Archive for May, 2009

HUNDREDS of New York students made their voices heard on critical social issues of the day spanning child labor to racial profiling as part of the Voices and Choices program with Teaching Matters!

Speaker Quinn Presenting to Students AND Students Workshopping Social Justice Campaigns with Real NYC Social Activitists

With over 50 schools participating, students met with  policy makers, the business community, and civic activists to present and improve their campaigns for social justice!

Speaker Quinn urged hundreds of 8th graders and their teachers to continue their work in social justice just as she has been doing in the council for years. The students, who researched and prepared unique web-campaigns on civil rights movements presented them to activitists from the NYCLU, Lambda Legal, The Anti-Defamation League, The National Organization for Women, Ensaaf, Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn and other organizations focused on social change.

An activists responds to a student presentation at the Civil Rights Summit

An activist responds to a student presentation at the Civil Rights Summit

Students based their web-campaigns on a six-week study of historical Civil Rights Movements and then applied what they learned to advocate for a current day issue learning that history will and does repeat itself UNLESS YOU WORK FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE.  

Meanwhile at the New York Historical Society, seventh graders from all five boroughs offered persuasive testimony to citizen volunteers from the Goldman Sachs Community Teamworks program on constitutional issues such as: Gun Control, the Death Penalty, Subway Searches, Student Free Speech and Religion and Science. Citizen judges selected the most effective presentations from IS 216 in Queens, the Professional Performing Arts School, the Icahn Charter school and IS 234 in Brooklyn and the crowd then gathered to learn tips on what it takes to really persuade an audience. These groups all blew away the judges and the crowd.  At the end, a crowd of over two hundred students left the event with a new (or renewed) appreciation for the power of democracy, chanting, “We the people…”  (And you thought middle schoolers today were jaded… )

How Did This Happen?

For the last eight years, Voices and Choices, a program run by Teaching Matters, has supported thousands of teachers to rethink the teaching of civics for the digital age. In our newly empowered schools (where many say testing rules the day) we help teachers bring  social studies  alive.   And the kids get savvier each year as they learn to research and make their cases on the most important issues of the day. 

Why Civics Matters at Teaching Matters

Technology is rapidly innovating how we communicate, collaborate and participate in our society. We don’t teach technology, we teach the new (and many tried and true) critical thinking skills that technology is making more relevant and more significant than ever before. In fact, we think we helped elect Obama. After all, we were teaching eighth graders how to use the Internet for civics in 1998 …. so guess how old those kids were in 2008?


Seriously. Help us keep this program going!  Private donations like yours make this possible.  Your donations go directly to programs and events for NYC students like the one above.


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I had been waiting for someone to invent this. Simulations of some pretty challenging students to test the mettle and prepare pre-service educators. This video below says it all. It appears to be a pretty expensive model of teacher development, but the cost of figuring our classroom management on simulated students, not real ones, might be a few extra points on the ELA or Math tests. And we know that counts for quite a bit these days.

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