February 16, 2012 by Brad Currie
Several years ago, a few 8th grade language arts and social studies teachers at Readington Middle School were out to lunch, discussing ways to engage their students in 21st century skills after hearing a presentation by Alan November. Fast forward to 2012 and you will see students researching, blogging, presenting, and creating solutions about issues in our world. Mrs. Maraventano and Mr. Daly are two of the teachers who have led efforts over the past few years to ensure that students understand their role as global citizens and use the power of language and technology to make a meaningful difference in the world.
The 20/20 project itself is widely known throughout the state of New Jersey as a best practice interdisciplinary unit that incorporates 21st century skills. Over the past few years the project has been presented at NJASCD conferences as a model of an engaging learning experience. During the project, students select a world problem,, research its impact, identify two differing perspectives, compose an expository essay, and create and present a 60 second Public Service Announcement. In other words, students select a problem that they feel passionate about and work to find solutions.
Student projects encompass a wide range of topics such as child abuse, whaling, smoking, genocide, homelessness, or steroid use . The collaboration involved in the project stresses the importance of teamwork and problem-solving. A new twist to the project has students blogging advice to each other on the team webpage. Assessment tools used by teachers to gauge student comprehension include journal writing, graphic organizers, class discussions, writing conferences, exit cards, expository essays and of course the final project itself. Feedback from classmates and deep discussions after each presentation help students further understand the issues at hand and the ways in which humans can help solve them.
The interdisciplinary approach allows students the freedom to work independently and see the connection that various subjects have with one another. Some of the social studies skills students use are indentifying a world problem, understanding perspective, evaluating propaganda plays and navigating the spheres of government. In writing class, students focus on selecting a topic, citing sources, creating outlines, drafting a thesis statement, using transition words and following the writing process. Overall the 20/20 project integrates various subject areas and 21st century learnings skills which turn make the learning experiences engaging and relevant.
To find out more information regarding the 20/20 project click on this link: http://www.readington.k12.nj.us/77141913151714/blank/browse.asp?a=383&BMDRN=2000&BCOB=0&c=56865&77141913151714Nav=|789|&NodeID=789
By: Brad Currie, Vice Principal @ Readington Middle School in Whitehouse Station, NJ.