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 7: Controversial Public Policy Issues  
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Workshop 7

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Teacher Perspectives: Using technology

JoEllen Ambrose: Technology has an important role in the classroom but it’s just a process. It’s not the end all. This particular lesson you did not see the kids using a lot of technology for their research. However, I did, and they could have if I had wanted to make that part of the lesson. In using racial profiling as my search, I got into a variety of Web sites and pulled articles based on this topic. Oftentimes, that kind of an Internet search takes kids way beyond where I want them to be, and I don’t know how to pull them back. They need to get the skill for technology, but I pick and choose what lessons I’m going to teach that in, and this wasn’t one.

Another issue is that our building is dealing with a filter we are piloting. A topic like racial profiling is not an easy topic because many sites that have very valid information, like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is a watch group for hate crimes and things like that, may not get through the filter. We’re trying to work through the quirks about what they can get at and what they can’t get at.

I use the Internet in another project where I ask kids to find out about community agencies. I’m amazed at the quality of Web pages for different sources of information. Our own attorney general’s office has done a really nice job pulling together very basic consumer law information. I give them a list of Web resources that they can use at any time to research current events, like the Supreme Court site or the Cornell site or FindLaw or USA Today. They have three pages of Web sites that I find particularly appropriate. How they use that, I’m not quite sure, but I try to build it into a research project that they do in another piece of the class.

The kinds of video that I use I think through very carefully. Kids today are not real happy with the traditional documentary. People talking to kids on a video about law issues is a snoozer. I’ve got one that goes through each of the amendments and why it’s important and I can’t keep them engaged. The best video is one that can be dynamic in its presentation and stir them up but at the same time, not build stereotypes of the criminal [or] generalizations about law or groups. I don’t want to reinforce that so I’m very careful about entertainment movies.


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