Staff Photo: Keith Farner Riverside Elementary teacher Lynne Franks discussed the qualities the President of the United States should have in introducing democracy and government to her third grade students. The third graders wrote persuasive letters to the editor to encourage people to vote.
SUWANEE -- With pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on the wall above each end of the white board, Lynne Frank's class of 24 third-graders discussed the incredients and foundation of democracy and how this country was founded.
It's an exercise Franks said she uses every four years as she wrote in red and blue markers on the board about 10 characteristics that are the qualities the President of the United States should have. Among the bulleted items Franks and her students discussed were being organized, unselfish, honest, bold, compassionate, diligent and a good listener.
The social studies curriculum in the state calls for teaching levels and branches of government for third grade, Franks said, and she led an exercise early last week where her Riverside Elementary students wrote persuasive letters to the editor to encourage people to vote.
Franks said she knows her students' parents, relatives and friends will be talking a lot about politics. Parents even report back to her that they learn a lot about democracy and government alongside their children.
"That's why I go heavier into the election," she said. "With this, it's so on their minds, it's the perfect time. It's a great time for them to be introduced into democracy."
Franks and her students focused on the outline of the government system, the framers of the Constitution and other key figures in American history, like Paul Revere, Susan B. Athony, James Madison, Ben Franklin and John Adams.
"Those framers helped us establish our constitution so we could vote," Franks said.
The students' choice of Barack Obama or Mitt Romney was not needed for this exercise, but instead would wait for the school's mock election.
Several of the students focused on the importance of voting.
"If you don't vote your opinion, you don't count," third-grader Wesley Hall said.
Frank's outline for the students included an opening, "my opinion," three reasons to make their point, a restatement of their opinion and a conclusion.
"Think of a grabber," Franks told them. "Convince citizens how important it is to vote."
As they read their letters, several students said if people don't vote, "you can't complain."
"What would happen if no one voted," asked third-grader Timothy Kim. "Would you like it if a president was chosen that you didn't like?"
Earlier this year, the students learned about informational writing when they wrote about a Georgia animal habitat, but this was their first crack at persuasive writing. So several students noted when a classmate used transition words to make their point.
"What if a president ran away when war was coming," said third-grader Briana Brozowski. "We wouldn't have a leader to guide us."
Added classmate Daniel Sorrels, "If nobody voted, there would be no president and we would have a dictator rule over us."