Illinois Students Learn About Citizenship


Most of Adrian’s students answered “no” after researching that question, but they were more forgiving of swimmer Michael Phelps and singer Mary J. Blige, whose transgressions were judged less serious than the good work they do.

It’s all part of Adrian’s lessons on citizenship, which she thinks students don’t know nearly enough about today.

Adrian, a 10-year teacher at Jefferson Middle School and head of the social studies department, is again being honored for her innovative teaching, this time as the national Outstanding Middle Level Social Studies Teacher of the Year. The award from the National Council for the Social Studies carries a $2,500 prize.

Last year she was named Illinois History Teacher of the Year by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. She’s also won awards from the History Channel for a lesson plan she developed on Abraham Lincoln and memory, and from the League of Women Voters for Jefferson’s participation in a national mock election in 2008.

“Kids need to see that history matters, because it keeps our society running,” she said.

In her history and social studies classes, Adrian incorporates the study of ordinary people students can relate to so “they can see themselves in history. It’s the everyday people who make society work.”

Amos Lee, who teaches with Adrian, said she is able to get students to “care about things that they might not even know that they care about.”

Adrian uses social media and other technology to get through to students, though she makes sure they read plenty as well.

One tool is “edmodo,” a secure social-learning network where students and teachers can discuss lessons or ideas. That’s where her students debated the celebrity good-citizenship question after doing Web research on Lohan (arrested for multiple drug violations), Phelps (a DUI and marijuana arrest), 50 Cent (gun charges) and Blige (accused of hitting her husband).

Technology is crucial for this age group, as most students are accustomed to texting, surfing the Web or using Facebook outside of class, Adrian said.

She also wants to close the digital divide. Some of her students have barely touched a computer, and they need to know how to navigate the Web, judge the content they find and “think for themselves.”

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Posted by on Oct 1st, 2011 and filed under American Street Guide. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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