Teacher Highlight!

If you follow us on Twitter, you may have noticed that we retweet a lot of pictures of student work in action. Many of these pictures are from the classroom of Denise Yassine at the Congressional School in Virginia. We are always happy to see her updates, and we reached out to ask her a little more about her process.

What initially drew you to TCI? Did any aspect of the program jump out at you – that was different from the way you taught before?

I learned about TCI while in graduate school at George Mason University. I remember sitting in a boat made of tape with my cohort, imagining what it was like to be a Pilgrim crossing the Atlantic.

I have always valued hands-on, experiential learning, so the interactive classroom activities woven into the lessons set this curriculum apart. I also appreciate the online offerings, such as the engaging presentations, built-in textbook, and interactive notebook.

To date, I have used three different TCI programs: Social Studies Alive! America’s Past, History Alive! The Ancient World, and Geography Alive! Regions and People.

How does TCI help enrich your experience as a teacher?

I find the TCI curriculum to be the underpinning of everything I do. It is a springboard from which I can launch a variety of assignments, and it provides me with the brain space to exercise my creative juices. Having the notebook worksheets available as PDFs allows me to tailor my lesson handouts with both TCI and my own material. I also augment the lessons with additional videos, texts, writing exercises, and projects.

Here are two examples of projects I’ve created to complement the TCI units:

  • -The Thematic Maps Projects: After learning about a variety of thematic maps in the Geography Alive! lesson “A Spatial Way of Thinking” and through my own online resources, students explore U.S. or world issues and create their own maps to find cause and effect between them. Students can choose how to share their data through a variety of methods, such as Mindcraft or Google slides. You can find my rubric here: Rubric
  • -My Migration Story Project: During the immigration unit, my students are tasked with the job of researching the pull and push factors that led their ancestors or family to come to the United States. Many students don’t know their immigration story and, together with their families, find this project to be very meaningful. Some students have even recorded their migration story using Storycorps.me. Here are the links used for this individual project, one for the project overview (Migration Project Information) and for the rubric (Rubric).

What do your students like best about the program?

My students love the active learning opportunities. The foundation of knowledge piques their interest in the content and helps them delve more deeply into their questions.They also love the fact that many activities let them be in the driver’s seat while I act as their facilitator.

Do you have a favorite lesson or activity? Why?

Oh my, that’s like asking who is my favorite child. I love them all!

However, I’d have to say that, in terms of being engaging lessons that have a depth of subject and that also capture my students’ imaginations, the following really leave a lasting impression:

  • -Underwater Archaeology
  • -Nile River tour
  • -Slavery unit
  • -Civil War sibling metaphor
  • -Emigrant Interviews
  • -African Women Entrepreneurs

I know I am successful as a teacher when my lessons linger, and the TCI curriculum helps me make that impact on a daily basis.

Thank you, Denise, for sharing your TCI experience with us! You can follow Denise and her class on Twitter (@dayassine) and don’t forget to check out TCI (@TeachTCI) as well!

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