As the first trimester of the school year came to a close this past week, the 7th and 8th graders from my Independent Study Choice Class held a "fair" to show off their work. Each student studied a topic of their choice, through an inquiry process that included formulating questions, using a variety of sources, and designing an original project. In preparation for the fair, each student also completed a written abstract of their work as well as a sign to promote their project. Our Independent Study Fair was attended with 3 or 4 other classes as well as a number of teachers and parents. Our class was fortunate to have Mrs. Mildrum working with us throughout the Trimester. Her support for the inquiry process and projects helped make this such a successful learning experience. Mrs. Volatile-Wood was our photographer, documenting the students sharing their learning and projects. Check out the pictures below!
Scenes From An Independent Study Fair
Connecting to the Constitution
Let me begin this post by saying that I did attend Keene State College in Keene, NH and received an excellent education. This is my first connection to the Constitution - One of the goals our nation strives to achieve is "to promote the general welfare." State colleges and universities provide higher education to students who otherwise may not have such opportunities. There is no question that my education has everything to do with the person I am today and my ability to live a productive life. I believe public higher education actually transforms thousands of lives every year. That being said, college is often what you make of it, and some people attend for the wrong reasons and are simply not ready for the responsibility. College is not the right path for everyone.
Each year Keene, NH hosts a pumpkin festival. In fact, Keene holds the world record for the number of lit Jack O' Lanterns in one location. The festival has always been popular and draws as many as 50,000 people to the small college town each October. Usually there are only a few scattered issues for law enforcement to deal with, but for some reason events transpired at Pumpkin Festival 2014 that endanger the very survival of this event for future years.
Somewhat away from the main festival and close to the Keene State College Campus riots broke out. It is clear that some college students were involved along with other young people who came to Keene from out-of-town. Perhaps some saw this event as a time to lose control, break laws, destroy property, and hurt others. Maybe some believed the police would be powerless to stop such a rampage with everything else going on. These riots were not protests or an expression of disagreement with government policies. The chaos seems to have begun with parties that escalated into mobs roaming the streets causing a great deal of destruction, personal injury, and terror. Of course there are now all kinds of questions. Why did this happen? Who is to blame? Will they be brought to justice? How can Keene make sure this does not happen again? Will the Pumpkin festival continue in future years?
See the NECN video report on the 2014 Pumpkin Festival below.
The following day as some KSC Students assisted with the cleanup the police began the work of finding those responsible and bringing them to justice. There was a lot of evidence and much of it was actually collected from a surprising place - social media. Participants in the riots as well as witnesses took many pictures and attached them to Tweets and Facebook posts. These were collected and ultimately used to identify a large number of suspects.
It did not take long to make the first of many arrests. 19 year old Jacob Clark was charged with a felony count of reckless conduct. It is a requirement under the writ of habeas corpus in the Constitution that the charges be explained to anyone who is arrested for a crime. Clark paid $500 bail and was released pending his trial. There have been more than 40 other arrests to date.
For a final connection to the U.S. Constitution, check out what happened when a public access reporter tried to inform viewers about what was happening near the festival. Would festival organizers be able to shut down the press? Is that Constitutional?
See the action below
The events of the Keene Pumpkin Festival are unfortunate and I hope the festival is able to continue in future years. Current events and news items often have connections to the Constitution but not often as many as we see here.
GEMS 5-8 Mock Election Results
"Citizens can have an impact on their quality of life when they understand how governments work and choose to participate."
- FWSU Social Studies Power Standards
This week we put citizenship into practice by learning about some of the candidates and races of Election 2014. Today at the same time town residents were voting in the gym, our 5-8 students voted in a mock election held in the library. In addition to voting, my classes took on the task of counting all those ballots. Our mock election results can be seen below. How do our choices differ from the official results?
Representative to Congress
Peter Welch 78
Mark Donka 57
Governor of Vermont
Peter Shumlin 82
Scott Milne 76
Lt. Governor of Vermont
Phil Scott 122
Dean Corren 46
Beth Pierce 100
Don Schramm 62
Secretary of State
Jim Condos 75
Ben Eastwood 65
Auditor of Accounts
Doug Hoffer 182
Shane McCormack 86
Bill Sorrell 64
8th Grade Social Studies
Student and Teacher posts about what is happening in class and in the world