John Magoun

Teaching Work
and Curriculum Design

My lessons at St. Vincents are designed as general education for psychiatrically disabled teens who are short-term inpatients, with functionality ranging from elementary levels to the upper grades of high school. These lessons are self-contained rather than part of a continuing curriculum.

01 - Lesson: 'Slavery and Racism in the 1840s', St. Vincent's Hospital Adolescent Education Dept., 2010.

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Slavery and Racism in the 1840s
 

2-hour lesson: English and Science.

This lesson explores the depth of the racism that underlay American slavery in the 1840s. It combines a reading of Huckleberry Finn with an exploration of the racial 'science' of the time.

In Hour 1 we read Chapter 16, where Huck first realizes that he is unable to betray Jim, even though he thinks of the runaway slave as a kind of self-stolen property.

Hour 2 (worksheet shown here) is based on a chapter from Gould's The Mismeasure of Man. Recreating an experiment of the time, students  discover that scientists unconsciously distorted their data to prove that the white race is biologically "superior" to other races.

Here is a link to the lesson plan and sample worksheets.

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My lessons at St. Vincents are designed as general education for psychiatrically disabled teens who are short-term inpatients, with functionality ranging from elementary levels to the upper grades of high school. These lessons are self-contained rather than part of a continuing curriculum.

02 - Lesson: 'America's White Slaves: How Did They Get Their Freedom?', St. Vincents Hospital Adolescent Education, 2010.

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America's White Slaves: How Did They Get Their Freedom?
 

2-Hour Lesson: Social Studies and Math

This lesson is based on Bailyn's Voyagers to the West. It explores the statistics of British emigration in the 1770s, and the similarities and differences between slavery and indentured servitude in the American colonies at that time.

In Hour 1 (worksheet shown here) students collate the numbers of people leaving Britain, by region. They plot the data on a map, using color to identify the regions of greatest emigration: the North, and London.

In Hour 2 they use actual wanted posters, and visual renderings of typical escaped white servants, to "catch" the runaways.

Here is a link to the lesson plan, sample worksheets, and activity materials.

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My lessons at St. Vincents are designed as general education for psychiatrically disabled teens who are short-term inpatients, with functionality ranging from elementary levels to the upper grades of high school. These lessons are self-contained rather than part of a continuing curriculum.

03 - Lesson: 'Christianity: The Role of Christ and His Church', St. Vincents Hospital Adolescent Education, 2011.

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Christianity: The Role of Christ and His Church
 

2-Hour Lesson: Social Studies, Art and Music

This lesson is part of a Global Studies survey I began developing at St. Vincents. It familiarizes students with the basic tenets and functions of the Christian Church in the Medieval Era.

In Hour 1 we read the Apostles Creed, listen to a Gregorian Chant in Latin and English, and use transparencies (example shown here) to see how stained glass images taught doctrine to churchgoers.

In Hour 2 we read a text on the hierarchy and social functions of the Church, using study skills to look for evidence of whether it was a negative or positive influence on medieval Europe.

Here is a link to the lesson plan, sample worksheets, and activity materials.

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My lessons at St. Vincents are designed as general education for psychiatrically disabled teens who are short-term inpatients, with functionality ranging from elementary levels to the upper grades of high school. These lessons are self-contained rather than part of a continuing curriculum.

04 - Lesson: 'Class in America: Can It Be Ignored?', St. Vincents Hospital Adolescent Education, 2011.

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Class in America: Can It Be Ignored?
 

2-Hour Lesson: Social Studies and Math

Inspired by the 2005 New York Times series on class in America, this lesson shows students some of the connections between birth, education, employment, wealth, and class.

In Hour 1 we read an account of a woman who rose above her class through luck and education, but who never feels entirely comfortable in her new life.

In Hour 2 students play "Class Poker": each student is dealt a card in the suit of Education, from Ace to King. (See two-sided layout at left; teacher precuts and laminates them.) They then trade cards to collect 4-of-a-kind, learning how education can determine social class. We share the data, and discuss the resulting profile of American society.

Here is a link to the lesson plan, and sample worksheets and activity materials.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall. Fundamentals of Economics is a required course for seniors in New York.

05 - Lesson: 'The Law of Demand', Explorations Academy H.S., 2010.

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The Law of Demand
 

50-minute Lesson: Economics

This lesson is part of the Unit on the basic workings of the Market Economy.

Students followed a slide mini-lesson on how more people will want to buy Avatar DVDs at lower prices. The slides modeled how to plot the elementary demand curve, and the students plotted it on their worksheet.

Then, for independent practice, students received four more datasets of everyday items for which demand increases when price decreases (see layout at right - teacher cuts them into 4" x 5" sheets ahead of time). They plotted four more curves. At the end of class, they formulated for themselves the obvious economic Law: "The higher the price of the product, the less of it people are willing to buy."

Here is a link to the lesson plan, worksheets, and sample activity materials.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall. Fundamentals of Economics is a required course for seniors in New York.

 06 - Unit: 'Starting a Small Business', Explorations Academy H.S., 2010.

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Starting a Small Business
 

3-week Unit: Economics

This project-based unit gave students a chance to learn and model practical skills in the economics of starting a small business.

Students worked in small teams. They chose the business they wanted to study, developed a business plan and a budget, prepared marketing materials and maps, and profiled their ideal customers. At the end of the unit, they presented their business to the class and "asked for financing". The photo at left shows the bulletin board display of the unit, with the bound business plans in front of samples of supporting work.

Here is a link to the unit plan, and sample lesson materials.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall. Fundamentals of Economics is a required course for seniors in New York.

07 - Lesson: 'What is our preliminary business plan?', Explorations Academy H.S., 2010.

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What is our preliminary business plan?

50-minute Lesson: Economics

This lesson is part of the Starting a Small Business unit described above.

In Week 1 the class debated and chose which type of business we would study in class, and formed teams. This lesson was Day 3: after reviewing the rubric of requirements for the unit project, the teams filled out this information sheet (see at left) about the business, the members of the team, and their early ideas about how they would develop and grow their business.

Here is a link to the lesson plan, worksheets, and activity materials.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall. Fundamentals of Economics is a required course for seniors in New York.

08 - Lesson: 'How do we read news about a stock?', Explorations Academy H.S., 2010.

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How do we read news about a stock?
 

50-minute Lesson: Economics

Throughout the Economics course, we spent every Friday focusing on the Stock Market. Without the ability to enroll them in an online game, I provided the student investing teams with weekly price updates to their portfolios.

Unfortunately in the spring of 2010 the market was tanking and by the end of the term everyone had lost money no matter how they had invested!

In this lesson, I used mail-merge technology to generate customized news ticker reports for each investing team's portfolio. After reviewing the skills needed, each team summarized a news story and reported to the class what the impact would likely be on the price of their stocks.

Here is a link to the lesson plan, worksheets, and activity materials.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall. Participation in Government was my favorite course to teach at Expo. Given my kids' curiosity about the ways and means of Authority, it practically taught itself.

09 - Lesson: 'The Rights of the Accused', Explorations Academy H.S., 2009.

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The Rights of the Accused
 

50-minute Lesson: Government

This lesson, from the Civil Liberties unit, started with a textbook reading about constitutional rights of the accused. Then students were handed six leaflets (layout at right, teacher cuts them up before class) with the case histories that established certain key prisoners' rights. Each student was also given a stack of colored "Get Out Of Jail Free" cards, citing a specific Amendment. (sample shown)

By reading the cases and trading the cards, everyone was eventually able to glue the correct cards onto the correct cases. The final discussion reviewed the principle that prisoners whose rights have been violated must be set free.

Here is a link to the lesson plan, worksheets, and activity materials.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall. Participation in Government was my favorite course to teach at Expo. Given my kids' curiosity about the ways and means of Authority, it practically taught itself.

10 - Lesson: 'How did the 3/5 Compromise Affect U.S. History?', Explorations Academy H.S., 2009.

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How did the 3/5 Compromise Affect U.S. History?
 

50-minute Lesson: Government

After studying the Compromises that formed the Constitution, we explored some of their real-world consequences. In this exercise, students calculated the electoral votes of the various states in 1800. The Southern states were able to count 3/5 of their slaves to boost their vote count, thanks to the "3/5 Compromise".

On the back side of this sheet, we then conducted a historical experiment using the same grid: what if only white voters had been counted? Students discovered for themselves that Thomas Jefferson was elected president on the backs of his region's slaves. As I told them in the discussion, he was known in his own time as the "Negro President".

Here is a link to the lesson plan, worksheets, and activity materials.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall. Participation in Government was my favorite course to teach at Expo. Given my kids' curiosity about the ways and means of Authority, it practically taught itself.

11 - Lesson: 'Constitution Comix', Explorations Academy H.S., 2009.

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Constitution Comix
 

50-minute Lesson: Government

To help students realize that constitutional crises are dramatic and even exciting, I led the class in writing and assembling a few editions of "Constitution Comix".

For three famous crises, I provided blank cartoon layouts (see example at left). Then with the support of a handout, we went through the events that each box portrayed, with the students writing the actual dialog in their own words. Then they lettered the dialog into word balloons and glued them to the comic, which others on the team had colored with markers.

Here is a link to the lesson plan, worksheets, and activity materials.

>

Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall. Participation in Government was my favorite course to teach at Expo. Given my kids' curiosity about the ways and means of Authority, it practically taught itself.

12 - Unit: 'How A Law Is Made', Explorations Academy H.S., 2009.

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How a Law is Made
 

1 week Unit: Government

We learned the basic operation of the Legislative Branch by becoming U.S. Representatives for a week.

Each student chose a federal law he or she wanted passed. Each new day, the bill had to get through committee, the floor of the House, and conference with the Senate, as simulated in activities and group work. In each case the student learned that the process was intensely political and personal, rather than legal or procedural. Students kept and submitted a legislative log of what they learned each day.

The bulletin board at left displays the work of six students, each featured for one of the six days of the unit.

Here is a link to the lesson plan, worksheets, and activity materials.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall.
A substantial percentage of each sophomore class does not pass the Global Regents test. These students take Global Review the following fall to try to pick up what they need to pass the test on a second try. The test is required for graduation.

13 - Course: Global Review, Explorations Academy H.S., 2008.

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Global Review

Semester Course: Global History Review

One of the methods I used to motivate attendance and achievement was to issue Passports (layout at left, to be cut, folded, and stapled by the teacher). They had ID photos and were decorated by the students. The idea was that they would be date-stamped by me when the holders successfully completed the work for each of 16 study units.

Unfortunately, such devices tend to work best with students who are already prepared to engage with the material. My two Global Review classes passed the Regents at a rate of about 25%.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall.
A substantial percentage of each sophomore class does not pass the Global Regents test. These students take Global Review the following fall to try to pick up what they need to pass the test on a second try. The test is required for graduation.

14 - Lesson: 'World Trade Between Civilizations', Explorations Academy H.S., 2009.

       
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World Trade Between Civilizations
 

50-minute Lesson: Global History Review

This activity helped students learn some of the key inventions of the four early River Civilizations, and  how cultural diffusion spread them across the continent through trade.

 Each of four teams, representing Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, or China, got coupons representing four of its own inventions (see Mesopotamia coupons at left; teacher to cut them apart before class). To collect all sixteen coupons, trading was only allowed between physically adjacent teams - so the China and Egypt teams took the longest to complete their task.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall.
A substantial percentage of each sophomore class does not pass the Global Regents test. These students take Global Review the following fall to try to pick up what they need to pass the test on a second try. The test is required for graduation.

15 - Lesson: 'The Great Face-off', Explorations Academy H.S., 2009.

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The Great Face-off
 

50-minute Lesson: Global History Review

After reading a text on the Enlightenment period, teams of students were given a choice of palatial backdrops and ten "talking heads": five philosophes and five absolute monarchs. They pasted two of them in opposition, and wrote appropriate "debate" dialogue that summed up the beliefs or accomplishments of the two contenders.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall.
A substantial percentage of each sophomore class does not pass the Global Regents test. These students take Global Review the following fall to try to pick up what they need to pass the test on a second try. The test is required for graduation.

16 - Lesson: 'Nationalism', Explorations Academy H.S., 2009.

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Nationalism
 

50-minute Lesson: Global History Review

The story of the unification of Germany is hard to follow for most American teens - despite its vast consequences for our country in the subsequent century. For this class students made their own map to understand the fatal choice of whether to include Austria in the new German Empire.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall.
"War and Society" was a Social Studies elective I taught to 9th and 10th graders; the course had been my portfolio project at Teachers College.

17 - Unit: "Iraq War Memorial", Explorations Academy H.S., 2008.

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Iraq War Memorial
 

1 week Unit:
War and Society (Social Studies elective)

After studying the ongoing Iraq War, and examples of memorials from around the world that  commemorated past wars both lost and won, students designed the look and text of a proposed Iraq War Memorial for the Mall in Washington D.C.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall.
"War and Society" was a Social Studies elective I taught to 9th and 10th graders; the course had been my portfolio project at Teachers College.

18 - Lesson: "Levels of Force in Law Enforcement", Explorations Academy H.S., 2008.

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Levels of Force in Law Enforcement
 

50-minute lesson: War and Society (Social Studies elective)

Here we investigated the concept that all uses of armed force by the state, from handcuffs to tanks, are expressions of  society's fundamental police power.

A slide-based review traced the use and scope of police tactics and equipment as a street incident escalates to a citywide riot, and then charted the involvement of national guard and army units if the riot progresses to a regional uprising and even to a civil war. Student teams picked one of the five stages of this progression to illustrate with their own imagined case study. They used colorful photo stickers and maps (xeroxed by the teacher) to illustrate their texts.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall.
"Art|History & Language" was a Humanities elective I briefly taught to 11th and 12th graders, until the administration switched gears three weeks into the semester, and had me change it to a Government course.

19 - Lesson: "Why Is Mona Lisa Smiling?", Explorations Academy H.S., 2009.

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Why Is Mona Lisa Smiling?
 

50-minute lesson: Art|History & Language (Humanities elective)

After a slide-based lesson on the famous painting, students prepared their own reports on what they had learned, using this worksheet. Each team was to provide three relevant facts about the subject of the painting, attach a sticker with prepared text, color in the portrait, and provide a "spoken" text in which Mona explains why she is smiling.

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Explorations Academy High School is a new "small school" in the South Bronx with about 400 students. The student body is rated by NYC Dept. of Ed. as level 2 overall.
"Art|History & Language" was a Humanities elective I briefly taught to 11th and 12th graders, until the administration switched gears three weeks into the semester, and had me change it to a Government course.

20 - Lesson: "Who Was Orpheus?", Explorations Academy H.S., 2009.

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Who Was Orpheus?
 

50-minute lesson: Art|History & Language (Humanities elective)

Students read and answered questions about the myth of Orpheus from a worksheet that contained two parallel texts: one from a school-age appropriate retelling, and one translated from the original Latin of the poet Ovid. This differentiated the instruction to accommodate the extremely wide reading skill levels in the class.

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The Beacon School is a high-achieving progressive high school on Manhattan's West Side that attracts students from three boroughs. I student taught there for my entire academic year at Teachers College. In the fall I worked with Karen Michels teaching Global History to 10th graders and American Foreign Policy to 12th graders. In the spring I switched to working with Richard Miller, whose courses were 11th grade U.S. History and a History and Film elective for the seniors. Both teachers encouraged me to develop and teach original lessons and units for their students.

21 - Unit: The French Colonization of Algeria, The Beacon School H.S., 2007.

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The French Colonization of Algeria
 

10-day Unit: Global History

Since Karen's non-Regents course was inquiring into Global History using a French lens, she asked me to develop this unit to exemplify the imperial colonial era of the 19th century. I researched the subject from academic sources, and put together a series of lessons that started with the land and then focused on four classes of actors in colonial Algeria: the Native Algerians, the French Army, the Colons, and the metropolitan French government.

This skills-based worksheet was for a Time Line exercise. Students researched key events from classroom handouts and assigned them to one of four parallel lines.

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The Beacon School is a high-achieving progressive high school on Manhattan's West Side that attracts students from three boroughs. I student taught there for my entire academic year at Teachers College. In the fall I worked with Karen Michels teaching Global History to 10th graders and American Foreign Policy to 12th graders. In the spring I switched to working with Richard Miller, whose courses were 11th grade U.S. History and a History and Film elective for the seniors. Both teachers encouraged me to develop and teach original lessons and units for their students.

22 - Lesson: "A Unionized High School?", The Beacon School H.S., 2007.

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The French Colonization of Algeria
 

10-day Unit: Global History

Since Karen's non-Regents course was inquiring into Global History using a French lens, she asked me to develop this unit to exemplify the imperial colonial era of the 19th century. I researched the subject from academic sources, and put together a series of lessons that started with the land and then focused on four classes of actors in colonial Algeria: the Native Algerians, the French Army, the Colons, and the metropolitan French government.

This skills-based worksheet was for a Time Line exercise. Students researched key events from classroom handouts and assigned them to one of four parallel lines.

>

The Beacon School is a high-achieving progressive high school on Manhattan's West Side that attracts students from three boroughs. I student taught there for my entire academic year at Teachers College. In the fall I worked with Karen Michels teaching Global History to 10th graders and American Foreign Policy to 12th graders. In the spring I switched to working with Richard Miller, whose courses were 11th grade U.S. History and a History and Film elective for the seniors. Both teachers encouraged me to develop and teach original lessons and units for their students.

23 - Unit: The French Colonization of Algeria, The Beacon School H.S., 2007.

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The French Colonization of Algeria
 

10-day Unit: Global History

Since Karen's non-Regents course was inquiring into Global History using a French lens, she asked me to develop this unit to exemplify the imperial colonial era of the 19th century. I researched the subject from academic sources, and put together a series of lessons that started with the land and then focused on four classes of actors in colonial Algeria: the Native Algerians, the French Army, the Colons, and the metropolitan French government.

This skills-based worksheet was for a Time Line exercise. Students researched key events from classroom handouts and assigned them to one of four parallel lines.

>

The Beacon School is a high-achieving progressive high school on Manhattan's West Side that attracts students from three boroughs. I student taught there for my entire academic year at Teachers College. In the fall I worked with Karen Michels teaching Global History to 10th graders and American Foreign Policy to 12th graders. In the spring I switched to working with Richard Miller, whose courses were 11th grade U.S. History and a History and Film elective for the seniors. Both teachers encouraged me to develop and teach original lessons and units for their students.

24 - Unit: The French Colonization of Algeria, The Beacon School H.S., 2007.

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Home

 

The French Colonization of Algeria
 

10-day Unit: Global History

Since Karen's non-Regents course was inquiring into Global History using a French lens, she asked me to develop this unit to exemplify the imperial colonial era of the 19th century. I researched the subject from academic sources, and put together a series of lessons that started with the land and then focused on four classes of actors in colonial Algeria: the Native Algerians, the French Army, the Colons, and the metropolitan French government.

This skills-based worksheet was for a Time Line exercise. Students researched key events from classroom handouts and assigned them to one of four parallel lines.

>

33 - Walking Tour of the Upper West Side, for A&HW 4038 'American History', Teachers College, 2007. Instructor Michael Marino.

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A Historical Walking Tour of the (Lower) Upper West Side
 

44-page illustrated booklet

The 'American History' course at Teachers College had three research-project assignments over the semester, to be chosen from a varied list of ten options. The NYC neighborhood walking tour option fulfilled the state requirement that we learn to teach New York State history as well as U.S.

I photographed, wrote and designed this  booklet about New York's Upper West Side, where I lived and worked for many years.

Here is a link to a sample of the full booklet.

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34 - Gifted Students Program, for C&T 5024 'Gifted Curriculum', Teachers College, 2008. Professor James Borland.
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A Program to Meet the Needs of Gifted Students at Rockford UFSD
 

38-page term paper.

One option for the term paper for my Special Education course in Gifted Curriculum Design was to present it as a consultant's report to a school district, real or imagined.

I invented an exurban district in the Catskills called Rockford UFSD, which was experiencing a conflict over the 'gifted' issue between long-term rural-oriented residents and newly-arrived professionals from the city. The report analyzes the district's situation and recommends an appropriate if full-featured program of gifted education.

Here is a link to a sample of the full report.

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35 - Mission: Equality! Starring Barbie, for A&HW 4040 'Women of the World', Teachers College, 2008. Professor Margaret Crocco.

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Mission: Equality!
Starring Barbie

 

36-page graphic text.

'Women of the World' was an elective course on teaching women's history in a global context. The final project was a graphic-novel-style text on a relevant subject of our choice, using the 'Comic Life' software.

I had become interested in CEDAW, the UN women's rights treaty, in an earlier unit of the course. My comic book explores the impact of the treaty on women's rights in six diverse countries. Needing a narrator to pull the stories together, I chose Barbie because her presence both lightens the tone and challenges some feminist assumptions about who 'speaks' for the women of the world.

Here is a link to the comic book.

 

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36 - The Great Debate, Portfolio Submitted for the M.A. Degree, Teachers College, 2008.

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The Great Debate:
Portfolio Submitted for the M.A. Degree
 

244-page binder.

Teachers College requires M.A. candidates to submit a Portfolio Thesis of lesson plans, educational accomplishments, and reflective essays. To give mine a narrative flow and a unifying theme, I titled the 10 chapters of work as rounds in a "great debate" between intuition and intellect. Each chapter was introduced by a comic strip in which two historical characters (see some of them on the cover, at left) argued about which direction my educational practice and philosophy should take.

Here is a link to the introductory comics and essays for the chapters of my thesis.

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All images, writing, and commentary on this page are the property of John Magoun.  All work may not be reproduced without permission. This page last updated: May 2012