Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Making Civics Real Workshop 1: Freedom of Religion  
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Workshop 1

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Lesson Plan
Teacher Perspectives
Student Perspectives
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Teacher Perspectives: What makes cooperative learning successful

Kristen Borges: For students to be successful in this type of experience, early on in the year the teacher has to really be able to establish a sense of community in the classroom and to work towards that sense of community in all of their teaching. The students need to be able to really get to know each other and to be able to learn how to work well with each other no matter what the personality differences might be, how controversial the issue is, and how far apart on the issue they may be. That can start in the first days of the year with some community-building activities. I spent a lot of time with my students in building relationships—building relationships among the students and also myself building a relationship with them. Oftentimes they’ll be put in groups that they might not necessarily be friends with or hang out with outside of the classroom. But inside of the classroom it’s always an accepted practice that they’ll work with whomever they get paired up with.

I was hoping that by putting them into these roles where they are actually performing, there would be more engagement, more motivation, and more connectedness than the students would normally have with the subject. The advantage of this type of performance in the classroom is that the students become more motivated to participate, they buy into their role. But at the same time, it’s rooted in a discipline and it’s rooted in specific civics education about the foundations of our government. So they’re taking information that might be seen as very sterile or foreign to them in a textbook and making it come alive by actually role-playing and performing in a simulation. They seem to have more real connections to the topic. They ask about students’ personal experiences when we’re dealing with these types of issues. They like to start there.


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