Editor's note: The following Teaching and Learning Highlight was submitted by Foxborough Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Amy Berdos.
History came alive at Monday's school committee meeting as Foxborough High School students reported on the active learning of our country's law making process in their US History I class during this week's Teaching and Learning Highlight.
Present to describe the learning by doing activity of sophomore students’ participation in a congressional simulation were: History department head Mr. Thomas Murray, history teachers Mr. Matthew Carroll, Mrs. Kristen D'Errico and sophomore student Wes Young.
Mr. Murray, FHS history department head, explained that history classes have moved away from the traditional lecture-style class to a much more hands-on approach where students have the opportunity for "incredibly interactive activities."
The two FHS history teachers, Mr. Carroll and Mrs. D’Errico, teamed their classes together for the congressional simulation, which was designed to help students better understand the complexity and challenges of our lawmaking process. Mrs. D’Errico explained how the role-playing experience helps students gain understanding of all aspects of congressional policymaking by first making them “pass a fake bar exam” to demonstrate their understanding and then apply their knowledge in different scenarios as lawyers prior to the congressional simulation.
Sophomore student Wes Young, role-playing the part of the House Minority Leader, learned that it can be “chaotic and difficult to get everyone's attention.”
When asked what the most challenging part was, "order and control" were at the top of the list. Ensuring that all bills were in order and providing the opportunity for all voices to be heard was challenging at times. The congressional simulation aided in giving the students knowledge and understanding of how the legislative branch is organized, and how a bill becomes a law.
The students proposed bills that were relevant to them and they hoped would “become law” in their classroom for the remainder of the school year. Assistant principal Mr. Robert Delaney served as President and "he did veto some of our laws," Young said.
The FHS went on to say students were successful in passing some bills, mentioning one new law that was passed to allow “Student News” to be shared at the beginning of each class period for the remainder of the school year.
Students were highly motivated to participate in the congressional simulation as the bills proposed were of interest to them, explained Mr. Carroll.
“Bringing complex ideas down to the 10th grade level can be challenging, but you’re most proud when you can take a complex idea and make it relevant to students," he said.