Neon signs are not the only things shining bright in Las Vegas. Mike Lang, technology instructor at Clark County School District’s Laura Dearing Elementary School on the East Side of Las Vegas, is putting the spotlight on his students as civic servants and activists in their local community.
“My hope for all my students is that they see and consider themselves as citizens of the world who are responsible for helping others be successful,” Lang says. This month, Lang initiated a three-part project with his kindergarten and first grade students to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and instill a sense of civic duty in them. “That’s the ultimate goal: We want people who are going to be informed, passionate, patriotic in the true sense of that word, and who are going to be empathetic.”
The first part of Lang’s project is designed to show kids that they are valuable, using children’s book author Christian Robinson’s “You Matter” as a starting point for self-reflection. “Kids have to have a level of self-esteem to believe that their point of view matters, their story matters, their opinions matter, and their ideas matter,” he says. “It’s important for students to understand they have inherent power just because they are themselves.”
Students will use iPad to capture and edit images of themselves, their family, and their neighborhoods, and then craft their stories about why they matter using the PBS KIDS ScratchJr coding app on iPad. Next, the students will research Dr. King’s life and legacy using Brad Meltzer’s book “I Am Martin Luther King Jr.,” and compare and contrast themselves to him by creating double exposure portraits of themselves with the civil rights leader. Finally, in the “I’m a Dreamer, Too” segment of the project, Lang will ask them how they can be of service to each other and their neighbors. The students will complete interactive workbooks in Keynote for each part of the project, and he will compile their thoughts into a collated book of their ideas, which they will have the opportunity to share with community organizers and legislators in Las Vegas later this semester.