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26 Missouri government teachers embark on professional development series

The James Madison Legacy Project kicked off Jan. 25 at The Missouri Bar

Twenty-six teachers from across Missouri converged on The Missouri Bar Center Jan. 25-26 as part of the James Madison Legacy Project.

The educators first attended The Missouri Bar “We the People” and the Constitution state competition where they watched three high school teams compete for the chance to represent Missouri at the national “We the People” competition to be held April 22-25, in Washington, D.C. Observing the mock congressional hearing competition taught them how to produce hearings as part of a culminating constitutional project with their own students.

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The second day, teachers participated in an in-service on teaching “We the People” curriculum. Dr. Steve Belko, executive director of the Missouri Humanities Council, and Dr. David Alvis, associate professor of political science at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, presented a scholarly lecture series on our nation’s philosophical and historical foundations, the constitutional ratification debates and judicial review. Following the morning lecture series, teachers learned how to engage their students in mock ratification debates using a technique called Philosophical Chairs. Teachers also learned how to apply the “We the People” curriculum to prepare their students for the required American Government end-of-course test.

The Missouri Bar is the state coordinator for the James Madison Legacy Project, which is a three-year, nationwide initiative of the Center for Civic Education that will:

  • increase the number of highly effective teachers of high-need students through the professional development of 2,025 teachers,
  • increase the achievement of at least 202,500 students in attaining state standards in civics and government,
  • serve the self-identified professional development needs of a minimum of more than 500 participating schools with significant concentrations of high-need students throughout the United States, and
  • evaluate the relative effectiveness of the Center’s research-validated traditional We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution professional development model enhanced with a new blended-learning variation which incorporates online resources.

The project will focus on identifying cost-effective means of providing widely available professional development programs useful in enhancing the knowledge and skills required of teachers to promote high-need and other students’ attainment of state standards in civics and government.

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The James Madison Legacy Project is made possible by a generous grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Supporting Effective Educator Development program. The Missouri Bar Citizenship Education Program has been awarded a sub-grant from the Center for Civic Education in the amount of $137,500 for programs in 2015-16 school year, which includes a three-day summer institute for teachers in June. Additional monies will be awarded for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years.

Photos by Russ Sackreiter 

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