Students from three high schools in Maine recently attended a forum about the history and culture of the state's Native American tribes. John Bear Mitchell, of the Penobscot tribe and an official with the Wabanaki Center at the University of Maine, shared the complicated history of the state's tribes including contact with Europeans, land ownership and citizenship, as well as the use of native names and mascots for sports teams.
Fourth-grade students at West Elementary School in Athens, Ohio, blended their study of the history of the Underground Railroad with an activity that allowed them to create a fabric quilt, an integration of the arts into social studies headed by veteran art teacher Theresa House. "By bringing the arts into the science project, or into the social studies project, you're reaching more of the different parts of the kids' brains," said House, who blends art into other subjects of the curriculum in two elementary schools. Other art teachers are doing similar work in middle- and high-school classrooms in the district.
Two Baltimore city officials recently visited with students at a middle and high school to ask for their ideas on how to cut truancy rates in the city. Students told Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and City Council member Brandon Scott that programs such as clubs for poetry, dance and choir groups, and other activities could engage students in a district where nearly 22.4% are chronically absent. "The fact that they want more academic and extracurricular options is very encouraging to me," said Scott, who has introduced a bill to change the city's curfew for children under age 14 to 9 p.m. from midnight.
Teachers in classrooms across the country took varied approaches to the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, with variations depending on the age of students. Sandra Bastianelli, an elementary-school teacher in Boston, read a picture book to a second-grade student. In Connecticut, middle-school history teacher Greg Gubitosi showed video clips and led talks that focused on heroes, and students wrote a paragraph on the topic "What Is A Hero?" In Virginia, high-school seniors in Richard Ambler's government class discussed civic responsibility and the roles of government.
Groups of students from high schools in Shelby County, Ala., recently gathered for a leadership conference in which they interacted with peers from other schools and participated in team-building exercises such as untying knots. Local college students who lead the event said they hope the younger students will launch "We Give Back" campaigns at their own schools. Oak Mountain High School Advanced Placement economics teacher John Milton, who initiated the event with members of the Student Government Association, said he hopes the event will inspire students to become leaders in the community.