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TEACHING FOR CIVIC CHARACTER AND ENGAGEMENT Alternatives to Large, Traditional High Schools: Can They Enhance Students Preparation for Work, College & Democracy Sheldon Berman, Superintendent Hudson Public Schools, Massachusetts
TEACHING CIVICS AT HUDSON HIGH SCHOOL 9th grade core English-Social Studies course in Civics Service-learning integrated throughout the curriculum Modeling democratic decision-making Leadership development training Assessment based on post-high school voting and volunteerism
9TH GRADE CIVICS AT HUDSON HIGH SCHOOL: GOALS Essential question: What is an individuals responsibility for creating a just society? Developing conceptions of justice and visions of how our community and world could be Understanding human behavior - how people tend to behave when they live together Developing the capacity and the skills necessary to participate actively as a citizen in our democracy and in our world
9TH GRADE CIVICS WEAVES TOGETHER Study of self in relation to society Study of the structure of and rationale for our democratic government Study of events that gave rise to the Holocaust as a case study in civic ethics Study of the 1st Amendment as a case study in sustaining democratic freedom Student-designed service-learning projects that teach the skills of civic engagement
TEACHING CIVIC ENGAGEMENT THROUGH SERVICE-LEARNING Community Service Learning is a teaching methodology that seeks to engage students in active civic participation through thoughtfully organized service experiences.
SERVICE LEARNING LEARNINGLEARNING SERVICE Low in Service Low in Learning Low in Service High in Learning High in Service Low in Learning High in Service High in Learning
TYPES OF SERVICE Educational Environmental Legislative-Political Action Intergenerational Humanitarian
Educational: What topic do we study that my students could teach to others?
Environmental: What topic could my students learn about by working to help the environment?
Political Action: What topic relates to a current issue about which my students could take a stand?
Humanitarian: What topic could my students learn more about by providing assistance to others?
Intergenerational: What topic could involve students working to help an older or younger generation.
CSL AND EDUCATION REFORM Key strategy for long-term improvement Provides teachers with an important tool for enhancing student understanding Supports project-based, inquiry-oriented, student-active instruction Makes content and standards more meaningful and understandable Excellent vehicle for performance assessment Helps young people make a school to career transition Is essential to promoting civic understanding and engagement
Its a philosophy! Its more than a building...
DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE Representative democracy in schools is not effective in building the skills of deliberative dialogue and informed policy decision-making for all students. Students need to directly experience being a responsible member of a democratic community. However, this requires creating clusters or small schools within a school where democratic dialogue is possible.
Restructuring Hudson High School as a Laboratory for Democracy Teams of 100 students in grade 8 and 9 Interest-focused, multi-grade clusters of relatively equal size (125-150) for grades 10-12 Students stay in cluster for grades 10-12 One-hour weekly democratic town meetings within teams and clusters scheduled to discuss cluster/school-related issues or participate in other community-building activities
HUDSON HIGH SCHOOL Potential large group meeting spaces
THEMATIC CLUSTERS IN GRADES 10-12 Science, Health and the Environment Business, Engineering and Technology Communication, Media and the Arts Public Policy, Service, and Education
CLUSTER MEETING TIME Week 1:Small group governance meetings in classrooms discussing an issue Week 2:Whole cluster governance meeting discussing the issue talked about in the small groups the previous week Week 3:Small group work on service projects in classrooms Week 4:Large group meeting to hear a speaker
ISSUES FOR LAST YEAR FOOD SERVICE: Students advocated for changes in the food service program, including serving home cooked, high quality food. The district is in the process of hiring a Chef to improve the food service program. PARKING: The Community Council with input from clusters decided which students would be able to park in the front lot. REPRESENTATION ON THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE: The Community Council set up a process for selecting a student to serve on the School Committee. CLUSTER CREDIT: Students concerned a variety of strategies for providing recognition and accountability for cluster time, including whether students should receive credit and a grade for cluster time. DRESS CODE: Initiated in response to faculty concern, students are reexamining the dress code for the high school.
ADVANTAGES OF CLUSTERING/TEAMING A stronger sense of community Richer relationships between faculty and students Personalized school environment More meaningful instructional program More stimulating professional culture for staff Engagement of all students in consistent and meaningful service-learning experiences Engagement of all students in decision-making about school issues that promotes ethical development Improved academic performance
DIRECT INSTRUCTION IN STUDENT LEADERSHIP Student Leadership Collaborative Student leadership conferences Summer leadership institute Full day leadership training Workshops for faculty advisors For the future…a virtual leadership course and student network
PREPARATION: CLASS OF 2003
THE RESULTS Young people begin to: understand the meaning of the common good, appreciate that their actions have consequences for others and the community at large, and develop a sense of relatedness to and responsibility for the larger human community.
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