Enrichment Program: Powerful Voices for Kids

In the summer of 2009, we offered a 5-week summer enrichment program for gifted and talented students in Grades 6 and 7. This program consisted of a total of 140 hours of classroom time. These students were enrolled in a full-day enrichment program that included participation in the Wall Street Financial Literacy simulation game and test-prep strategies.

Instructors Angela Carter and Dave Moore developed lessons that drew heavily on popular culture texts, and designed student projects centered around the development of literacy, research, problem-solving, teamwork and communication skills.  Sample lesson plans are available.

Courts and Judges

Students examined some of the challenging cases decided by the Supreme Court. Students discussed these questions:

  • What is the difference between what’s right and what’s legal? Between what’s wrong and what’s illegal?
  • Can you think of something that was once legal that we now believe is wrong? Or something that was once illegal that we now believe is right?
  • How might the personal experiences of a Supreme Court justice influence how he or she decides a case?

Students took a field trip to the Federal District Court to interview a federal judge. After discussing Supreme Court Justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor and the Congressional debate about her confirmation, students conducted research to learn more about an important part of her background: the role of her Puerto Rican heritage.

For example, one assignment asked students to gather information (without using Wikipedia, Yahoo or Ask.com) to determine whether or not Puerto Rico's representation in the U.S. government was fair or unfair. Half of the class represented the "fair" side, and half the "unfair" side, based on random seating assignment, and conducted a debate.  Students videotaped and critiqued their performances.

Creating and Critiquing Music

In another activity, after exploring the website My Pop Studio, an online interactive website to introduce media literacy to children aged 9  - 14, each of the Gold Team members became artists and producers of their own pop song.

First, children came up with ideas and concepts for their song. They developed the three main parts of every pop song -- the chorus, the verses, and the bridge -- and wrote them collaboratively. Then they tried out musical and rhythmic ideas in the classroom and figured out how to get them from the idea stage to something that could be edited on a computer. They also made a video about the creative process itself.

Through active learning about a range of compelling topics, the Gold Team tackled a wide array of topics including nutrition, citizenship, celebrity culture, and financial literacy.