Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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  Making Civics Real: A Workshop for Teachers  
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Teacher Perspectives

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.

Teacher Perspectives
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.

Teacher Perspectives
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 and campaigns.

Teacher Perspectives
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.

Teacher Perspectives
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.

Teacher Perspectives
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 Foreign Policy.

Teacher Perspectives
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.

Teacher Perspectives
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.

Teacher Perspectives
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.

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