Bradford Teachers Have Journal Article Published

Bradford Teachers Have Journal Article Published
Posted on 01/08/2019
Bradford teachers Marcelynn Chanin (2nd grade) and Ellen Cahill (Kindergarten) had a journal article entitled "Pushing the Boundaries of Elementary Social Studies: Teaching Young Children About Borders and Freedom" published in Teaching Social Studies, Vol 19, No. 1, Winter-Spring 2019. The two collaborated on this timely piece which addresses a contemporary issue in the news.
It started with Chanin who as approached in the fall of 2017 by a friend and colleague, Greer Burroughs, who teaches student teachers how to teach social studies at the College of New Jersey (and who is also a Montclair resident, married to Montclair High School social studies teacher George Burroughs. They have two sons; one who graduated from MHS last year, and one who currently attends MHS.) “My relationship with her goes back about 15 years to when I taught at the Montclair Community Pre-K and had her son in my class,” said Chanin. “I have always viewed young children as citizens of the world and felt that they deserve to be exposed to the truth about current social/environmental issues that will impact their lives. Greer has asked me a number of times over the years to work with her student teachers to develop lessons for young kids regarding social justice/environmental sustainability.”

social studies wordsIt was this particular offer that peaked her  interest, which involved a project with students of hers from TCNJ who had worked at a refugee camp in Greece in the summer of 2017. “I immediately suggested that Ellen Cahill also get involved. Ellen had also spent time that summer in a refugee camp in Greece working with children. Greer wanted to encourage her students to be courageous in developing lessons for young children about concepts surrounding the refugee crisis in our world.”

They were asked to meet with the student teachers in the fall of 2017 and help them design lesson plans for children that would help them to understand the refugee crisis. They came up with a plan to help 2nd graders/Kindergarteners think about boundaries and freedom simply by playing a game wherein 1/2 the group could have full range of the playground and the other 1/2 had to stay in a small section of the blacktop. Then they switched. “Afterwards we had a whole group discussion about that experience. Even though the kids understood that it was merely a game, they could definitely relate to the injustice of the situation and relate it to their understandings of people being forced for one reason or another to leave their homelands,” explained Chanin.

“This project seemed like a natural for us, as we both believe that it is possible and in fact, imperative, to teach young children about social justice issues and to teach social studies in a true, responsible way,” said Cahill. “We went down to the College of New Jersey to first talk with the teachers, then we implemented a lesson at our school, and then we participated in a focus group to talk about what we experienced. Since then, Marcie and I have joined our classes to do projects for refugees, and have taught our classes about the situation with refugees.”

“I believe that many of the problems in our world due to social injustice fester because we do not address them,” said Chanin. “We need to teach children the only way we can fix problems is by addressing them. We owe it to children to show them that it is good to talk about injustices and to examine how they came about.”
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