Choices Teaching Fellows

Jennifer M. La Place

"When I taught the Russian

Revolution, I was limited to two days and was able to use parts of the Choices Unit to get my students quickly through the material. It provides so much material, but it can be modified to fit your needs. "

Centennial High School
Columbus, OH

Centennial High School has a diverse student population with over thirty-five nationalities represented. We have been awarded a bronze medal from U.S. News and World Report. We've partnered with Battelle Innovation of Education, Ohio State University, and the Northwest Civic Organization. Centennial students participate in sports, academic team, History Day, Mock Trial, Multicultural Festival, and volunteer countless hours in the Columbus community.

What course do you currently teach where you use Choices material.

I will be teaching a course on Globalization. Much of the course, which is new during the 2011-2012 school year, is based on Choices material. I also use a number of units for my Humanities 9 (World Studies) course. The goal for theses course are simple—provide students with factual, interesting and engaging material to allow them to work to their potential.

How do you use Choices unit(s) in the course?

It depends on the topic. For example, I supplemented the Colonialism in Congo: Conquest, Conflict and Commerce unit with notes regarding the motives of imperialism. Students were then required to identify the motives while reading the materials provided within the unit. I also had them outline the changing motives as the readings progressed.

In the Russian Revolution unit, I used the graphics and the statistics, but didn't use a lot of the readings.

In the World War I—War to End All Wars unit, I used all of the material.

Again, I believe that the lessons should be tailored to fit our students learning styles and abilities. Sometimes it is necessary to re-write passages to make them assessable to lower level readers or ESL/ELL students.

How do you use the Scholars Online videos and Teaching with the News Lessons to supplement the unit(s) you use in the course?

I was teaching a lesson on political cartoons and several students were unable to understand the historical significance of the cartoons I was having them analyze. Since they didn't understand the historical significance, I could not hold them accountable for being unable to analyze the cartoons. Then I downloaded a political cartoon lesson from the Choices website that focused on more current events. Those students and I worked as a group to analyze those cartoons since they understood the significance. We were then able to work on the content and analysis of the cartoons from the original lesson. The lesson provided by Choices was succinct and to the point.

What do you like most about these unit(s)?

The lessons provide a historical framework that is easy to follow for both the teacher and the student. For a new teacher, follow the units and for an old hat, modify to suit the needs of your students. It provided me a new way to do things. I called my supervisor because I was bored with the way I was teaching Imperialism and wanted to do something different. He provided me with the Choices unit. I loved it and so did the students. There were things that I modified, added and took out, but the lesson was amazing.

What do your students say about Choices units?

My students enjoyed the lessons about Belgian imperialism in Congo. One of their favorite activities was creating and presenting Hyde Park perspective speeches in London on imperialism in Congo. The students really committed to it and it was a fabulous activity.

They found the Choices units fun and engaging. The units provide multiple intelligences and I believe this is why so many of them enjoyed it.

Teachers are always pressed for time. How do you fit Choices into the course?

When I taught the Russian Revolution, I was limited to two days and was able to use parts of the Choices Unit to get my students quickly through the material. It provides so much material, but it can be modified to fit your needs. For example, the background about peasant life was wonderfully written, but I was able to cut most of it out using some of the quotes and other information presented to rush through the "meat" of the Russian Revolution.

How do you modify the Unit to fit your needs?

I have my students work in reading pods. Each student works on individual assignments within the larger project. I find that my students enjoy doing this and I usually switch assignments after a week. I use parts of lessons, readings, or assignments to meet the state's objectives.

What advice would you give to a teacher who has never used Choices before?

Go for it! Well crafted, well researched, teacher tested lessons that provide students with the skills necessary to be a critical thinker. This materials is wonderful.