The VOICE of the future…

An engaging day at CRFC’s Primary VOICE seminar

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend another one of CRFC’s hidden gems. Involving 20 primary grade Chicago Public School teachers, CRFC’s Primary VOICE fosters literacy and encourages civic learning through the use of children’s literature, with a curriculum that combines the development of reading skills and law-related education.

Martin Luther King Jr once famously said “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” This is true for all ages and especially important for children – as it helps form a foundation of understanding and acknowledging the philosophy of “I can.” The Primary VOICE 20 hour professional development program for primary grade teachers is designed in such a way, that it facilitates them to help increase in their kids – the understanding of governance, participation, responsibility, and conflict resolution.

At the meeting that took place last week, the teachers shared classroom experiences, discussed reading extensions, and shared and assessed student work. Sandra, a 3rd grade teacher says, “It was really great that the teachers themselves did the activities and discussions, instead of having someone just give us a textbook explanation. It has helped me understand the value and benefit of some of these core lessons. I had to think strategically, which means my students will have to as well.”

Sandra’s favorite part of the workshop was when CRFC staff analyzed a few selected children’s books, and obtained from them the lessons of equality, responsibility, conflict resolution and governance.

Celeste, a kindergarten teacher was particularly moved by the Candy Store – a story about a young child, facing and fighting racial prejudices. She says, “My kids come from different ethnic backgrounds, and oftentimes are unable to completely understand the cultural nuances of their classmates. Stories like these will resonate and develop an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding.”

While Rosa, a 3rd grade teacher, was deeply impacted with Amelia’s Road – a tale of a daughter of migrant farm workers, who dreams of a stable home. She reflects, “Many of my students come from broken homes, with separated or divorced parents. A story about a child their age, craving stability, and overcoming odds, penetrates their hearts – and the lesson learnt, stays on to serve a much higher purpose.”

Along with this, the teachers were also introduced to the State v. Wolf Mock Trial Program –Based on the story of “The Three Little Pigs,” State v. Wolf gives primary students the chance to participate in the jury system, with opportunities to practice important critical reading, listening, thinking, and deliberating skills.

All in all, this is a fantastic professional development session, hosted by CRFC and generously funded by Polk Bros. Foundation. Apart from the insightful learnings, teachers are also given CPDUs and a stipend, to be a part of this change-enabling literacy program.

Personally, I would recommend this program to every primary teacher in Illinois. Take time out of your summer for just 2 days – and see yourself empowered with the knowledge and acumen, to enlighten your students for the upcoming school year- and perhaps the rest of their lives!


20140218_184037 - CopyJuly 14, 2014

By Palak Shukla.

Ms. Shukla is CRFC’s Summer Marketing and Communications intern. She is originally from Mumbai, India has 3 years of experience in Communications. She is now studying Digital Media at Loyola University.


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