Studying Power In the Classroom and Beyond

By Wendy Leitner-Sieber

Happy New Year!

Our second and third grade group has been busy studying the theme of power this school year. We have spent a lot of time discussing thematic questions, such as: What is power? and Who has power? Please look at our initial brainstorming charts below:


Students have explored different ways to answer the aforementioned thematic questions by analyzing picture books. Through their study, students have identified powerful characters and powerless characters; categorized those who traditionally holds power in picture books; inferred why certain groups are not shown in power positions; and have evaluated whether characters use their power in positive or negative ways.  Below are some of our favorite picture books that feature powerful figures.

PowerReadAloud  ReadAloud2   ReadAloud3 ReadAloud4  ReadAloud5 ReadAloud6

In the beginning of the year, as we were introducing the concept of power, our conversations were teacher-initiated. Over the last month, there has been a shift towards student-initiated conversations. Students are beginning to look at their world and wonder, “who is powerful and who is powerless?” Through their natural inquiry, our second and third graders have led power-based discussions ranging from their ideas about the Black Lives Matter movement to the power dynamics of our forts in Miquon’s Monkey Land. It is inspiring to see that our students are starting to analyze power in the world outside of picture books and the classroom.

As students’ analysis is extending beyond the classroom, we started to ask, “How can we exercise power?” Students discovered that one way to exercise their own power is through letter writing. Writing letters of all types, including opinion letters and persuasive letters, will be the focus of our latest Writer’s Workshop unit.

Of course, we could not help get this unit started by visiting the local Post Office to understand the process of mail delivery.



The students are now leading their work on power. We are excited to see what issues students will take on through their persuasive and opinion-based letter writing. The energy, enthusiasm, and leadership that our powerful students have brought to this thematic study is quite impressive!