May 17, 2018 / 2018 National Finals, E-news
Over one thousand students attended this year’s We the People National Finals! Fifty-two high school teams from across the country brought their constitutional knowledge to the National Conference Center for this year’s National Finals, impressing us all with their understanding of history, government, and current events.
This year’s first-place winner was Oregon’s Grant High School, led by teacher Angela DiPasquale. Following in second and third places are California’s wildcard team Foothill High School with teacher Jeremy Detamore and Oregon’s wildcard team Lincoln High School with teacher Rion Roberts. In addition to the top-ten awards, unit and regional awards were also presented. See the full list of winner’s on our website.
Grant High School from Oregon was this year's first-place winner.
Students testified before panels of judges made up of lawyers, professors, judges, and other experts in simulated congressional hearings that tested constitutional knowledge, as well as students’ understanding of current events. The top-ten teams were announced at Sunday night’s We the People dance, and these teams went on to compete in hearing rooms on Capitol Hill for the final day.
Miss America 2018, Cara Mund, delivered this year’s keynote address, reminiscing on her own time as a We the People student in 2012 and stressing the importance of civic education in a democratic society.
Do you want to relive the best moments of 2018’s We the People National Finals? Head to the Center’s YouTube channel to watch hearings and interviews; the Flickr page for all the weekend’s pictures; or search #WTPfinals on social media to see all of the posts from the event.
Apr 13, 2018 / 2018 National Finals, E-news
We are pleased to announce that this year’s guest speaker for the 2018 We the People National Finals is Miss America 2018, Cara Mund! A We the People alumna herself, Cara’s team won the North Dakota We the People state finals in 2011–12. “My participation in the We the People program taught me the importance of being politically engaged at a young age,” Mund says. “As an admitted law student, advocate for female empowerment and increased political engagement, and someone who aspires to be the first female governor of North Dakota, I would have never realized my passion for civic education, government, and representing others had I not participated in these programs.”
Cara Mund is the first Miss America from North Dakota. Photo by Matt Boyd Photography.
Mund has a long track record of giving back to her community. At fourteen years old, she founded North Dakota’s Annual Make-A-Wish Fashion Show that has raised $78,500 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This work was acknowledged by President Barack Obama in 2011. She received her bachelor’s degree from Brown University, graduating with honors in Business, Entrepreneurship, and Organizations. She has since served as an intern in the Washington, D.C., office of U.S. Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota and will be attending law school.
This sense of civic duty is ongoing, and she credits her civic education for teaching her that her voice matters. “Over the past 6 years I have realized the impact both the Center for Civic Education and its We the People programs have had on my life. As a female from North Dakota, I learned through these programs that my voice matters. I continue to show my support because I would not be who I am today or possess my current career goals had I not been involved with the Center for Civic Education and its We the People programs. I want to help other students do the same.”
Cara’s (right) We the People team won the North Dakota state finals in 2011–12.
The thirty-first annual We the People National Finals competition will be held April 27–May 1 in Washington, D.C. Over 1,100 high school students from 52 classes from throughout the nation will demonstrate their understanding of government and the Constitution by participating in congressional hearings and exploring our nation’s capitol. Follow the Center on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up with the weekend’s events and updates!
Apr 10, 2018 / E-news
Terri Richmond is stepping down from the position of state coordinator of the California We the People programs. The Board and staff of the Center for Civic Education deeply appreciate Terri’s distinguished service, as well as that of her husband David, who preceded her in the position.
Cheryl Cook-Kallio is the new California state coordinator.
Countless thousands of California’s students have benefited from their leadership over the past few decades, both as state coordinators, as mentors, and as exemplary classroom teachers. Terri will remain the California Coordinator for the James Madison Legacy Project through the end of September and she will direct the JMLP institute in San Luis Obispo in July.
We are delighted to announce that Cheryl Cook-Kallio has begun to assume the mantle of state coordinator for the We the People programs, including both We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution and We the People: Project Citizen. Cheryl, a James Madison Fellow, is herself a longtime master teacher and she has also served as an elected official. She knows many of the people in the California We the People network already and she is looking forward to getting to know everyone in the state network as well as other We the People and Project Citizen Coordinators in other states. Contact Cheryl Cook-Kallio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mar 20, 2018 / E-news
The Center for the Constitution at Montpelier is hosting three-day seminars for K-12 educators this summer! This summer’s seminars are Constitutional Conventions, The Evolution of Rights and Liberties, and The Mere Distinction of Colour. Each seminar will engage its participants in interactive lectures and tours of the Montpelier mansion and grounds, where James Madison made his home.
Constitutional experts will teach at a graduate level, using primary source materials. The Center will provide documentation of the hours spent at the seminar to qualify for professional development and CEUs through James Madison University and a one-year membership to Montpelier.
Check out the dates and application here!
Mar 20, 2018 / E-news
Approximately one hundred state coordinators and mentor teachers traveled from across the country for the third annual James Madison Legacy Project meeting from February 23–25, 2018 in Los Angeles. The project, made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Supporting Effective Educator Development program, focuses on giving teachers of high-need students quality professional development in civics and government.
Mentors and coordinators met in California for the 2018 JMLP Meeting.
The weekend featured Dr. Gary Nash, distinguished research professor from the University of California, Los Angeles, who gave a riveting lecture on the American Revolution, the subject of his book The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America. Mentors and coordinators also engaged with Natalie Saaris from Actively Learn, who walked the audience through the innovative platform that now hosts the new We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution middle and high school enhanced ebooks.
Dr. Gary Nash presented on American history.
The weekend gave participants opportunities to meet with their peers in intensive group discussions and planning sessions with a focus on preparing for teacher professional development events they are hosting this summer and beyond. The coordinators and mentors discussed effective means to sustain online teacher professional learning communities in their states, and how to expand teacher professional development through the use of James Madison Legacy Project online resources, including videos of leading constitutional scholars.
Dr. Diana Owen, associate professor of political science at Georgetown University, presented research findings on the first two years of the James Madison Legacy Project. Mentors and coordinators were excited to hear that middle school and high school teachers demonstrated improvement in their civics content knowledge after participating in JMLP. The students were not left behind! Students whose teachers participated in JMLP gained significantly more civic knowledge than students whose teachers were not part of the program.
Mentors and state coordinators worked hard all weekend long, proving exactly why the project is yielding such impressive results! See pictures from the event on our Flickr!
2018 JMLP Meeting
Feb 09, 2018 / E-news
Florida’s We the People students came out in huge numbers for the title of state final’s champion! Eighteen middle schools and twelve high schools competed, showing off their constitutional knowledge and months of hard work. Held at Seminole State College, students displayed their understanding of the way that constitutional principles intertwine with both historical and contemporary issues by participating in simulating congressional hearings in front of a panel of judges.
The high school winner was Pine Crest High School the middle school winner was B. Graham Middle School. Students and teachers prepare to compete in mock congressional hearings, displaying their understanding of the Constitution and American government along with contemporary issues. Pine Crest was led by teacher Trish Everett and B. Graham Middle School was led by teachers Jackeline Hernandez and John Brady.
B. Graham Middle School was this year's middle school winner in Florida, along with their dedicated teachers Jackeline Hernandez and John Brady.
For more pictures of the Florida We the People competition, check out the Center’s Flickr page. Keep an eye on these competitive Florida teams as they attend the We the People National Finals and Invitational!
Jan 22, 2018 / E-news
Peace First, a nonprofit that inspires and supports young people to start social action projects in their community, recognizes young people as a vital resource in kickstarting change.
Sign up by January 31 for the Peace First Challenge to join a movement of young people from around the country who are committed to improving their communities. When you enter the Challenge, Peace First helps young people take action to address an issue that matters to them. They offer project-planning tools, one-on-one mentors, $250 grants, and expert feedback to get started. This type of challenge is perfect for students who have participated in Project Citizen, as they can take their work and research and further it with Peace First’s tools. Since these students have already identified a problem and workshopped a solution, they are better prepared to make real change.
And, when the Peace First Challenge ends, they’ll be giving out even larger accelerator grants to help take projects to the next level. Some applicants will also be able to attend trip to attend the national youth summit.
Adults who work with young social innovators can also benefit from the challenge, taking part in curriculum and facilitator guides for teachers who want to guide their students through the challenge.
For more information, check out Peace First’s website!
Jan 17, 2018 / E-news
Sarah K. Anderson “didn’t plan to be a teacher” but, after working for nonprofit and government agencies she realized that “all real change comes through education.” Happily, she ultimately loved being a teacher.
The teacher’s perspective rightly permeates Ms. Anderson’s Bringing School to Life: Place-Based Education across the Curriculum. Although she now serves as the Fieldwork and Place-Based Education Coordinator at the Cottonwood School in Portland, Oregon, she sees herself as a practitioner building upon the work of authors such as David Sobel, Greg Smith, and Delia Clark, who have articulated the value of place-based education over the past twenty years. In her position she works with other teachers at the school to implement this refreshing approach among the school’s diverse students. These teachers are trying to help the students learn to be exemplary citizens who research and act justly and with tolerance for others in pursuit of public policy change within their community. It is a student-centered and experiential approach. Students need to be able to evaluate, develop, and defend positions on public issues in order to enrich their own civic character and the lives of their fellow community members.
Place-based education fits squarely within the principles of progressive education, to which American educators have aspired for more than a century. Anderson lays out reasons why now is the right time for place-based education that not only connects students to their political community but also to the natural world. She cites the idea of a “nature-deficit disorder” and is concerned that students might be less informed than they need to be about the environment. She is attempting to revitalize American democracy. She decries the people’s disconnection from their neighbors as well as their local government and politics. She affirms that it is as important that students know how their local government works as it is for them to know about the U.S. Constitution, although understanding constitutional principles is also fundamental to making local change. She is attempting to revitalize American democracy, which at present is hamstrung by an inadequate quality and quantity of civic education.
Ms. Anderson rightly sees the communities and the schools as mutual resources. The students and other community members are often from more diverse backgrounds than the teachers, and the students deserve education that helps them encompass diversity while pursuing common societal goals. They need to understand their communities from many perspectives so they can “construct a sense of place that is in line with a child’s development.” Central to all of this is the idea that students can also serve as teachers.
She describes appropriate place-based activities at different levels within the K–8 curriculum, from classroom and playground and neighborhood to city, state, and world. Mapping of different sorts helps the children connect emotionally and intellectually to the local geography and to the environment, inspiring the students’ study of the relevant sciences. Ultimately history, civics, and the entire school curriculum can contribute to these rich connections.
An example of place-based education that the teachers at the Cottonwood School employ is an active-learning curriculum of the Center for Civic Education entitled Project Citizen. She oversees the implementation of Project Citizen in the school’s seventh and eighth grades. She describes Project Citizen as “a perfect place-based unit for middle school, as it integrates civic education, civic action, and service, along with multiple standard-based skills.” She calls it a “formula for citizen participation in creating public policy.” The Cottonwood School’s projects have been selected several times in recent years to serve as the Oregon representative at the Project Citizen National Showcase in California.
The voice of a master teacher resonates in this straightforward book. Ms. Anderson gives down-to-earth tips to teachers about implementing place-based education. She shows teachers how to overcome resistance to place-based education, assess student work, engage with the community, and meet state standards. She acknowledges the difficulties that face teachers, particularly those with very large numbers of students. But she exhorts those overburdened teachers to give it a try, even if they have to “start small and go slow.” Sarah Anderson knows that the effects on the students and our democracy as a whole are worth the effort.
Jan 17, 2018 / E-news
Are you an educator interested in graduate school with a love for the Constitution? Apply for the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation’s Graduate Fellowships! One individual per state per year can win $24,000 toward becoming teachers of the American Constitution at the secondary school level.
Graduate fellows can choose their own university and program of study and will also be attendees of an all expenses paid four week summer institute in Washington, D.C. The summer institute brings together an elite group of scholars who encourage a spirit of inquiry and discovery that James Madison fellows will eventually bestow on their own students. Upon completing a master’s degree in history, political science, or education, graduates will go on to use their skills as social studies teachers. Applications are due March 1, 2018. Find more information and the application at the James Madison Foundation website.
The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation’s mission is to encourage study of the United States Constitution, its roots, its formation, its principles, and its development. Created by Congress in 1986, the Foundation is an independent agency of the Executive Branch of the federal government.
Jan 16, 2018 / E-news
Does federalism still matter? The Center for the Study of Federalism says yes! CSF will be awarding three teachers with $2500 each for unit plans focusing on federalism in the United States.
Middle and high school teachers can participate by creating unit plans that address the question, “Does federalism still matter?” Defined as the distribution of power in an organization between a central authority and the constituent, federalism in the U.S. is a complicated concept about balancing power between national and state governments.
Unit plans should contain five to seven lesson plans that are adaptable for other teachers across the country and winning unit plans will be published on the CSF website. Within the theme of federalism, applicants may be creative and explore the subject area from a number of perspectives. For instance, a specific policy area, policy debates, or the policy-making process may be interesting angles from which students can grapple with issues relating to federalism.
For more information about the unit plan format and evaluation criteria, check out the Center for the Study of Federalism’s website.