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May 21, 2018
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Stillwater News

Brigitte Jackson and Amy Carpenter
HS Social Studies Teacher Brigitte Jackson (pictured left) and School Librarian Amy Carpenter (pictured right) developed a series of projects to help Participation in Government students understand and get involved in the political process.

High school project seeks to unmask the
political process

Research, analyze and articulate – the key ingredients to students’ political understanding

Oct. 25, 2012 – Even seasoned voters may become confused and intimidated over the issues facing the country this Election Day. Now, imagine what it is like for high school students who have been inundated with political messages on their social media sites, TV and radio.

That’s where a project that teamed two Stillwater High School teachers seeks to help students separate the wheat from the chaff – or the real issues from the imagined ones.

Brigitte Jackson, high school social studies teacher, has been closely working with School Librarian Amy Carpenter to make political issues seem less intimidating and provide a pathway for students to participate in the political process.

The ultimate goal of the project in Jackson’s Participation in Government class is to make politics less scary for students who are a year or so removed from being able to vote.

The students in the class recently interviewed Carrie Woerner and Tony Jordan, the two candidates vying to represent the 113th District in the New York State Assembly.

Carrie Woerner talks with studentsBefore the face-to-face interactions, students went to the library media center to research the candidates and their political stance on a variety of issues. After analyzing what they found, students crafted a number of questions to ask the candidates. Most students asked questions that personally interested them, such as raising the minimum wage, creating jobs in our area, and lowering gas prices.

“It’s important that students know how the Assembly and other government entities work, but I think it’s even more essential to bring in the community outside of school that directly impacts them, and make it meaningful for them,” said Jackson.

This particular project is the first step of a three-part assignment. In the next part of the project, students will research where President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney stand on certain political issues. They will then hold a Meet the Press-style class discussion on their findings. The last step is a presidential legacy project slated for January.

Read more about last year’s legacy project.

Tony Jordan talks with students“We always try to make our projects authentic and real for our students,” said Carpenter. “This particular project benefits students because it gets them personally invested and involved in politics.”

Jackson’s classes are not the only students to benefit from Carpenter’s help. In fact, many high school and middle school teachers tap Carpenter’s research expertise and library resources for a variety of cross-disciplinary projects, which directly tie into the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) adopted in July 2010.

The CCSS standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our students need for success in college and careers.

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