STRIKE! STRIKE! STRIKE!
by Renee Allen
Renee Allen is a multi-hyphenate Jamaican-born, Toronto-based, writer-educator, with a passion for working with children and youth. She is deeply committed to work that interrogates and addresses interlocking systems of oppression. Her writing appears in Zora, THIS magazine and PREE. Renee is also a recent graduate of the Masters of Teaching program at the University of Toronto, with a book collection that keeps outgrowing her bookcase.
*These questions can be used to guide your discussion at the beginning of the lesson time.*
Overarching Critical Inquiry Question
How can united voices advocate for a common cause?
Overarching Critical Task
Using an accessible medium, create a product expressing solidarity with a current labour movement. (e.g. letters, picket sign, slogan banner etc.)
Lesson Critical Inquiry Question
What parallels are there between the impact of collective action in The Day the Crayons Quit and the Nine Hour Movement?
Lesson Critical Inquiry Task
Consider a current labour movement (education workers, Amazon workers, migrant farmworkers, etc.) and create signage or organize a letter-writing campaign in support of their cause (communicate your cause with a catchy title, invoke action using assertive language, use words that connect with your intended audience etc.).
Central Ideas/Learning Goals
- Make connections between collective action and movement organizing initiatives in The Day the Crayons Quit and the Nine Hour Movement
- Unpack and understand the plight of workers in labour movements
- Determine roles in a labour movement/implications of lost labour and resolutions to end strikes
- Identify a modern labour movement and show solidarity through signs or letters
- Effective communication
- Critical assessment of events
- Problem solving
- Analytical skills
- Historical context
- Conflict resolution
In this lesson, students will draw parallels between The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and the Nine Hour Movement. Through exploring The Day the Crayons Quit, students will identify the important roles that exist in the labour movement and how they collectively contribute to achieving shared goals. To do this, students will use mind maps or other graphic organizers to identify the role of each crayon in the story and draw parallels with the Nine Hour Movement. As the lesson progresses, students will develop an understanding of the plight of the crayons and identify a modern labour movement they would like to show solidarity with. The lesson concludes with students creating signage or a letter-writing campaign in support of their chosen labour movement.
Materials & Preparation Required
- Teaching Tool: An Introduction to Labour
- The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
- Appendix 1: The Day the Crayons Quit Discussion Questions
- Mind Map: Crayon Movement Makers
- Mind Map: Parallels between the Nine Hour Movement and Crayon Movement Makers
- Kids Show Their BLM Signs
Launching the Learning
Read The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt as a class.
Create a list of new characters as they’re introduced.
Building Important Background Knowledge
- Use Teaching Tool: An Introduction to Labour to create a foundation of understanding about the Nine Hour Movement
- Use Appendix 1: The Day the Crayons Quit Discussion Questions, as an entry point into discussing the text. Through this discussion, students will explore the building blocks necessary for the creation of a labour movement and how collective action builds momentum among participants.
- Provide students with Mind Map: Crayon Movement Makers. In small groups or individually, invite students to identify members of the labour movement in The Day the Crayons Quit and determine their respective role. Students can compare responses to determine similarities and differences in their perspectives.
- Provide students with Mind Map: Parallels. In small groups or individually, invite them to make connections between key players in the Nine Hour Movement and The Day the Crayons Quit. As a class, each group should appoint a representative to share their responses and identify similarities and differences in their perspectives.
- Ask students to research/brainstorm a list of modern labour movements and identify one they would like to show solidarity with.
Appendix 1: The Day the Crayons Quit Discussion Questions
- Based on the cover, what assumptions can you make about the story?
- Why might the letters at the beginning of the book be addressed to Duncan?
- What do you notice about the language used in crayons’ letters to Duncan?
- How do they communicate the concerns about their working conditions?
- What do you notice about the crayon’s closings at the end of their letters?
- How do each of the letters contribute to the crayons’ strike?
- Which crayons’ plight do you identify with most?
- How might Duncan resolve the concerns raised by the crayons?
- How might the crayons and Duncan have felt at the end of the book?
Set the Task
Inform students that they will be creating signage or a letter-writing campaign to show solidarity with a labour movement they’ve previously identified. Both products should:
- Clearly communicate intention
- Identify the labour movement being represented
- Use effective and powerful language
Explore Kids Show Their BLM Signs to give students reference points about protest signs. The letters the crayons wrote in the story can be used as a reference point for letter-writing campaigns.
Co-create Success Criteria for Signage/Letters
Collaborate with students to create a list of criteria they can use to evaluate the effectiveness of their products (signage or letters)
Success criteria might consider:
- Effectiveness of language used to clearly communicate the product’s message
- Connection to a modern labour movement is clear, based on the intended audience
- Intention behind the product is easy to decipher
- Layout and design reflect alignment with the labour movement’s core message
Provide students with an opportunity to showcase their products, both digitally or in-person, depending on the most accessible format. Potential ways to showcase work:
- Create gallery showcase
- Display on bulletin board outside classroom, with students’ consent
- Student presentations