Recently, our colleague Mandy Arias, who teaches at Lee Middle in Orange County, headed north to the Constitutional Scholars Institute in Philadelphia. She was kind enough to provide us with a post that summarizes her experience. I encourage you to think about this opportunity for the future! 

The Constitutional Scholars Institute was a wonderful experience made up of highly qualified staff and guest speakers who were very passionate and knowledgeable about Civics and the Constitution. This included lawyers, judges, authors, and even a former governor. All participates shed light on hot topics in our country today thorough multiple perspectives and techniques for teaching them in class.

The Rendell Center truly wanted to aid teachers with their knowledge of Civics along with pedagogical practices. This was done in an innovative manner since our discussions and interactions were with teachers from all across the United States. Something I had never experienced before.  We were able to share multiple resources and lesson plan ideas with one another on a daily basis and share resources with one another via blackboard.

Having the opportunity to closely focus on the Constitution allowed all teachers to learn something new, even if they had felt as though they were experts before.  I believe most of us truly enjoyed the experience of arguing the mock appellate court case in a federal court room.  Using the lickert scale to place people in certain roles was a useful technique and one I will certainly use in the classroom.  We also had the opportunity to be walked through the Constitution Center website and all its sources.  This was very helpful especially if you enjoy using technology in the classroom. We the Civics Kids is just one of the many resources that were given to us that I know will be helpful in a Middle School classrooms. In the end, I left with more resources, experiences, and information then I could have imagined

The Institute also included some field studies. We visited historic sites and experienced events first hand. These ranged in content and format; from the liberty bell, to reenactments taking place in Independence Hall, to partaking in the audience of the 16th annual Supreme Court Review, to viewing one of the original copies of the Bill of Rights in person. Having these pictures and stories to aid to our classroom lectures are immeasurable.

Partaking in this institute was not only a helpful review but an experience I left feeling more enthusiastic and passionate about Civics. I became more knowledgable by having so much time to dedicate to the topic and I was renewed with inspiration and drive to do a wonderful job teaching Civics in your next school year. I also left with multiple contacts that will be helpful throughout my career.

– Mandy Arias

Thank you, Mandy, for sharing this with us!