1.In a new
type of advanced government class at Seattle’s Garfield High, the students
rarely sit quietly taking notes while their teacher stands and lectures. What do
they do instead?
2.They are all
part of a teaching experiment that began six years ago in the Bellevue School
District.Who was involved and what
lectures sprinkled with discussions and occasional projects, what do they
students get to do?
was to solve two problems with the A.P. program, the largest set of
college-level courses offered in high schools across the nation.What were the 2 main issues they wanted fixed?
5.The team members started with A.P. U.S.
government and politics — one of the most popular A.P. offerings — dumping most
of the lectures that usually are the core of the course, and replacing them with
6.How are the
results so far? What do the findings show?
researchers are not examining results by race. Why?
8.Last year, for example, _____ percent of
students in two of the experiment’s high-poverty schools passed the A.P. U.S.
government test in the spring — much higher than the ____ percent for comparable
9.When and why
did the A.P program begin?How many
students have taken one or more A/P. exams last year?
A.P. exams are supposed to cover what students would learn in typical
introductory college courses.What
are teachers complaining about?
considered the “A.P. Boom?”
12.Who runs the A.P. programs?
Class Discussion Questions and Essay Prompts:
·What was your prior
knowledge on A.P. classes and curriculum?
·What part of this article
stood out to you?
They thought they could improve the classes by using an idea that dates
back to the 1890s, when education reformer John Dewey promoted “learning by
·How do you learn best?What
projects have stood out to you as you look at your years in the classroom?Do lectures or hands-on projects
·What specific lecture of project stands out to you?Why?
·Do you agree with John Dewey’s statement?Why or why not?
To date, the team has raised about $6 million to support its work, with
half from the George Lucas Educational Foundation and the rest from other
sources, including the National Science Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation. (The Gates Foundation is the main funder of The Seattle Times
Education Lab project.)
·Why isn’t more collaboration done with public school teachers and local
education professors at the college level?
·Why isn’t more money funneled through the private sector to public
educational programs like this?
Each project follows a common set of principles based on research into
how people learn best.One is to
immerse students in a challenge, then follow with lectures and reading to help
students figure out how to meet it — an approach the researchers call
They also design each course around a master question, which students
circle back to after each project, ideally gaining a new level of understanding
John Bransford, a well-regarded learning expert and a member of the
U.W.-Bellevue team, said the hope is to help students gain expertise much like
musicians improve with repeated guided practice.
·What do you think about “engagement first” and using a master question to
guide their discussions or project?
·Do you see this in your classes now?How would utilizing these simple tools, make learning different?
“The greater understanding,” he said, “is so much more enriching than
having a lecture and regurgitating information.”
·Do you agree or disagree with the above statement?Why or why not?
Some teachers emphasize the approach is not best for all students — that
some learn just fine through lectures.Newport teacher Virginia Evans, while a fan, also wonders if it helps or
hurts students when they go to college.“The reality is, colleges are like my non-project classes,” she said.
“They lecture at you, and you write papers.”
·What is your opinion on lectures and taking notes?Is it an important tool for college and workplace success?Why or why not?
How do you think students generally learn best?How do you learn best?Is it
through lectures, hands-on experiences and projects?Is it a combination?
What makes Dewey’s statement of “learning by doing” so profound?
Do you like the way the current A.P. program is trending towards more
project-based learning instead of “teaching to the test?”Will regular classes follow in their footsteps?Why or why not?
Newspaper-related CBA activity:U.S.
How the United States government interacts with the world affects people across
the globe.Analyze and evaluate the
causes and effects of US foreign policy on people in the United States and
across the world.
Using The Seattle Times e-edition, find an article from this week that deals
with world politics or foreign policy.
What are the main points of view from someone living in that particular country?How is that “view” similar and different than your own opinion, regarding
the specific issue the article is discussing?
·Why is it important to
study and learn about foreign policy?How does it help you understand the world we live in, using current
issues and events?
Civic Minds in The Seattle Times is posted to the Web on Friday. Please share
the NIE program with other teachers. To sign-up for the electronic edition of
the newspaper please call 206/652-6290 or toll-free 1-888/775-2655.