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Academic News: October 2016


After allowing some time for her students to analyze the first two U.S. Presidential Debates, broadcast on CNN, U.S. History teacher Ms. Bradley set in motion a debate of her own, led by students Grace and Kellen.
Grace “pants-suited up” as Secretary Hillary Clinton, while Kellen donned a new hairdo to invoke the spirit of Donald J. Trump, both of them sitting amidst an audience of dozens students and faculty moderated by senior Noel. Taking cues from actual debate questions and responses, Grace and Kellen, performed their best political banter coached by peers Emma and Tim. While one candidate may have bloviated, and another blamed, the students portrayed realistic impersonations of the Democratic and Republican candidates taking into consideration real life answers, in addition to their own interpretations.
After the moderator asked a series of questions, the forum was turned over to student body who also asked a series of questions ranging from Benghazi to bankruptcies and bad business, email deletion to sexual assault, and again, cued from transcripts and coaches, student representations of candidates supplied answers the American public has heard time and again.
In the end, it was quite evident that a country is divided, perceptions much different from one person to the next. With that said, despite the contrasts, classes resumed, and peers walked together to continue their learning, a bit more understanding and patient.

When it comes to collaboration, or making a typically mundane subject exciting, there are few teachers like Tony Hernandez who have the ability to harness a student’s interest and work ethic and make them not only engaged, but productive.
In the classroom, studying Business Math, Hernandez conducted an exercise. He divided the class into four groups and provided each group a 100-piece puzzle to complete.  They were instructed to finish their puzzle faster than the other teams to get an ‘A’ in the activity.  What they didn’t know, and they found out very quickly, was that they had pieces from all the puzzles in the room and the only way they were going to be able to finish their puzzle was to trade pieces with the other groups.  They were instructed to trade evenly, if need be, a piece for a piece. What occurred was nothing short of amazing.
Students didn’t just learn how to put a puzzle together, they experienced problem solving, critical thinking and systems thinking, all encapsulated within the following facets:
* often we need others to see the whole picture
*we can focus on what we have first, then see what we need
*with cooperation we all get ahead
*teamwork beats ego
*communication allows for solutions
*sometimes others try to keep you from getting ahead, but in the end you will still get ahead
*the greater good benefits all
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