December 3- 7 This Week in Social Studies.

Greeting Parents of 206, 207, and 209!

From December 3rd to December 7th, Ms. Redmond is completely responsible for instruction and all that comes with it. I have planned this week with the full intention that it will be student-led instead of teacher directed. It is imperative that students get a chance to decide what they learn about, become informed about the issue, and take informed action. This process builds civically engaged students who believe that the people (even the kids) have the power to change the things they don’t like in their society. In fact, it communicates to them that it is their duty to do so. **I am as specific as I can be in this post because I really don’t know which topics students will choose until they vote on Monday.**

This week will open with a discussion about Chicago and the neighborhoods we all live in. Students will identify the good things about their city, identify entities a good city needs (like transportation, schools, green spaces, and parks, etc.), and they will identify problems that they are concerned about within the city. As a class, students will vote on the one issue they’d like to explore.

On Tuesday, students will be split into groups and given a different set of sources to read and explore in their groups. Sources can be anything from photos, articles, to video documentaries on the topic. Students will take note of the most important information within these sources. They, effectively, become ‘experts’ on these sources. On Wednesday, each group will share what they learned from their set of sources with the rest of the class. The rest of the class is encouraged to take notes on other people’s presentations, develop questions, and record something new that they learned from *listening* to their peer’s presentations.

On Thursday, we explore community organizations who are already addressing this issue and they will decide what kind of informed action they want to take.

If their solution can be carried out in the classroom, that is what they will do on Friday. However, if their solution cannot be carried out in the classroom – we will organize our efforts, choose a date, and settle on the logistics of what they decided to do.

Something that I will emphasize to the students this week is the importance of interdependence and active listening. If a group is off-task and doesn’t read the sources, then the larger group won’t get to learn that information. If a group is on-task and has put together good notes for the class and their peers don’t listen during their presentation, then they’ve missed an opportunity to learn. They and their peers are responsible for educating each other.

I urge you to inquire about the discussions your student is having in class! Allow them to be the ‘expert’ at home as well. Ask them about the topic, why they’re interested, the sources, the things they’ve learned, the things their peers are saying, and the things they are wondering about. Continue the conversations from the classroom to the dinner table to the walk to school. I want them to take ownership over their topic and the process.

If you have any questions, comments, encouragements, suggestions, or concerns – please feel welcomed to contact me at mrtoney@cps.edu with the subject Ms. Redmond’s takeover.

Ms. Redmond and Dr. James

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