Showing posts from March, 2018

Guest Blog: The “Ah-Ha” Moments

by Clinton Mathewson, Civic Mentor for Peoria County Clinton has taught U.S. Government and Civics, AP U.S. Government and Politics, Geography, World History, Economics, Consumer Economics, and, Psychology over his ten-year career. He is a member of the National Council for the Social Studies. Clinton earned his Master’s Degree from Eastern Illinois University in Educational Administration and his undergraduate degree from Illinois State University. Here are some of Clint’s thoughts on his role as civic mentor for Peoria County. I have taught Civics & Government for most of my teaching career and can truly say I am extremely passionate about my students recognizing the importance of being active lifelong citizens in our society. Being able to observe that “Ah-Ha” moment when a student figures out the complexities of federalism or an effective electoral campaign strategy, makes teaching all worthwhile. When I saw there was an opening for the Civics mentorship, I was the

Using Podcasts for Professional Development

by Mary Ellen Daneels, Lead Teacher Mentor In my role as Lead Teacher Mentor for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation , I have traversed the state several times over this year in what I call my LOL (Land of Lincoln) tour of Illinois. One of my constant companions on the road has been civics-related podcasts. I have grown in my content knowledge and understanding of current and controversial issues through such thinkers as noted author Malcolm Gladwell , Jeffrey Rosen , the President and CEO of the National Constitution Center , as well as  Chicago Tribune columnist Rick Pearson . While shrinking school budgets provide limited access to in-person conferences featuring noted experts, teachers can join the 67 million Americans listening to podcasts on at least a monthly basis. According to an article published by Forbes titled, “ Why Podcasts are So Popular (and Four Content Lessons to Learn from Them) ” by Jayson DeMers, podcasts enjoyed an eleven percent surge in 2017, giving l

Creating Civic Spaces in Troubling Times

by Mary Ellen Daneels, Lead Teacher Mentor This morning I awoke to a troubling Facebook post by a colleague of mine from the east coast. My friend is a well-respected, veteran educator who teaches high school social studies. He shared how there had been a fire drill the day before and in response, he froze. He directed his students to stay in their seats to make sure it was not a false alarm. One of his students responded, “yea, to make sure this ain’t like Florida.” It was not a false alarm and eventually, the fire drill was completed. But, this teacher’s response, and the response of his students was not an isolated event. Streams of educators throughout the nation responded to his post that they too experienced similar events in their school in the past week. One elementary teacher lamented that she told her 3rd graders that they were staying put until further confirmation during a fire safety exercise and one 8-year-old quickly agreed, “Yes because if an intruder pulled