Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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  Workshop 7: Controversial Public Policy Issues  
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Workshop 7

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Teacher Perspectives: Judging effectiveness

JoEllen Ambrose: I have no way of evaluating the kind of citizen that they are going to become. I can only express what I would hope they would become. I would like to see them engage as a citizen in a dynamic way. The ideal would be [running] for office, for example. Or, could a person connect with groups that have influence and make a difference in policy issues they believe in? That would be wonderful and exciting. If some of those words like “liberty” and “rights” and “government” are more than just dry textbook stuff but instead [are] live, dynamic values, and my [students can bring to] controversial issues a sense of our political idealism and the challenge that we, as citizens, have in keeping a democracy alive and well, [I will feel I have been successful].

I am hearing bits and pieces in some of their conversations that I think is different than the first part of the quarter. When they come [from] earlier government classes, they say, “Oh, yes. We’ve had the Bill of Rights. We know we have free speech.” [Then] we look at these issues in a deeper way. I ask students to work with them and to challenge them, to think. As a result, they are bringing up things that we had talked about in the past. They are making connections from the unit on constitutional rights and free speech to this particular topic. I sense that the quality of their small-group discussions is cumulative.


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