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Channel-Talk

Re: [Channel-talkcivics] Making Civics Real

From: Jim Malanowski <jim.malanowski@morgan.k12.ga.us>
Date: Fri Aug 17 2007 - 16:23:41 EDT

Lynn,

I hear you on things you can do with a much smaller group. That
certainly cuts down on the "big" things you can do. I agree with Bill
on the importance of a focus on change/political decision-making. The
question I struggle with is how involved the average kid will be with
the inner workings of government. At the same time, I'm teaching AP US
Government as well and it pains me to teach them all about the US
Government knowing that they'll probably be much more likely to interact
with their local government either as businesspeople or taxpayers.

Something you could do with any size group is something I did last year.
Conservative legislators in Georgia set up a website called
"GeorgiaSpeaks.com" where people can offer their suggestions for laws.
I use a COW (computer on wheels with an LCD projector) in my classroom
so it was hard to involve everyone on the site. Instead, what I did was
asked if anyone wanted to make a suggestion. I had a girl suggest an
on-site nursery for teenage mothers who wanted to continue school but
didn't have child care. It gave us a great chance to go there
periodically to check people's responses to her suggestion. It also
gave me an opportunity to give them a real life example of liberal
versus conservative viewpoints. :-) The students would ask to go there
to see if there were any more responses. Even though it's a Georgia
site, you could take your kids there to experience it...

In the past, I've posted meeting dates/times of local government
agencies, council, zoning commissions, etc. and given extra credit to
students who attend meetings. I'm thinking about making it a
requirement this year...

I also have my kids write letters as part of their final in Citizenship.
We research the contact info on all of our reps, both state and federal,
and they send off letters on issues in addition to an objective part of
the final.

Gotta run... All my best to all of you. More later...

By the way, I haven't used FantasyCongress, but immediately forwarded it
to my colleagues when you mentioned it. I haven't checked it out, but
am excited about bumping around there. Thanks for the tip!

Jim
 
Jim Malanowski
Morgan County High School
1231 College Drive
Madison, GA 30650
(E) jim.malanowski@morgan.k12.ga.us
(S) 706-342-2336
(C) 706-474-9405
(H) 706-342-7672
 
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but
planning is indispensable.
  - Dwight D. Eisenhower
 
-----Original Message-----
From: channel-talkcivics-bounces@learner.org
[mailto:channel-talkcivics-bounces@learner.org] On Behalf Of Lisa & Bill
Lee
Sent: Friday, August 17, 2007 2:17 PM
To: Discussion list for MAKING CIVICS REAL
Subject: Re: [Channel-talkcivics] Making Civics Real

Hi Lynn

One of my colleagues has played Fantasy Congress and found it quite
fun. Unfortunately, we haven't taken the next step - only discussed
using it in some manner.

The senior elective is constructed in a fashion similar to the
Minnesota course that appears in one of the videos. Because it is the
first year we have decided to limit it to 1 section of 20 students.
The students (seniors only) needed signed registration approval forms
from 2 of 9 department members to be eligible. As a single group,
students will need to go through a step-by-step process of identifying
an issue or concern of a local nature (district, city, county, etc.);
they will create a system to gather information about the issue from
surveys, interviews, attendance at local government unit meetings;
using a similar process they will identify possible solutions along
with a pro/con rubric. Throughout the process they will provide
written overviews reflecting on their process (most likely some type of
journal). When they have identified a possible solution along with
benefits, costs, time, etc. they will present it at the appropriate
forums. The goal is to reach the point of a presentation and feedback.
  Because the time is limited we aren't sure how to handle the challenge

of a long drawn out process which is likely. That is why we required
approval forms in which students commit to working beyond the length of
the course as is possible and necessary. For this first time out of
the gate we were very selective with the students picking high
achieving, dedicated students who can work independently and in groups.

We have stressed that this is a civics course that focuses on the
process of change and political decision-making. It is not simply
community volunteerism, which may play a role, but is not the specific
focus.

Take care,
Bill

  On Aug 17, 2007, at 11:09 AM, Lynn Saxton wrote:

> Wow, great ideas, Jim! I will be working with a much smaller populace

> - about 20-odd students for half a year in each course (PIG and Econ).

> I would love any guidelines you have that I could possibly adapt to
> this smaller group. I very much like the "Citizenship Council" idea
> as I was planning to incorporate community service somehow into my
> class. This way, the impetus is not coming from me but from the
> students themselves - terrific.
>
> Jim, Bill, Elyse,
> Have any of you every tried the "Fantasy Congress" with your kids?
> You can access it online at fantasycongress.com. I think it would be
> a great draw, especially for boys who might have tried fantasy
> football, but I don't really know anything about how fantasy football
> works so I'm at a disadvantage here. Any ideas?
>
> Lynn
>
>>>> "Jim Malanowski" <jim.malanowski@morgan.k12.ga.us> 08/16/07 4:48 PM

>>>> >>>
> Lynn,
>
> We take a select group of students to the Georgia Youth Assembly each
> November. It's a statewide mock legislature sponsored by the YMCA.
It
> attracts anywhere from 450-650 students from around the state.
> Students
> submit bills and the 60 best bills are put in a "Bill Book" that is
the
> foundation for committee meetings and student debate in the Georgia
> Senate and House chambers. It's a real high for the kids that go.
>
> Last year, my teaching colleague invited me to participate in a
> "Congress" that was a MCHS version of GYA for all our sophomores. She
> had done it for the previous four years with her classes. We didn't
> elect a Governor or Supreme Court like they do at GYA, but all of our
> sophomores (around 280 in all) were divided into "Conservative" and
> "Liberal" parties. The kids dress up (they love it!) and believe it or
> not the vast majority spend two solid days debating bills. Some of
the
> kids who had no interest in Citizenship "found themselves" in the
> process when they discovered how passionately they felt about some
> issues. We used it as a "sales point" for their personal involvement
> and activism in our democracy.
>
> Admittedly, it takes a whole bunch of prep, but we both felt like it
> was
> worth it.
>
> In the past (I've been at it 36 years!), I have organized students in
> focused community service projects and given them extra credit for
> their
> participation. We've done everything from "bike hikes" to encourage
> people to conserve energy, to trash pick-ups in a six-block radius
> around school, to collecting for Disabled American Veterans.
>
> The events are planned by a "Citizenship Council" made up of
> representatives that are selected by each of my classes. We meet once

> a
> month and they bring concerns and agenda items (things like seating
> charts, suggestions for class activities, and eating food in the
> classroom). It turns into a great microcosm of our "real"
> representative government in the U.S. I'm the Executive Branch so I
> can
> veto their decisions...and they can override my veto. The principal
is
> the Judiciary and can overrule anything that flies in the face of
> school
> rules.
>
> In my Econ classes, I have kids do a "Stock Scavenger Hunt" to
> introduce
> them to the basics of stocks, then some play The Stock Market Game. I
> also run an Investment Club during scheduled club times. We use it as

> a
> recruiting time. As a matter of fact, I have to go right now to prep
> for a Club Fair that the kids will attend tomorrow during lunch.
>
> Well, I guess those are the highlights of what I do. Let me know if I
> can fill in any blanks.
>
> Jim
>
> Jim Malanowski
> Morgan County High School
> 1231 College Drive
> Madison, GA 30650
> (E) jim.malanowski@morgan.k12.ga.us
> (S) 706-342-2336
> (C) 706-474-9405
> (H) 706-342-7672
>
> In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless,
but
> planning is indispensable.
> - Dwight D. Eisenhower
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: channel-talkcivics-bounces@learner.org
> [mailto:channel-talkcivics-bounces@learner.org] On Behalf Of Lynn
> Saxton
> Sent: Thursday, August 16, 2007 1:36 PM
> To: channel-talkcivics@learner.org
> Subject: Re: [Channel-talkcivics] Making Civics Real
>
> Jim,
> I'd love any suggestions!
> Lynn
>
>>>> "Jim Malanowski" <jim.malanowski@morgan.k12.ga.us> 08/15/07 4:33 PM
>>>>
> Lynn,
>
>
>
> I'd be glad to talk with you, but I don't know how "regular" I'll be.
> I've not done any Annenberg work like you're doing, but will gladly
> share what I'm doing in Madison, Georgia to try to make "Citizenship"
> real for sophomores. I've taught it twice and will be teaching it
> again
> in the spring.
>
>
>
> Jim
>
>
>
> Jim Malanowski
>
>
>
> In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless,
but
> planning is indispensable.
> - Dwight D. Eisenhower
<http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/36892.html>
>
>
>
>
>
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Received on Mon Aug 20 10:00:54 2007

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