Archive for the ‘21st Century Education’ Tag

The State of Social Studies in CT

The state of social studies in Connecticut mirrors and amplifies the state of social studies education in the rest of the nation. Some of the major issues include an unapproved, draft curriculum frameworks, no social studies consultant at the Connecticut State Department of Education, and no official position statement from the state at all. This is a dangerous cocktail for apathy. Without these three critical components, Connecticut champions mediocrity when it comes to social studies education. This is especially concerning when you consider that the purpose of social studies is to produced an engaged citizenry endowed with skills such as critical thinking, empathy, and collaboration.

However so much that it seems like the Nutmeg State is disinterested with social studies education, there is hope. First, the state recently convened a committee to craft a curriculum framework based on the recently released College, Career, and Civic Life social studies framework. The forthcoming CT document is slated to put inquiry at the heart of the social studies classroom and provide students with an authentic social studies experience that will benefit them long after they graduate high school. If this committee holds true to their charge, this will be a giant step forward for the state of social studies in the land of steady habits.

Another layer to this silver lining lies with the efforts of the Honorable Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill. Social Studies has a true friend in Secretary Merrill. At a recent Social Studies Conference held at Central Connecticut State University, Merrill touted the importance of Social Studies education and her commitment to a quality social studies education for all of Connecticut’s students. With such an important person in our corner, Connecticut should be able to attain a social studies position statement to guide instruction and policy at all levels, a curriculum framework that promotes purposeful and powerful social studies education within our schools, and a social studies consultant to assist districts and teachers in meeting the demands of the 21st century.

In order to meet this goal, social studies education in Connecticut needs your help. First and foremost, contact Denise Merrill’s office to express your support for purposeful and powerful social studies education. While you are at it, contact your state representative and senator. Then, go to the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies Public Affairs Committee website to sign up for updates and to participate in one thing per month to promote social studies education. Finally, spread the word that we need a better stated of social studies education in Connecticut. Our democracy depends on it.

For your reference:
Office of the Secretary of the State
State of Connecticut
30 Trinity Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Telephone: (860) 509-6200
Twitter: @SOTSMerrill


CRELI 2013 Project Descriptions

Here is a description of all of the student projects in the students own words. They did a great job creating projects that honor and sustain diversity.

Balloon Madness

Based on reflection and discussion, we decided to alter the day’s schedule and end the program today with a team/class builder.  This was especially helpful after today.  Many of the project teams are feeling the pressure of student-centered learning and a deadline.  In this activity, the students join hands and work as a team to keep balloons adrift.  The teams start with one balloon and then we add more and more until it is just madness.  We were fortunate enough for some just-graduated alumni (2013) to stop by and participate.



For those looking for the progress that the students made, see the slideshow below.  Today, we took the reigns off of the teams a bit.  In the morning, we pulled the student leaders out and let the teams work on their own.  Although these rising freshmen and sophomores experienced a little anxiety at first, they rose to the occasion and were able to make really great progress.  For the teams that were more autonomous, we removed all of the scaffolding and set them to work on their own.  The student leaders that were assigned to the groups were transitioned into special projects.  One student became an overall project manager that worked with students to set goals to complete their projects.  Another pair of students were charged with helping the teams develop their public presentations.  Groups that continued to struggle received either the same supports or more support depending on their need.



CRELI “Get to Know You” Bingo

Using a bingo card featuring get to know you questions, the scholars, student leaders, and educators spent some time in the shade getting to know one another. With prompts such as “Has been to a foreign country” and “Has a pet,” participants asked each other questions, engaged in conversation and learned something about each other. Listening and getting to know people from various backgrounds is one way to honor diversity.

CRELI Team Project Promotion

CRELI Team Project Promotion

In this photo, a rising Sophomore and a rising Freshman are creating a banner to recruit people to tell their story on video as a way to honor and sustain diversity. They will collect a variety of personal accounts to highlight the diverse backgrounds represented in CRELI and CT River Academy.

CRELI Student Leader Communication Training

CRELI Student Leaders participated in an activity to develop their listening and communication skills. Watch as the students struggle to communicate and persevere through the challenge.

CRELI Summer Program

This summer I am running a program called Connecticut River Extended Learning Institute (CRELI).  It is funded by a Nellie Mae grant and the focus is student-centered learning.  This is my third year working as a teacher in this program, but this is the first year that I am a program manager.  The theme for CRELI this summer is “honoring and sustaining diversity.”  The students will work in small groups to create a product that fits this theme.  Since the program is student-centered, the educators do not know what the final products will be or how they will be created.  In many instances, this would be nerve-racking for educators, but through the process of this program, we will all learn how students at the center of the learning experience can be engaging, challenging and rewarding.  Follow this blog to see how the program develops over the next two weeks.