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ERIC Number: EJ1041748
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-1056-0300
Empowering Our Students to Make a More Just World
Dorfman, Shari; Rosenberg, Ruth
Social Studies and the Young Learner, v26 n2 p13-15 Nov-Dec 2013
Fifth-grade teachers Shari Dorfman and Ruth Rosenberg strive to help their students see the possibilities that exist within themselves, so that their students can begin to envision their own future. To this end, Dorfman and Rosenberg choose to celebrate the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by sharing the stories of lesser-known figures who embodied King's dream of equality. Their ultimate goal is to inspire their students to believe that each of them has the potential to become a leader who can, in King's words, "rise above the narrow confines of his [or her] individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." Each year, in mid-January Dorfman and Rosenberg bring their two fifth grade classes together for a morning filled with activities centered on the theme "defenders of justice." They began this work in 2008, as a celebration of President Barack Obama's inauguration, with a shorter version of the lesson that they describe herein. In the years that followed, they looked for a way to extend the value and efficiency of successful lessons from that curriculum that would align with their district's diversity curriculum, recognizing that teaching students to appreciate diversity is a fundamental aspect of a vibrant, democratic citizenry. King's birthday seemed to present the perfect opportunity. Among other exercises Dorfman and Rosenberg's lesson included reading picture book biographies about "justice for all" and completing a related cube sheet where students were required to complete each of the six spaces on the sheet (describe the person; the issue; what he or she did; who helped; who stood in the way; and who supported justice). As a culmination to the entire lesson, they asked students to reflect on what they had learned and apply their new ideas to their own lives. Dorfman and Rosenberg conclude that after learning that there were many instances during the nation's history when Americans faced injustice, their fifth graders understood that defenders of justice are still needed in the world today.
National Council for the Social Studies. 8555 Sixteenth Street #500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel: 800-683-0812; Tel: 301-588-1800; Fax: 301-588-2049; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Grade 5; Intermediate Grades; Middle Schools; Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A