- S.G. Grant, co-author of the C3 Framework and manager of the NYS Social Studies Toolkit, provided the keynote message for educators to be ambitious in their teaching craft by asking students rigorous and relevant questions,
- Deng Ajak Jongkuch, Sudanese Lost Boy, shared his life experience as a refugee and gave an inspiring message to educators and employers that they do make a difference when giving someone a chance to improve their lives through school and work, and
- James C. Johnson, former Chief Prosecutor for the Sierra Leone International Tribunal, highlighted the reasons to remember Robert H. Jackson for his years of service as a crusader for justice as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Chief U.S. Prosecutor for the Nuremberg Trials.
Each of these leaders, Grant, Jongkuch, Johnson, and Jackson, expressed the importance of knowledge and awareness. One way educators can make a difference in the lives of students is to make learning real, meaningful, and authentic. The NYS K-12 Social Studies Framework offers us that opportunity and with it taking informed action is a means to achieve that goal. Taking informed action is based on the notion of students understanding a critical problem by gaining information, accessing potential options to address the issue, and applying action to inform oneself and others. The chart below display these efforts as it demonstrates multiple ways that taking informed action can take place in learning environments in the classroom, school, and community at large.
In taking informed action, the Robert H. Jackson Center offers socials studies teachers, as well as their colleagues, great opportunities to explore local, national, and international history with their students. It is a valuable resource for the Western New York region. In addition, Teacher Fellows developed human rights units of study, such as From Nuremberg to the Hague to continue the legacy of Robert H. Jackson for future generations.
Another local educational resource is “I am Syria.” Drew Beiter, Educational Director for I am Syria, recently posted an instructional video on teaching about the refugee crisis taking place in Syria. This timely; yet, sensitive issue, is presented in a manner that educates students on humanitarian efforts and provides resources for teachers and student alike to take informed action. Some lesson ideas that Drew shared with me and seeks to share with educators around the region include:
- A teacher-produced instructional video that does the heavy lifting content-wise, along with classroom and student ready resources;
- resource link for “I Am Syria teaching” materials,
- A Virtual Smart board experience made by the BBC that makes the crisis personal, entitled Syrian Journey: Choose your own escape route,
- A Take Action Toolkit that encourages students to be part of the solution,
- A Discussion Guide for older students designed to debate the foreign policy issues, and
- Common Core-friendly reading and writing assignments.
Last, a final resource comes from Kathy Swan, co-author of the C3 Framework, who details the importance of taking informed action as the piece teachers most often leave out of the learning process; yet, is the part that will make the greatest difference on student’s life long learning. The following brief video clip is worth your time as well as considering 30 Ways of Taking Informed Action.
I highly recommend checking each and everyone of these resources out; please consider sharing this blog post with a colleague too. The current international state of human rights in our world, teaching and learning about human rights from the past and in the present offers students the opportunity to take informed action that really matters.
NB: IAmSyria.org is a non-profit, non-partisan campaign that seeks to educate the world about the plight of the Syrian people. These materials were created to help inform and engage students. While IAmSyria.org supports an end to the Syrian conflict, it does not propose a specific solution or any call to action by any governmental or non-governmental entity.
Blog Post by Dana Faye Serure:
Dana is a member of the IES Team as a Staff Development Specialist. Her major work includes: Social Studies, literacy across the content areas, and education research. In addition, she is the Lead Site Coordinator for NYSAA and a team player in leading Regional Scoring for NYS 3-8 ELA and Math Assessments.