Friday, October 7, 2016

This week's walk-around - Thinking Critically about Election 2016

One of the challenges facing teachers right now is how to approach the upcoming presidential elections, especially with all of the rhetoric and emotion involved it can be a difficult topic to navigate with young adolescents.  But it also presents a great opportunity to help our students develop many elements that are part of the transferable standard of Informed and Integrative Thinking.  

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This week when I dropped into Sam Nelson's and Carly Bennett's Humanity's class, I found students at work on a variety of activities designed to help them explore some of the key issues that are helping define the campaign.  Here are a few photos of what I saw:  

Using the new library whiteboard tables to understand the electoral college system

using a chromebook to research information about "swing" states and poll results on various issues

reviewing and summarizing articles exploring gender bias in the US

The new whiteboard wall highlights a quiz Friday on the issues these students are working to review

Breaking down an article on US Immigration - another issue of the campaign
The social studies teachers on all three teams worked together to create this approach to the election through the lens of the issues - helping students understand both the process of how an election is conducted in the US (ie. the Electoral College) but more importantly what concerns seem to be resonating across the country.  This is a conscious choice - avoiding an analysis of candidates but instead focusing on the skill of using various sources of information to identify patterns, trends and relationships in the midst of the conversations within the election dialogue.   Will students develop opinions about various candidates - certainly, but the goal is not to have them focus on who they identify with but help them identify the elements of the important issues to help them learn to analyze, synthesize and evaluate the overwhelming volume of messages that we all will be facing over the coming weeks.    One project many students will be engaging in is a letter to the future president sharing their views on one or more of the important issues of the campaign - providing them an appropriate communication platform to share this research and their own opinions and thinking. 

My walkaround also found a wonderful surprise - an impromptu art project on the walls of Holden created by 8th graders Elsa Lindenmeyr, Delaney Miller-Bottoms and Lena Ashooh. What a great daily reminder of these standards, which are not only important in our daily learning at SCS but will serve as the graduation proficiencies of Act 77 for any students heading on to CVU.    Thanks for sharing your talents with us!  

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