Engage your students in conversations that will inspire them to become active participants in our democracy. Use this project not only to solicit their ideas about current events and public policy but also to empower them to use their voice as an instrument of change.
This project has applications across the curriculum, ranging from civics to science to communication arts. Below are a few of our ideas about how to integrate the project into current units of study.
Teach students how to tailor their writing to their audience and medium. How might we modify our message for Facebook, Twitter, the local newspaper, a blog read by people who agree with our views or people who don't? How can we transform it into a radio story, a political cartoon, a campaign poster?
Research the bill of rights. Why do we protect free speech? Research the history of political activism. How did women gain suffrage? How did the Civil Rights Movement begin? What tools do we have as citizens to participate in civil discourse? What are the risks and rewards of doing so? What precautions should we take?
What role does the United States have in global politics? How did we rise to power? What responsibility comes with that power? How should we approach foreign policy? Should we intervene in foreign markets?
Research environmental legislation. How do federal regulations protect and/or harm the environment? What policies need to be put into place to slow down climate change? What is the government doing to promote sustainable energy?
What caused the current recession? What do economists believe will improve the economy? What is the relationship between consumer spending and unemployment? What do tax cuts and tax increases do to the economy at the micro and macro levels?
Why is chronic disease becoming more prevalent? What are the causes of the obesity epidemic? Do federal policies have any effect on what or how people eat? Is it possible to legislate lunch?
Help your students draft letters in English and translate them to their second language. Ever wonder if our chief diplomat is fluent in French?
Why do your students value the arts? Why are arts programs sometimes put on the chopping block when districts face budget cuts? Why should we protect them? Students could even post a creative letter to the president in the form of a song, a painting, a poem.
Please share your ideas, challenges, and successes with Dear Mr. President by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.