Preparing Our Students to be Informed Citizens: Making Sense of the News Today, Fall 2018

Course Number: EDU 5515 C36
Instructor: Alan Berolzheimer
Location: Various locations of First Wednesday talks sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council (Montpelier, Rutland, St. Johnsbury, VT) PLUS the Vermont Alliance for the Social Studies annual conference, Equinox Hotel, Manchester, VT.
Dates and Times: Workshop and evening presentation: Montpelier, November 7, 2018, 4 pm - 6:30 pm, 7 pm - 8:30 pm; Rutland, December 5, 2018, 4 pm - 6:30 pm, 7 pm - 8:30 pm; February 6, 2019, 4 pm - 6:30 pm, 7 pm - 8:30 pm. The Vermont Alliance for the Social Studies annual conference in Manchester on December 7, 2018, 8:30 am - 3:30 pm.
Credits: 1 Graduate Credit
Tuition: $330

Note: Payment of $330 is due and payable to the Vermont Alliance for the Social Studies (VASS). You can register directly with VASS by clicking on the Register Now link at the bottom of this email.

Course Description

This course, comprised of an after-school workshop, an evening program, and attendance at a social studies conference, is designed to help teachers improve their students’ media literacy and understanding of civic responsibility. The after-school workshop includes a book discussion and a classroom activity about civic online reasoning. Following the workshop teachers will attend the aligned First Wednesday program sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council on the theme “Democracy and the Informed Citizen,” that further illuminates the workshop topics. Teachers may choose from three different dates and locations. The third component is attendance at the Vermont Alliance for the Social Studies conference on December 7 at The Equinox in Manchester, Vermont, where the keynote program will also address the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” theme and feature national journalist and Vermont native Garrett Graff.

The workshop and First Wednesday program choices include:

November 7:

Montpelier, VT
Teacher Workshop Time: 4:00 - 6:30
Workshop Location: Kellogg-Hubbard Library, 135 Main Street
Book: Nadine Strossen, Hate: Why We Should Resist it with Free Speech, Not Censorship (2018), a cogent argument that serves as an excellent primer on the First Amendment.
First Wednesday Talk: News, “Fake News,” and Democracy in America, Former Senior Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Mark Potok
Unitarian Church, 130 Main Street, Montpelier, 7:00 p.m.

December 5:

Rutland, VT
Teacher Workshop Time: 4:00 - 6:30
Workshop Location: Rutland Free Library, 10 Court Street
Book: David Sanger, The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age (2018), the story of America's move to using cyber as a key part of its arsenal in the broader context of its impact on both defense strategy and civil liberties.
First Wednesday Talk: Objectivity in the Fake News Era, Jane Lindholm, host of Vermont Public Radio’s “Vermont Edition”
Rutland Free Library, 10 Court Street, Rutland, 7:00 p.m.

February 6:

St. Johnsbury, VT
Teacher Workshop Time: 4:00 - 6:30
Workshop Location: St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, 1171 Main St.
Book: Anjan Sundaram, Bad News: Last Journalists in a Dictatorship (2016), a firsthand account of press repression in contemporary Rwanda.
First Wednesday Talk: The News about the News, David Shribman (executive editor at the Pittsburg Post-Gazette and winner of the Pulitzer Prize) and Cynthia Skrzycki (journalist and professor of English at the University of Pittsburg)
St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, 1171 Main Street, St. Johnsbury, 7:00 p.m.

Course Objectives/Goals

By the end of this course, the participants will be able to:

  1. Discuss issues of press freedom and media literacy with confidence, and conduct such conversations with their students.
  2. Apply First Amendment principles to contemporary media issues and understand how to instruct their students to do the same.
  3. Help students improve their own media literacy skills when reading and evaluating online sources of information.
  4. Help students improve their understanding of informed civic responsibility.

Course Expectations

Attendance Expectations:

Participants are expected to attend one after-school workshop and the accompanying First Wednesday talk (November, December, or February), and the annual conference of the Vermont Alliance for the Social Studies (December).

Student Evaluation/Assessment:

A minimum of 15 hours of PD that includes

  • 2.5 workshop hours including book discussion and civic online reasoning activity
  • 1.5 hours attending the First Wednesday presentation aligned with the workshop
  • 7 hours of attendance at the VASS annual conference
  • 4 or more hours reading and writing a book review and a reflection that applies course learning to the teacher’s classroom

Percentage Contribution of Each Assignment:

Program attendance (60%)
Teacher developed book review and classroom application reflection (40%)

Required Texts

Students will be required to read the book that will be discussed at the after-school workshop and write a book review. Students will also be required to write a reflection after attending the VASS conference, summarizing what they learned in the course and stating their goals for applying that learning to their classroom.

For additional course information

Alan Berolzheimer

(802) 649-2857

For additional registration information

Christine Smith
(802) 468-1325

Register online now!