KIDS Consortium's Blog

Collaboration: 21st Century Skills for 21st Century Students and Communities

Posted in Professional Development, Service-Learning, Summer Institutes by KIDS Consortium on December 13, 2011

My first year of teaching—Day 1: I had my lesson plan all printed neatly in my plan book. It called for the 7thgraders to work in groups for 20 minutes—you see, I learned in one of my courses that students excel in cooperative learning activities. So I put them into groups with a task (I don’t remember what it was and I am sure that none of the students remembers either) and then I, oh, I don’t know, I was probably checking the lunch menu or straightening the framed diploma that hung behind my desk—you know, I was doing what you do when kids are working in groups.  Five minutes later I looked out on the splendor of the environment I had created—what a disaster. Here I thought that by using

English: Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)

T. Hobbes...he warned us about ourselves:)

a collaborative learning strategy that I was developing 21st Century students, and it looked more like Hobbes’s 17th Century description of the state of nature. Clearly, I forgot an important step…to teach them HOW to work in groups. (more…)

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Youth Can Extend Themselves at Extended School Day Programs: Community Engagement With Service Learning

Posted in 21st Century Skills, Service-Learning, STEM, Uncategorized by KIDS Consortium on November 23, 2011

“It’s not your father’s Oldsmobile” and “Orange juice, it’s not just for breakfast anymore.” You recognize those taglines from a couple of old ad campaigns, right? Just good old Madison Avenue suggesting that we should think about some old friends in a new way. That is just a little bit like what this post is doing, only I’m not a Madison Avenue ad exec, so I don’t have a snappy tagline.  Plus, I know that this is not an entirely new way to think of “an old friend.” But if you come up with a snappy tagline, please, share it. I’ll give you all kinds of credit for it.

Just for breakfast?

More and more extend school day program (before school/after school/during school vacation programs) teachers are using service learning.


For the same reasons that other school teachers use it—the benefits are many.

The Afterschool Alliance, in partnership with MetLife Foundation, released an issue brief this month that discusses civic engagement and service learning in afterschool programs. The title of the brief is Providing Opportunities for Service Learning for Middle School Students. Even though the title isn’t all that catchy, it is a good one to download and read, especially if you have been looking for ideas and support for service learning outside of the school day. (more…)

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21st Century Skills and Service Learning: Data Collection and Analysis Creating Critical Thinkers and Effective Citizens

Posted in Service-Learning, Uncategorized by KIDS Consortium on November 18, 2011

Wanted: caring citizens who think critically, analyze information and make well-informed choices.

Last week I posted a list of seven ways service learning provides opportunities for students to demonstrate 21st Century Skills and gave examples of one of the skills being met through a real project.

Here again is the list:

1) Solve complex, multidisciplinary problems;

2) Think critically, analyze information and make well-informed choices;

3) Be creative and entrepreneurial;

4) Communicate effectively in person and in writing;

5) Collaborate and foster teamwork;

6) Participate in civic life and democratic decision-making; and

7) Cultivate an ongoing commitment to learning.

Let’s look at another project and see how students are developing these skills. (more…)

Recognition Ceremony Wrapping Up in the Hall of Flags

Posted in Project Citizen by KIDS Consortium on May 20, 2011

Throughout the Showcase, students shared their excitement about their own projects and others. “I’m having a blast,” said eighth-grader Courtney Brewer, who presented “Boothbay by Bike.” She was very interested in the presentation she saw about healthier school lunches. “As someone who eats school lunch every day,” she supports better choices for school lunch.

John Graham, Deputy Chief of Staff of U.S. Representative Michael Michaud’s office, and many state representatives and senators came to support the students.

The four second-round presentations were:Students present "Motion Sensors Save Cents"

  • “Motion Sensors Save Cents!”—Windham Middle School
  • “Eating Away From the Outside In”—Cape Elizabeth Middle School
  • “Be Two Kinds of Green”—Cape Elizabeth Middle School
  • “Words Shouldn’t Hurt, Right?”—Lyman Moore Middle School

Fran Rudoff, executive director of KIDS Consortium, opened the recognition ceremony congratulating the participants on their work and encouraging them to continue to be involved in public policy. She introduced Emily Cain, minority leader in the State House of Representatives.

Representative Cain praised the students for learning public policy now. “You are so lucky—I mean really. really lucky—to have participated in this program.” Through Project Citizen, these students are ahead of the curve, because they now know that “public policy is a living, breathing thing” that gets things done.

Rep. Emily Cain addresses students in the Hall of Flags“I look forward to hearing from many of you on important issues facing our state in the next year,” said Rep. Cain.

The 2010 Exemplary Portfolio winners, from Lyman Moore Middle School talked about what completing their project, “Greening Our Schools,” meant to them. They focused on the long-term results they see at their own school.

“We didn’t come to Augusta last year to win. We came to jump start our plan,” said Delaney Stokes as she described the work many students at Lyman Moore are doing this year to continue their journey toward environmental sustainability.

Marvin Rosenblum, founder of KIDS Consortium, told the assembled students: “You matter to the world.” He also stressed that this day is a great opportunity to share ideas and celebrate work. That work continues at schools and in communities, and in the legislature and on school boards. The assembled crowd of more than 150 people applauded loudly.

And the winners are…

  • “Be Two Kinds of Green”—Cape Elizabeth Middle School: Exemplary Portfolio
  • “Motion Sensors Save Cents!”—Windham Middle School: Exemplary Oral Presentation
  • “Words Shouldn’t Hurt, Right?”—Lyman Moore Middle School: Exemplary Oral Presentation

It’s been a fast-moving and exciting day for all of the participants. We thank the Speaker of the House Robert Nutting and President of the Senate Kevin Raye for allowing us to use the House and Senate Chambers for the oral hearings. We also thank Sean Roderick, Assistant Clerk of the House; Norman Arbour, Assistant Sergeant-at-Arms; and all the rest of the staff who helped with the sessions.

We’re really proud of all the students who participated today! Thanks to the teachers, judges, Representative Cain, and all of those who came out today to support the students. It wouldn’t have happened without you.

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First Round of Oral Hearings Complete

Posted in Project Citizen by KIDS Consortium on May 20, 2011
Students Presenting

Eighth graders from Cape Elizabeth Middle School present their project, "Don't Worry Bee Happy"

The first round of oral hearings is complete. The students are sharing their excitement and interest in the issues discussed. All of the projects were well-researched, and many action plans are in process and continuing as students work to get their proposed public policy implemented at the school, local, or state level.

“Why did you choose this topic?” Judges asked about students’ interest in and  connections to the problems they studied, what surprised students in their research, and what their plans are going forward.

The “Healthy or Not?” presentation by Lyman Moore Middle School students included a series of graphs showing very visually the increase in the percentage of overweight and obesity in the United States over the past 10 years. The team proposes better nutritional labeling and improved nutritional value in school lunches. They and other presenters stressed the importance of the problem they want to see addressed.

Students ask tour guide Dan Fournier questions during the State House tour.

All of the presentations demonstrated the hard work that went into researching the problems, alternative solutions, and selected public policy and action plan.

Dan Fournier is giving a very informative tour of the State House right now. His knowledge of the history of the State House is impressive, and the stories he shares bring that history to life.

Four teams are presenting in the final round, and we’ll wrap up this afternoon with the awards.

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Welcome to the 2011 Project Citizen Maine Showcase

Posted in Project Citizen by KIDS Consortium on May 20, 2011

Student teams are just starting to arrive at the State House in Augusta on this rainy Friday for the eighth annual Project Citizen Maine Showcase. The program will begin at 9:30 am.

KIDS Consortium staff have prepared the rooms where oral hearing will be held. The judges are meeting. Each of the 16 teams of students will present their public policy proposal to judges, who will ask questions and provide feedback. While the oral hearings are going on, another group of judges will review the binders each student team has prepared. Four finalists in the oral hearings will present in the second round, and an Exemplary Oral Hearing and Exemplary Portfolio will be selected.

The state legislature is still in session, and the senators and representatives have been invited to the Hall of Flags for the public displays of the project portfolios and the awards ceremony this afternoon.

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Students Learn Public Policy by Creating It in We the People: Project Citizen

Posted in Project Citizen by KIDS Consortium on May 16, 2011

Middle school students from across Maine will share their public policy projects at the 2011 We the People: Project Citizen Maine Showcase on Friday, May 20, at the State House in Augusta.

Hundreds of middle school students from the Boothbay area, the Calais area, Cape Elizabeth, Portland, and Windham have worked on public policy projects on a wide range of current topics, including childhood obesity, climate change, concussion injuries in school sports, and fishing bycatch.

We the People: Project Citizen is a federally funded civic education program for middle grade students. The program promotes competent and responsible participation in local and state government and enables young people to monitor and influence public policy.

Each participating class has worked for several weeks, first examining a local public policy issue by studying the impact of the problem on the community, working with local governmental and nongovernmental agencies in their research. Each team of students then evaluated alternative solutions to the problem, proposed an agreed-upon public policy solution, and, finally, created a political action plan to enlist local or state authorities in adopting their proposed policy. Following a local showcase, participating schools selected up to four projects to send to the State Showcase.

Friday morning, 16 teams of students will participate in oral hearings to share their ideas and solutions with one another and with adult policy-makers. From 12:30-1:30 pm, there will be a public viewing of student projects in the Hall of Flags at the State House in Augusta, with students present discuss their portfolios from 12:45-1:00 pm. At 1:00 pm, Representative Emily Cain, Maine House District 19, will honor the participants and one exemplary portfolio, which will be sent to the National Showcase.

Project Citizen is administered nationally by the Center for Civic Education in cooperation with the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan organization dedicated to serving the lawmakers and staffs of the nation’s states, commonwealths and territories. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education by an act of Congress. KIDS Consortium coordinates the program in Maine.

We’ll share details on this blog.

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