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Imagine hearing Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech for the first time and pictures of the first Freedom Rides through Birmingham, Alabama. Or imagine listening to Franklin Delano Roosevelt address the nation through his Fireside Chats, and the resounding "Oyez, Oyez, Oyez" as the Supreme Court is called to order. Thanks to a grant from the Michigan Department of Education, MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online, in partnership with H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences OnLine, Michigan State University's College of Education, and Okemos Public Schools will soon make sound and images like these easily available to social science teachers across the state of Michigan through a project called Civics Online.
"Michigan's teachers are being asked by administrators, community members, businesses and society at large to introduce technology into all aspects of their teaching and their students' learning," Mark Lawrence Kornbluh, Director of MATRIX and Executive Director of H-Net, said. "We believe providing easy access to content- and planning-related materials that address specific issues involved in technology integration is key." Tailored to fit within the Michigan Curriculum Framework in Social Studies, Civics Online will make a whole library of video clips, congressional debates, important historical speeches, images and Civics related documents available via the Internet. K-12 teachers will find model unit and lesson plans, addressing content standards at all grade levels, as well as a multimedia library of supporting primary sources for their lesson plans. For parents and community members, Civics Online will provide an explanation of how the these materials and lesson plans strive to develop students' understanding of politics in a way that allows them to actively participate in our constitutional democracy. The site will also help students evaluate both international and domestic government policy. Parents and community members support teachers' activities at home. Students accessing Civics Online would find materials they can use in their own work. Through the power of sound and video, their lessons will come alive.
"The partners of this proposal are committed to serving all populations in the state and all materials will be available free of charge. This fits squarely with Michigan State University's long-term commitment to providing the educational community high speed access to electronic resources on its networks," Kornbluh said. He noted projects such as the South Central Network Consortium where nearly one hundred school districts were given Internet servers and connectivity plans were developed to improve local access to electronic media and communications.
This project also represents an important partnership among MATRIX/H-Net, MSU's College of Education, and local public school systems. Materials in this collection will be drawn from those owned by the Michigan State University Libraries and Archives. MATRIX and H-Net, who have a longstanding commitment to developing internet-based resources for K-12 classrooms within Michigan and around the globe will digitize materials and create the web-based interfaces. While MSU's College of Education will help provide teacher training and help evaluate the impact and use of the Civics Online materials. Okemos Public Schools is playing two major roles in this initiative. First, they will serve as the fiscal agent for this project. They will also provide a social studies teacher "on loan," to co-develop model lesson plans and unit plans, ensuring that these materials will truly meet the needs of practicing Michigan social studies teachers. In addition to this "teacher on loan," the project will also be overseen by a Teacher Advisory Committee made of of educators from three Michigan School districts.
To find out more about the projects currently underway at MATRIX/H-Net, please visit http://www.matrix.msu.edu.