One of the main principles of the Why America? program is the notion that knowledge is power. After educators have attended one or more of the Why America? seminars, we challenge teachers to consider how the knowledge from this seminar has impacted their own teaching and pedagogy, whether it be through a lesson, unit, project, or other idea.
Maybe the Why America? seminar sparked an idea for an innovative student project. Maybe it brought a controversial discussion topic to mind that you want to have a Socratic seminar about, or have your students debate. Maybe you want to tweak one of your lesson plans or units to add in a diverse range of literature, videos, or discussions about the 2020 presidential election, the current political climate, or the Constitution. What was your biggest take-away from the seminar? Now, what are you going to do with this information to inspire and inform your students in tangible ways?
Here is our challenge to educators:
Following each seminar, teachers are invited to submit evidence of their idea in action in their own classroom. The possibilities are endless. Teachers can submit student work samples (essays, reflections, posters, etc.), a video of a discussion they led with their class, a video of their teaching, a video of student presentations, etc. We ask that educators submit tangible evidence that demonstrates student thinking and understanding, in addition to the lesson plan or unit plan.
Reading through a lesson plan is helpful to see the goals and vision of the assignment. However, the Center for Education Reform is most excited to see how the information discussed in the seminar translates when in the hands of innovative teachers and students. What did the students learn? What were their biggest take-aways? How are students thinking differently about history, politics, and civics?How is the teacher guiding their student’s learning while putting the thinking on them?
After teachers submit their evidence, a panel of judges will award prizes based on the creativity and execution of the idea in action, in addition to the idea’s alignment with the Why America? vision and goals. Changed to: Prizes may include an Apple computer monitor, a $1,500 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card, a $1,500 Donors Choose gift card, and more. Leading teachers will also be invited to participate in the next session as a panelist, to ask and engage with our expert panelists.