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 5: Patriotism & Foreign Policy  
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Workshop 5

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Lesson Plan: Context

Alice Chandler has been a social studies and special education teacher at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. since 1994. She holds a Master of Arts in special education from the University of the District of Columbia, a Bachelor of Arts with a major in sociology and a minor in history from Howard University in Washington, D.C., and has done graduate work in American history at Howard University. For a number of years, Alice Chandler worked on the Integrated Curriculum Development Project at Ellington, developing social studies lessons for a Smithsonian Institution-developed curriculum. She is also a consultant to the local affiliate of the National Writing Project.

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts is a public magnet school within the District of Columbia Public Schools that began in 1974 to provide an environment where students of color could gain tools to achieve cultural equality. In addition to seven arts disciplines--dance, literary and media arts, museum studies, music, theater, technical theater, and visual arts--the school offers a full academic college preparatory program. Students come to Ellington with various levels of academic achievement; this class includes several special education students. Ellington provides classes ranging from basic reading and math refresher courses to college-level English, pre-calculus, advanced U.S. history, and advanced biology. Ellington’s social studies department is reputed to be one of the best in the city. Because the school is in the middle of Washington, D.C., its students are probably more exposed to politics and political activity than most high school students, including seeing Washington’s monuments on a regular basis, passing through the area of the city in which most foreign embassies are located, witnessing numerous traffic stops as the President and other dignitaries pass through the city, and seeing and/or participating in a variety of political rallies.

U.S. Government is a one-semester course for seniors taught on a block-period schedule. Alice Chandler often organizes the course in what she calls “portfolio mode,” a series of papers or examinations that the students complete during an advisory period. In one advisory period, she might focus on the U.S. Constitution, in another--on political parties. Teachers at Ellington are encouraged to integrate academic subjects with the arts. During the advisory period prior to this lesson, for example, students had to choose a book and/or video that dealt with both the United States government and the art form they are studying. A theater major, for example, might have done a project on Paul Robeson that explored both his acting and his political activism.


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