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Classes in Conversation

In all, four classes participated in an e-mail exchange in 1996 — Ms. Jones and Ms. Rotter led classes for Meadow Ridge Elementary in Kent, and Ms. Bibbs and Ms. Cox led the third-grade classes in Birmingham.

This page contains the e-mail exchange between the classes led by Ms. Rotter and Ms. Bibbs.

Read the other two classes' conversation.


Jan. 10, 1996

Dear Ms. Bibbs' 3rd Grade class,

Greetings from Washington!! We are very excited to be participating in this wonderful and unique project. Now that the holidays are over and school is in session, we find that our lives are back to normal.

Both Mrs. Jones' class and my own have begun our study of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We started the week by brainstorming both, "What we know about MLK Jr." and "What we want to know about MLK Jr." Our facts are as follows:

  • He was an African American.
  • He had a dream.
  • He was shot and killed.
  • He fought for freedom for all people.
  • He believed in equality for all.
  • He helped many people.
  • He was a very nice and caring man.
  • He believed in non-violence.
In our class, Mrs. Rotter's, we want to find out the following things:
  • "Did he become a minister?" asked Brittnee.
  • "Who shot him?" wondered the class.
  • "How old was he when he died?" asked Sonya.
  • "When was he born?" asked Kayla.
  • "Did he have any other dreams?" wondered Peter.
  • "What kinds of jobs did he have?" asked Justin.
Some of our questions were answered as we read a book entitled, Martin Luther King Jr., by Rae Bains. We eagerly await answers to our additional questions as we continue our research of this great man.

Today, in Mrs. Jones' class, we discussed Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech. After a productive brainstorming session talking about our dreams for the world, we wrote our own ending to "I Have A Dream....." Here are a few of our dreams:

"I Have A Dream....."

  • people will stop fighting. by Amber
  • everyone will have a home. by Rebekah
  • everyone will live in Peace. by Austin
  • there will be no violence. by Keith
  • more people would believe in Dr. King's dream. by Nick
  • people will take care of their environment. by D.J.
Here are a few projects we will be completing with our children. They include constructing a Peace Chain, building a class quilt consisting of important pieces of his life, celebrating with music, and creating an art project entitled, "Children of the World." We look forward to sharing these projects with you and learning about your studies of Dr. King.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Jones' 3rd Grade
Mrs. Rotter's 3rd Grade
Meadow Ridge Elementary


Jan. 19, 1996

Hello,

We were delighted to hear from you and about all the wonderful things going on in your class. We have been very busy also. We learned some fascinating things about Dr. King. We read "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day", and "Martin Luther King Jr.: A Biography for Young Children".

We have also asked and answered the question: "Would you or would you not have participated in the Civil Rights struggle, and why?"

Here are some of the students' responses:

  • Tiffany: "Yes, I would have. I believe everyone has the right to be treated equally."

  • Lymere: "Yes, because the struggle was nonviolent. "

  • William: "Yes, I would have wanted to be treated like everyone else."

  • Charnita: "Yes, I believe everyone should love each other and not hate."

  • Trenika: "Yes, I feel that it is not right to be treated different just because of your color."
The students also answered in essay style the question: "Do You Think Dr. King's Dream Has Come True?"

In addition to the regular spelling list for the week, these vocabulary words were introduced to the students: equality, civil rights, boycott, demonstration, and justice. They were asked to give their definitions of the words after learning the formal definitions.

We toured the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, located in what is known as the "Black Business District". Jillita enjoyed seeing the bus that duplicated the one Rosa Parks rode on. Trenika liked the films showing Dr. King's speeches. Charnita was most interested in the old-time jukebox that featured black entertainers like Cab Calloway when he played at Tuxedo Junction, Bessie Smith, and Louie "Satchmo" Armstrong.

Across the street from the museum, we saw the historical Sixteenth Street Baptist Church where the four young girls were killed in the infamous bombing of the church one Sunday morning. Dr. King often rallied here with the "freedom fighters".

We walked through Kelly Ingram Park and saw a statue tribute to Dr. King and the Birmingham movement. Kelly Ingram Park was the site of much racial conflict and demonstrations.

Our next project will kick off our celebration of "Black History Month." Scrapbooks on famous African-Americans designed by the students will be displayed for the school. We also are planning to create a mini-museum of Africa entitled, "The Motherland".

We will keep you informed as our projects progess. Additionally, we will send some photos from our museum tour. We hope you will send us some photos of your activities, too. Keep us posted.

Your B'HAM Pals,

Mrs. Bibbs and class

Inglenook Elementary School
4120 Inglenook Street
Birmingham, Al 35217


Jan. 31, 1996

Dear Birmingham Friends in Mrs. Bibbs' class,

We are so sorry that we have not responded for quite some time. Last week was extremely busy for us, and this week our area has been covered with ice and snow.

Monday was a Teacher Workshop Day and Tuesday we had "No School" due to snow. Today, Wednesday, we were 2 hours late and we just found out that tomorrow, Thursday, we will be 1 hour late. Needless to say we have been on a mixed-up schedule. The funny thing about living in Western Washington is that we don't get very much snow — so when we do get some, we tend to close school. I'm sure people that live in Wisconsin or Illinois for example, would be chuckling to themselves about our school closures. The ice has been bad this past week, and few people have been able to go anywhere.

We were so excited to receive your letter! We have so many questions and are looking forward to hearing about your trip to the Museum. We just finished an art project entitled Circle of Friends. We folded tagboard paper and cut using a pattern, forming 4 people standing in a circle all holding hands and thus connected. We then talked about all the different nationalities that make up this great world. Our assignment was to create a circle of friends — each one wearing a different outfit, and having a different skin tone. You should've seen them!! They look so neat and Mrs. Rotter hung them up outside on a bulletin board. We have received many compliments from students, parents, and teachers. Through completing this project we learned that it doesn't matter what you look like, what color your skin is, or what type of clothes you wear. What does matter is what's inside!!

Our final project dealing with Dr. King was making a quilt. Each child received a quilt square and we had to draw a picture of Dr. King in the center. Around the 4 outer sections we had to draw pictures and write words that were important to Dr. King and his work. Some examples of our important words were:

  • Peace and harmony
  • Love
  • Family and friends
  • Freedom and justice
  • Togetherness
  • Hope and happiness
Examples of pictures that we drew were:
  • Two hands together
  • A heart
  • Dr. King and his family
  • Two people working together
We worked with Mrs. Jones' class and then our teachers put the squares together to form one big quilt for our school to see and enjoy.

Although Martin Luther King Jr.'s holiday is over, his dream and messages still live on in our hearts. We remember them everyday and practice his belief of "non-violence" as often as we can.

We thought you might like to know what other things we have been learning about. Our biggest unit right now is Tall Tales. We have been reading about Pecos Bill, John Henry, Paul Bunyan, and Stormalong the Sailor. The best thing about Tall Tales is the exaggerations. We have had a lot of fun writing our own exaggerations and illustrating them. They sure can be funny. Other things we have been working on include: cursive writing, subtraction with borrowing, writing poetry, and getting ready for our 3rd/4th grade musical which will be on February 15th. We will write more on that later. The other exciting event is that Mrs. Rotter got some free tickets to go see The University of Washington women's gymnastics team perform next Friday, February 9th in Seattle. Right now we are working on getting our parents to sign up so we can all go together with Mrs. Rotter. She was a gymnast in her "younger" days as she puts it. The only criterion is that you have to have a parent go along. Our parents get a free ticket too. We'll let you know next time how many of us went.

Well, other than being really cold — it's been in the low 20's — we are all fine. We will not wait so long to write next time, ok? We hope you have a great week and weekend and will talk to you again soon. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Rotter's 3rd grade class
and your new friends!!!




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