The educators profiled in this workshop were interviewed several times
during the course of the lesson featured in each program. Here you can
read their reflections on the featured lesson, their evolution and practice
as teachers and their thoughts about civics and constructivist methodologies.
Kristen Borges, who majored in political science
and has a Master’s degree in social sciences, has been teaching
at Southwest High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for the last six years.
In these interview excerpts, she talks about her constructivist approach
to teaching civics during a lesson in which her students are engaged in
a simulation of a Supreme Court trial on a First Amendment case.
Jose E. Velazquez, who has been teaching in
the Newark, New Jersey Public Schools since 1987, teaches Law and Action
to seniors at University High School. In these interview excerpts, he
talks about his use of constructivist methodologies and his class’s
involvement in the Newark Student Voices Project, a nationally funded
initiative in selected cities that involves youth in local political issues
Leslie Martin teaches a two-semester course
on economic, legal, and political systems to ninth-grade students at West
Forsyth High School in Clemmons, North Carolina. The course is called
a freshman seminar in recognition of the fact that more than half of these
students are considered gifted. These interview excerpts relate to a lesson
in which students participated in a simulation, assuming roles first as
the President and Presidential advisors and then as Members of Congress
to develop and negotiate a Federal budget.
Matt Johnson teaches constitutional law to
seniors at Benjamin Banneker Senior High School in Washington, D.C. These
interview excerpts relate to a simulation he created on developing a constitution
for a hypothetical country.
Alice Chandler teaches U.S. government to seniors
at Duke Ellington High School of The Arts in Washington, D.C. These interview
excerpts relate to her lesson on patriotism and foreign policy in which
the students worked in committees to design a Museum of Patriotism and
Bill Mittlefehldt teaches human geography,
a social studies elective, to juniors and seniors at Anoka High School
in Anoka, Minnesota, a suburb of the Twin Cities. During the nine-week
course, students work in teams on a service-learning project in which
they identify a community issue related to their curriculum, select a
community partner whose work involves the issue, research the dimensions
of the problem, brainstorm potential solutions to the problem, and present
their ideas to the City Council.
JoEllen Ambrose, who has been teaching social
studies for 23 years, teaches law to seniors at Champlin Park High School
in Champlin, Minnesota. In these interview excerpts, she talks about her
approach to discussing controversial issues in the classroom. The particular
issue her class debated was racial profiling. The discussion was governed
by a formal process called “structured controversy” that was
developed by Roger T. Johnson and David W. Johnson of the Cooperative
Learning Center at the University of Minnesota.
Matt Johnson, who has been in the social studies
department at Benjamin Banneker Senior High School in Washington, D.C.
for 10 years, is seen in the workshop video teaching a senior honors-level
law class. In these interview excerpts, he discusses why he uses constructivist
teaching methodologies and their connection to civics education. The lesson
involves small student teams presenting both sides of an argument to a
panel of Supreme Court Justices. The case is a hypothetical one developed
by the teacher that focuses on the subject of the constitutional rights
and responsibilities of students.
Back to the Top