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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Current Events Prompt Critical Thinking!

I remember “doing” current events back in my day (you know – when the current event was “new vaccine for polio” or “teacher burned when stoking the coal fire”).   We tore them out of the paper, identified the who, what, where and why and if called upon read them aloud in class.  I don’t ever think that I connected the current event to my studies or to my life.  Today students are bombarded with current events in every way imaginable.  Teachers that make the connections in their classroom, reap the rewards. 

Award-winning Lesson

One such teacher is MaryAnn Molishus from Goodnoe Elementary School in Newtown, PA.  Just like many other teachers, Mrs. Molishus set up a bulletin board to welcome her students (with the help of her daughter).  The graffiti style lettering and a local news report on vandalism in her town inspired a critical thinking problem solving project for her students.  What better way to help her 5th graders understand the essential questions “How do rules protect individual rights as well as meet the needs of society?” And “What are the responsibilities of a good citizen?” than to help her students see this popular art form from different perspectives.

Teaching Perspectives

Maryanne developed a scenario for the SCAN tool with four perspectives (art historian, property owner, graffiti artist, and police officer) and enriched the lesson with some online resources.  Using the online discussion tool, students explored the issues and suggested solutions to the problem.
Maryann was thrilled that “they not only learned about this community issue but learned to discuss a topic, consider other points of view, stay on point while chatting online and understand that there are many facets to one issue.”  To further enrich the lesson, students went on to examine new proposed legislation set to ban the sale of spray paint to minors in their home state.  They were encouraged to determine a position on the new law and write to their government officials to persuade them to vote for or against the law. Now, that’s making a lesson rigorous and relevant!

Reaping the Rewards!

Mrs. Molishus was able to integrate community issues, reading, writing, research, government, digital and community citizenship starting with a current event and the SCAN tool from TregoED.  She not only addressed the standards that students must meet in social studies, but also encouraged them to appreciate other perspectives and participate in the democratic process.  Kudos to you Mrs. Molishus for creating a lesson that gets them thinking and congratulations to your students on a job well done!

Note:  You can find Mrs. Molishus' lesson "Graffiti:  Freedom of Expression or Vandalism?" in the TregoED SCAN library

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