Teachers met in Anchorage, Alaska, to participate in the James Madison Legacy Project (JMLP) professional development workshop. They learned strategies for teaching We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution to their students by role-playing a simulated congressional hearing and hearing from speakers, such as Alaska Supreme Court Justice Joel Bolger. “This workshop offers content and engagement. The interactive activities were very strong reinforcement of the material taught to the class,” said one JMLP teacher.
The teachers presented to their school board explaining the We the People program and its benefits to students. Teachers Minty Ruthford, Mary Ulroan, and Valeria Owrey, had their students become part of the presentation through a candy bar simulated congressional hearing. Each group of students picked a candy that they felt best represented the United States and presented to their class and three judges.
Students argued for a variety of candies. “Peanut M&M’s are red, green, brown, yellow and blue and this represents the diversity of America because there are so people from so many different backgrounds,” said one group. Another group argued for Hot Tamales because, “Hot Tamales are made in Pennsylvania just like America’s Declaration of Independence.”
As classrooms move from candy bar hearings to their real mock congressional hearings, Alaska’s JMLP teachers are confident that the We the People curriculum “gets kids to become more involved in their community and to practice their citizenship both inside the school and out.”