CTAUN’s 2007 Best Practices Award was presented by Phyllis Hickey, CTAUN Member-at-Large.

She opened this presentation by explaining that each year CTAUN presents a Best Practices Award to a person or persons who have attended the previous year’s conference and developed an instructional practice or program inspired by some aspect.

Best Practices Exhibit

The Best Practices award winners at the 2008 Conference were Debbie Kline and Maria Pyle, social studies teachers at the Community Middle School in the West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District, and Mark Wise, Social Studies Supervisor for grades 4-8. The 8th grade social studies curriculum covers the period from 500 to 1500. The teachers restructured the course to reflect the connections between events in the Middle Ages in all parts of the world and present issues around the globe. The overall aim of the curriculum is to connect the Middle Ages with the modern world through the concept of globalization.

The curriculum opens the school year with a unit on “How to Be Self-Directed Learners.” Among other units are an Islam unit that explores how Islam was a force for globalization in the Middle Ages, a unit on Renaissance and exploration and how that changed the world, and a unit on Africa with a focus on the geographic, cultural and historical reasons contributing to the present poverty crisis in many parts of Africa. During the final months of the eighth grade social studies course, students draw from their understanding of the historical context of globalization to view and analyze its impact on the world today. The year ends with a Model United Nations simulation on global poverty, in which students take on the roles of delegates from developing nations in Africa to introduce and pass resolutions that attempt to address the many facets of global poverty.

The eighth grade classes of 2006 and 2007 have collectively raised over $20,000 for both Heifer International and Ryan’s Well Foundation. Both of these organizations provide direct assistance to impoverished people around the world. This Model UN focus and the service project provide opportunities for students to transfer learning into action.