Even with today’s endless barrage of digital information, news about the world today can seem just that: a world away.
Emily Parr’s Contemporary World Issues (CWI) class, an elective in the Upper School History curriculum, brings home the complex issues affecting people across the world through an innovative, engaging mix of traditional research, class discussion, and blogging.
CWI students are blogging on two different blogs:
The class blog is a blog to which the whole class contributes. Each week, Ms. Parr assigns each student a current event. That student creates a post and facilitates the online discussion for the week. The class is a “blended” class, meaning the students and teacher “meet” online throughout the week and once a week in a traditional classroom. Follow—and comment on—the class blog, which was designed by Upper School Technology Coordinator Stacie Munoz.
Each student also has her own student-created blog on a topic of her choice. Students must use a variety of sources (journalism, CNN, public media blogs, and journals) to examine an issue from multiple perspectives. In addition to their weekly, in-depth research and writing, they are required to read and comment on each other’s blogs. The final project is a digital presentation.
“It is exciting to see how involved the CWI students are with what is going on in the news,” says Ms. Parr, who also teaches Modern Civilizations (the required 10th Grade World History course) and Flowering of Civilization (a 9th Grade World History elective). “They discover just how big an issue can be and realize how connected seemingly disparate issues are.”
Ms. Parr also enjoys watching the students become advocates and activists in the class, which is offered in fall and spring semesters: “Blogging creates ownership. With standard paper, it’s just between the teacher and the student, but with a blog, students have to reflect on the issue and others’ comments.”
What students from the fall semester CWI class said about blogging:
“We definitely learned a lot from each other and saw connections in our topics. Nothing was unrelated.” - Laney
“We were nervous about blogging at first, but as we researched our topics, we became more comfortable with blogging and with sharing our thoughts on each other’s blogs. Blogging made our class discussions a lot richer, too. Since the project extended over a period of weeks, we were able to see our issues as dynamic, with changing problems and solutions. As a college student [this coming fall], this critical approach to research will be crucial to academic success.” – Naya
“Since CWI, I am more critical of how news is delivered. I still keep up with my topic and look into it, even if I am not blogging about it anymore. This semester in Mod Civ class [Modern Civilizations], I am doing a research paper and definitely have research techniques that I would not have had without CWI.” – Anna
Check out the CWI blogs from first semester below, and stay tuned for the current class’s individual blogs:
Naya’s blog on street children
Chelsea’s blog on child labor
Laney’s blog on hate crimes
Anna’s blog on clean water
Mengyang’s blog on the gender pay gap
Maddi’s blog on domestic violence
Jamie’s blog on sex trafficking