Issues-Centered Projects for Classrooms in the United States and Mexico Borderlands
Cashman, Timothy G.
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Subjectissues-centered projects; social studies education; language and culture; collaborative teaching; performance assessment; enduring understandings
This study explicates the collaborative efforts of university preservice educators from a social studies methods course and middle school students from a local public magnet school in a project entitled the Borderlands Issue Project. Pre-service teachers and middle school students co-planned, co-designed, and co-presented issues-centered projects that examined local issues on the United States and Mexico border. The goals of the issues-centered projects were to develop well-reasoned responses based on disciplined inquiry, on thoughtful, in-depth study, and to move beyond relativistic notions of truth. Teams of university and middle school students co-presented their projects during the local school site’s Parent Night. Examples of learning outcomes of the Borderlands Issues Project are the following: how university faculty and school site administrators and faculty worked together to overcome logistical concerns for Parent Night project presentations, how participants learned to co-plan, co-design, and co-teach an issue with others, how middle school students exceeded performance expectations of pre-service educators, and how participants learned from collaboratively researching and presenting on complex issues. Participants presented on topics such as the local history of the KKK, indigenous American struggles in the Borderlands region, non-Mexican immigration and its impact locally, and the environmental and community impact of pollution from a copper smelter.