Choices Teaching Fellows

Heidi Reinhart

A resource of this quality

would take a long time for teachers to put together by themselves. I can even use the readings to educate myself about a topic quickly when I need to!"

Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart
Omaha, NE

Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, Omaha, Nebraska is an all-girls Catholic High School. There are about 300 girls who come from all over Omaha and surrounding areas to attend.

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

World Cultures is a required course for all freshmen at Duchesne. World Cultures focuses on area studies with units on East Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and South Asia. This course stresses both the history and the culture of the areas studied. It is designed to eliminate student bias toward non-Western cultures and encourage student appreciation of the richness that can be found in the diversity of the world's cultures.

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

Almost every unit in World Cultures incorporates either a Choices reading for enrichment or a complete Choices unit. For example, during the unit on Africa, students read, Colonialism in the Congo: Conquest, Conflict, and Commerce readings to enhance their understanding of imperialism and its consequences. During our unit over the South Asia, students participate in the complete lesson plan that corresponds with Indian Independence and the Question of Pakistan. Also, as a Capital Forum participant school, we complete the entire U.S. Role in a Changing World unit. The Choices units correspond well with the goals of my World Cultures class and provide an excellent opportunity for student enrichment.

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

This was the first year that I explored and used the Scholars Online. It was very useful during the protests in the Middle East, when I did not necessarily have the time to stop what we were working on and teach an entire unit on what was happening in the Middle East, but wanted to provide my students with some background information to help them understand the situation. I definitely want to explore further use of both Scholars Online and the other Supplemental Materials.

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

The research that is put into the readings! A resource of this quality would take a long time for teachers to put together by themselves. I can even use the readings to educate myself about a topic quickly when I need to!

What do your students say about Choices units?

My students recognize that these units are more challenging than working out of a textbook, they also acknowledge that they are more interesting and engaging and appreciate the activities that go with them.

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

It is not always easy, but it is a matter of quality over quantity. Sometimes, students just do the readings as background information, other times we do not do all of the lessons involved in a unit.

How do you modify the Unit to fit your needs?

If we just use the readings, sometimes we do what I call graded discussions. Students must participate and answer higher level critical thinking questions to receive a good participation grade. Also, sometimes students are assigned an update paragraph. For example, they have to do a little research and update the India/Pakistan situation or peace talks in the Middle East.

How do Choices units help you teach 21st century skills?

Choices units go beyond memorization to critical thinking. The activities give students ownership in the issue, and they feel invested in a certain point of view and have to understand it in order to participate.