Video Writing Prompt: Revolutionary Optimists

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Children are working to save lives in poor areas of Kolkata, India. They work to combat poverty, forced child labor and, through their efforts, dramatically transform their neighborhoods.

That’s the premise of The Revolutionary Optimists, a documentary airing on PBS’ Independent Lens. Filmed over the course of several years, the film shows young people as change makers, fighting for a better future.

After viewing the clip with your students, ask them to complete the following writing exercises, which are designed to enhance both their writing and critical thinking skills.

Grades 3-5

In the clip Amlan Ganguly talks about the ways his work with the children empowers them to fight for a better life for themselves, their friends, and future generations. Have students write a paragraph describing the one person in their life who inspires them to be the best they can be.

Grades 6-8

The children Amlan Ganguly works with goes to community elders to ask for a new playground and other things.  Instruct your students to write a one-page essay that explains what neighborhood improvements they would ask their elected officials to make. The paper should detail the ways those improvements would enhance everyday life for the community’s residents.

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Grades 9-12

The beginning of the clip shows very young children making bricks, when they should be going to school. Have your students write a two-page essay that explores how lack of education keeps children and, ultimately, an entire community in poverty. Instruct them to include a paragraph or two that describes how their lives would be affected if they were not afforded the opportunity to attend school.