smoking areas.


Port Leyden Fifth Grade Class


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