By Amanda Araim, Curriculum and Instruction Coach, Madison Elementary, and Heather Unger, District Academic Coach

THE 6TH GRADE students at Madison Elementary had the opportunity to invite members of our community to assist students in providing credible evidence to support their writing assignment based on the topic of: How can we make Madera better?

The Curriculum and Instruction Coach, Amanda Araim and the District Academic Coach, Heather Unger sat down to create a writing progression to address the 6th grade writing standard (6.W.1). Heather Unger had a brilliant idea of how much more powerful would the writing be if we provided context by inviting guest speakers in to each of the classes to provide information to the students. Days prior to the guest speakers arriving, students worked on brainstorming the issues that they considered worthy of attention in their community. The Instructional Coach, Amanda Araim led the students in formulating questions to some of the concerns they had generated. We invited Mayor Andy Medellin, District Attorney Sally Moreno, and Police Chief Dino Lawson to answer the tough questions to which the students wanted answers. Some of the questions the students generated dealt with unsafe road conditions, the homeless population, and the lack of shopping and restaurants in Madera.

The students now have dug deep into the issues at hand, and are using the quotes and facts from our guest speakers to support their multi-paragraph essay. The students have been utilizing Thinking Maps, Write From the Beginning Curriculum, and applying the six components of the Graduate Profile. Once the assignment is completed, students will be able to communicate their ideas to City Leaders with the hope of fostering meaningful change.

“We had some issues in our community that we wanted to address. Even though we are 6th graders, if we can help change Madera just a little that means that we are able to change the town that we know and love.”

— Genevieve Medina
(Student Council President)

Our hope is to help bring students’ writing to life. We want to teach them not only a writing standard in our curriculum, but we also want to provide them with a strong foundation so that they will be fully college and career ready, and career ready. This experience provided the students the opportunity to see that they have a voice, and, they too, can make a difference in the community they cherish.

Genevieve Medina stated, “The opportunity we had will help us with our educational goals and future by inspiring us to reach our goals and dreams.” Mayor Andy Medelin, an alum of James Madison Elementary, encouraged the students to follow their dreams, to consider leadership positions in their own city, including potentially running for Mayor of Madera.


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