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A lesson in chalk

April 16, 2017

Tests are usually dreaded affairs for most students, but not when those tests take the form of colorful drawings on the sidewalks in front of the school. 

On Friday, Mr. Wendelin's seventh grade class used sidewalk chalk to create Venn diagrams as part of a final unit test. They determined the similarities and differences between three young women who sought to make a difference in the world, including Joan of Arc, Anne Frank and Malala Yousafzai. Using the diagrams, they concluded that all three young women stood up for what they believed in, were motivated by their faith and were determined to spread their message no matter what the consequences.

In addition to a diagram, students were also asked to include one quote from either Joan, Anne or Malala and a portrait of each in their sidewalk chalk drawings. The students' diagrams and drawings are on view in front of the main entrance school, at least until the next big rainstorm. 

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The students began this semester reading about Joan of Arc and her struggle to drive the English out of France during the Hundred Years' War, Mr. Wendelin said. Then, the students read aloud the play version of The Diary of Anne Frank and learned more about the Jews, Nazis and the Holocaust. 

Finally, the students read the autobiography I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani girl who was shot by a Taliban terrorist for advocating for girls' education in her native land, and became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. 

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The lesson plans were geared towards new State English Language Arts standards that encourage social-emotional growth in students, in addition to the basics of reading and writing, Mr. Wendelin said. 

"It is my hope that the students take the lessons of these three girls to heart," he said. "Joan, Anne and Malala, and many other girls like them, took a stand, persevered and didn't give up in the face of oppression. Doing the right thing is much easier said than done, but I hope the students were emboldened by these girls' amazing lives." 

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