4th Grade Activist Correspondance
PHS Celebrations of Learning (COLs) provide an opportunity for our students to be leaders of their own learning across extended learning formats. COLs are characterized by public and visible learning, high-quality work embedded in real-life contexts, engaging an authentic audience, active self-reflection throughout the process, and encouraging intrinsic motivation and engagement.
This year, the 4th grade students chose a person to profile who had used their voice to make a positive change in the world through climate activism. 4th grade students considered the following essential questions:
- What is the climate crisis and how is it impacting myself and others?
- Who are the climate activists organizing toward climate justice?
- How can I support, join, and lead the movement to help heal our environment?
Then, the 4th grade researchers participated in an extended inquiry process wherein they “met” and profiled key climate justice activists. Activists they selected highlight a broad coalition of groups, who actively and passionately mobilize climate action. Throughout their process, 4th graders were inspired by these models of environmental stewardship and were moved to join collective efforts for climate justice. As young activists, students now see how they can support, join, and even lead efforts to heal our environment and keep it clean for future generations.
Students created visual biographies and timelines of climate justice activists, as well defined their own environmental pledge and service. Finally, students wrote letters to climate activists and important political figures to encourage policy change. Many recipients wrote back! See below or click here for some examples of student letters and activists' replies.
Dear Pattie Gonia,
My name is Addie, short for (Addison). I live in San Francisco, California and I'm in 4th grade at Presidio Hill School. I'm inspired by your climate change and your intersectional environmentalism and you getting people to help us reusable bags instead of plastic. Im writing to share that i’m going to try to use less plastic bags or none and no plastic bottles which i’m doing right now. One way I’m trying to do this is asking my parents to use reusable stuff and I'm already not using plastic bottles. On a personal note I'm trying to use electric fires instead of real ones so
I don’t set fires and get smoke in the air. I also think other people should focus on this topic too.
Based on my research on you and climate change I learned that If we smoke or make fires and drive gas cars that the clouds get darker and if we use electric stuff and no cigarettes then we will have nice clear clouds and less smokey air. I know that if we do this or if we keep doing this then we will probably develop a sickness. I know that smoke causes pollution even though it's not plastic. Cars that use gas depend on its fossil fuels and fossil fuels come from underground and I know it will run out of it because it won’t always make it in a second even though people want, it won’t do that. I know that switching to electric cars and vehicles will help reduce greenhouse gasses and help the air and peoples future.
Thank you for reading this letter and listening. It is my sincere hope that by reading this letter it will give you ideas for your awesome videos and what you have accomplished. Your ideas inspire a lot of people! Like me! I hope this will make your day by reading this! I want you to see how far you came and what beautiful community you created.
For your great leadership, and your positiveness,
And Pattie Gonia's response: What an amazing project! Thank you so much!
Pattie wanted to send back a BIG thank you for the amazing work you are doing to inspire your students and send a lil thank you to Addie as well, attached.
Dear Claire Nouvian,
My name is Noah, I live in San Francisco, CA. I am a 4th grade student at Presidio Hill School. I’m inspired by your work to pledge to help put out deep sea bottom trawling and other types of offensive fishing, as I have learned from your motto “clear cutting a forest for a few fish.”
I also pledge to get my friends and family to do the same, as you have taught me and a whole handful of other people. I have been inspired by your work for at least a month now and I pledge to help you and be loyal to you forever more. (dramatic effect)
As I said earlier, I will try my best to help put a stop to offensive fishing types such as deep sea bottom trawling, which take in so much fish, and most of them are then thrown off the boat because most people don’t want to eat them.
Thank you for making time to read my letter. (As you probably have a lot more to read). I appreciate how you inspired people to act up and do the right thing.
And Claire Nouvian's response: Thank you for the work you are doing with your student activists! Claire greatly appreciated reading the touching letter Noah wrote, full of humour and conviction.
It is wonderful to see students being inspired by teachers such as yourselves to act on social and environmental issues, we need them more than ever!
Dear Parker AKA Kween Werk,
I’m Chloe, and I live in San Francisco, California. I am a nine year old, soon to be ten, student at Presidio Hill School. Your experience has inspired me to help the environment and fight climate change. I have been picking up litter and chip bags on the school yard that release Carbon dioxide when decomposed. In order to help, I will continue to pick up litter, reuse, and plant seeds. I agree that we should manage our Carbon dioxide levels and plant more trees.
We need to sort out this problem soon, because later is way too late. If this problem is still going on for a few million years, Earth would end up like its sister, Venus, so hot from Carbon dioxide its surface could and will melt lead. I think that if we want Earth to heal, we ALL have to act NOW. This isn’t one or two people's problem, it’s all of our problem, and it’s our job to make it right.
The Carbon dioxide levels are unacceptably high and are wrecking the ozone layer, even worse, it’s melting ice caps that is making sea levels rise. Our planet has taken good care of us, while most of us are taking our planet for granted. If our planet is taking care of us, then I say we return the favor, not by deforestations, not by oil pumps, not by testing nuclear bombs in diversed eco systems, but by planting trees in neighborhoods, cleaning liter, reusing, actually recycling, rebuilding ecosystems, and reducing landfill.
Thank you for reading this letter, I hope you understand your positive impact on me, and thank you for inspiring me to not only fight for social justice, but
environmental justice, too.
I refuse to wait for change, Chloe
And Parker's response: I cannot express how much this letter means to me. Please tell the student how much I appreciate their thoughtfulness. When I was 9 I wrote a similar letter to the NYTimes. I attached a photograph below. If I redact the students name would you mind if I share this sometime in the future on my social media?