Asking Big Questions with the 2017 Facing History Student Essay Contest

Facing History's essay contest prompts students to reflect on civic participation and ethical decision-making by asking them to write about a person or text that has shaped the way they think about what it means to make moral choices. I came to the teaching profession with big ambitions. Like many readers of this blog, I imagine, I’ve always loved learning, and I enjoy the effervescent and unpredictable company of kids. As a first-generation college graduate, I know firsthand how education can transform an individual’s life. But I also entered the classroom with the conviction that schools have a communal and civic purpose, too—that they are the root and heart of democratic societies. It’s one thing to hold these lofty beliefs and it's something entirely different to know how to teach towards those civic aspirations every day, lesson by lesson and semester by semester. There’s so much to teach—such big swaths of history and literature, so many facts, dates, and vocabulary words, not to mention how to read a primary source or write a research paper. The pressure of passing along all this knowledge can leave little space for wisdom. After a few years in the classroom, and especially after I...
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‘Read Brave’ Fosters Passionate Reading and Intergenerational Dialogue

Read Brave is a city-wide one book project in Saint Paul, Minnesota, facilitated by a small but passionate group from the Saint Paul Public Library’s Createch program, part of the YOUmedia Learning Labs Network. Marika Staloch, one of the facilitators, recently spoke with K-Fai Steele, of the YOUmedia Network and the National Writing Project. You can listen to the full interview below. Youth Services Coordinator Marika Staloch came upon the idea for Read Brave a few years ago, during a conversation with young adult author A.S. King. Staloch had been considering ways to improve attendance and engagement at the library’s author events, and King shared the success of a one book project she’d been a part of in a smaller town. Staloch loved the idea and soon the project was born, with King signed up to be its first author. Today, the project reaches teens and adults all over the city. Each year the library chooses a young adult novel, and works with partners to get the book in as many hands as possible. School and community groups meet to discuss the book, culminating in two days of talks and workshops put on by the author themselves. “They come in...
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BREAK THE SUPER BOWL 2017: #WOMENNOTOBJECTS

  • on Feb 17
  • in The LAMP
  • by Educator Innovator

For this year's Break the Super Bowl advertisement remixing event, The Lamp focused on the representation of women in partnership with the #WomenNotObjects campaign. 2017 seems like a good year to start doing things differently. So, we added a theme to Break the Super Bowl: #womennotobjects. This is also the first year we held the party at an advertising agency. Badger & Winters Group are the award-winning firm behind the campaign to stop objectifying women through commercials and advertising, and they graciously agreed to host our students as they settled in for a night of breaking, learning and talking back to media. Having the event at an actual ad company proved to be a huge benefit for the students. We were really lucky to also have generous staff from Badger & Winter on hand to share an insider’s view of how commercials are produced. Copywriter Regina explained the importance of building a customer’s loyalty to a particular brand, and Madonna Badger herself was present to offer insight about how a Super Bowl Buick commercial represented Miranda Kerr (hint: not with the same respect as Cam Newton, who appeared in the same spot). She also shared her moving story with our...
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Teens at the Nexus of Fashion, Gaming, and Technology

A program based in Brooklyn, NY, makes learning enticing for teenagers, combining topics they might already know a thing or two about: fashion, technology, and video games. “Playable Fashion” began in 2012 as an afterschool program at the nonprofit art and technology studio Eyebeam. Today the teenage participants learn about electronics, coding, and “wearable technology” (think light-up shirts or “smart” watches). Ultimately, some design and create their own wearable video games—with controllers made out of gloves with built-in hand sensors that control what is happening on the screen. Aided in part by an LRNG grant, the program has been able to investigate how to adapt the curriculum beyond the afterschool program for use in other settings. The LRNG grants stem from a partnership between the National Writing Project and John Legend’s Show Me Campaign to help educators extend time and space for connected learning. The connected learning theory posits that learning happens on a continuum—in school, as well as at home, work, and among friends—and is driven by students’ own interests and life experiences. [caption id="attachment_11996" align="alignright" width="450"] Photo/Global Kids[/caption] With funding from LRNG and other sources, the Playable Fashion creators have taught workshops for teens at other community sites,...
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