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 8: Rights and Responsibilities of Students  
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Workshop 7

Workshop Session
Lesson Plan
Teacher Perspectives
Student Perspectives
Essential Readings
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Student Perspectives: Matt Johnson's teaching style

Ashley: Mr. Johnson is one of the best teachers because he teaches us to work more independently or he teaches us to work more in groups. The teacher may be the one that's supplying us with the information, but he teaches us to rely more on ourselves, or to work with someone else, instead of just relying on the teacher to take us by the hand through an assignment. In a real world, no one is going to take you by the hand and lead you through anything. You have to do it on your own. If we learn that now, we'll be more prepared in the future.

Dana: Mr. Johnson is a cool teacher. He's very understanding, but when it comes time for business he [says], "You need to knuckle down and do this." When it seems as if he's too demanding, to the point where he gives so much work that you're about to break, he'll pull back a little bit, and he's like, "Well, maybe we can compromise on this." He's very forgiving in some instances, too. If you don't do your homework, he'll at least give you an extra day or two to turn it in. He knows a lot, he's very cognizant of what's going on in the world around us, and he pretty much applies the knowledge that he has learned to this class. It's not just law class, it's world class if you ask me. The things we learn we can apply to anything that's going on.

Kayeen: I think Mr. Johnson is a great teacher. I take him for D.C. Government and for Law and I always look forward to both classes. In D.C. Government, we always did hands-on things. He replaced our final exam with a project where we each had to choose a topic that has to do with D.C. Government, go out and find facts about this topic, take at least 12 pictures of something that had to do with this topic, and [make] a calendar where you have the pictures on the top and on the bottom you have your facts put in on different days. Everybody thought it would be easy, but everybody's starting to find out that it's more difficult than was expected. But it's still more fun than sitting down for two and a half hours and taking a final exam.

I have a personal relationship with him because he was very supportive of me in the moot court competition. Sometimes we can joke around and things like that. He's not dead serious in class. Even when a kid might act a bit disrespectful, that doesn't affect him. He can shrug it off and maybe even make a joke about it and keep going. The kid doesn't feel the need to act disrespectful because he's not really getting too much attention for it.

Latia: He's fun and he lets us speak our voice. I guess that's what makes this class better. It's not just him talking. He lets all of us voice our opinions. It brings excitement to the class. We share our opinions and he puts his input in. He lets us have freedom of speech. Usually he'll give us something to read first. Then he'll lecture to make sure we understand. Next, we voice our opinion. He combines three different types of teaching. I guess that's what makes the learning better, and it helps me retain. We know our side from reading it, his side from going over it verbally, lecturing, and then the students going over it together.

Otis: You really don't see Mr. Johnson as a teacher. You kind of see him as your peer who is just a little bit smarter than you. He's really down to earth. The quizzes are hard, but by the same token, when he teaches, it's always one-on-one. You can express yourself. Your opinion counts. It's not me lecturing you. It's me starting off but then the whole class kind of teaches each other based on the conversations and stuff you read. So really I see him as a facilitator directing the conversation after he has set the standard of what you should know. Basically the rest of the class is your personal opinion about what you learned, how this affects you, how it doesn't, “what-if” scenarios.

Troy: I consider Mr. Johnson my friend. I take two classes with him so he and I have had a whole lot of time to interact. We talk about things going on in school, outside of school. Because of the mock trial, he was able to meet my family. He gives me little tips that I can use at home and tells me things that he thinks might help me on my way to college.

Zaneta: Mr. Johnson is not like most teachers because he makes things fun. He talks to us like we're adults and he treats us like adults. He never yells at us or scolds us or makes us do busy work. Everything he teaches us and tells us to do is for a reason. He's really nice and he helps us with whatever we need and understands us. His door is always open to us. Mr. Johnson would never tell us what to [do with] a case; he would just ask us questions and get our minds going. When he would ask us questions, we would say, "Oh yeah, I remember that." We didn't want him to tell us, of course, or we wouldn't learn anything. Once he tried to get us going, we really started to think and find points that would help us. He'll ask, "Do you remember any case that would have to do with anything like this?" and we'll answer the question and go on from there. It's like an outline. He gives us the topic and we have to fill in the ABCs and the 1-2-3.


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