Rachel’s Workshops for Ungdomsskole Students

Each workshop can be offered at an introductory or more advanced level in order to cater to the readiness levels and prior knowledge of participants. Workshops can also be offered in a lecture style or in a more inquiry-based, active-learning approach.

Additionally, all of the workshops outlined below can easily be adapted for educators or community members seeking a presentation grounded in important issues in American society, history and literature.

1. A Dream Deferred?: How American Authors and Artists Have Mirrored and Critiqued the American Dream
President Barack Obama’s called The Dream “…the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college…The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive.” This workshop will engage students in an evaluation of multimedia to explore their own dreams and discuss to what extent The Dream is unique to the United States. What aspects of the American dream are relevant to Norwegian teenagers? Students will engage in discussion, reflection and creation in order to answer these questions.

2. The Race for the White House: What Brought Americans to the Polls in 2016?
This modern politics workshop will investigate the attitudes, beliefs, frustrations and hopes that the American people brought with them to the polls in 2016. We will analyze the results of the election and consider the myriad issues the candidates addressed during their campaigns. The workshop will aim to consider how current events such as immigration, the rise of ISIS, domestic terrorism, the #blacklivesmatter movement, the economy and many more issues on the minds and in the hearts of Americans influenced the outcome of the election.

3. Teenage Life in America: A Day in the Life of Generation Z
Sports, fashion, slang, social media, pop-culture, new freedoms and responsibilities. These characteristics define what it’s like to be a teenager in the USA today. But what, exactly, does a day-in-the life of an American teenager look like? This workshop will explore the diversity of teen life across the United States, and will use the presenter’s students in a suburban community as a case study of what makes teen life in America unique, generating comparisons to the experiences of Norwegian teenagers as we go. This workshop may use Skype to communicate with an American class when possible.

 4. An Experiment in Democracy: What and how should a government provide for its citizens?
Students will begin in a “state of nature,” creating their own governments in a simulation activity to explore why a government is necessary. Then, students will learn how America’s Founding Fathers borrowed the philosophical ideas of European thinkers to create a limited government where citizens are bound by a social contract. Students will learn how a democratic republic operates and how the three branches of government all carry out unique roles and responsibilities in the American government. Finally, they will question the ideas and beliefs expressed in our Constitution. For example, what would the Founders’ say about Universal Healthcare?

 5. Snapshots of a Changing American Identity: How do photographs convey meaning? What can they tell us about perspective, context, justice and identity in the American story?
In this workshop students will learn how to “read” photographs deeply and put these new skills to work in thinking critically about myriad controversial images from times of rapid growth in American history including expansion, war and political and social upheaval. Students will learn how the exposure of these images has changed social and political responses of the times. Perhaps most importantly, students will consider how powerful images can work to define or upend groups of citizens based on race, gender, socioeconomic status, culture, ethnicity and ability.

6. Race, Gender and Class: Is the Civil Rights Movement Really Over?
Students will evaluate identity through a lens of intersectionality; that is, how a history of slavery and classism, a century of Jim Crow, postponed women’s rights and lasting effects of racism and discrimination have led to nuanced experiences for Americans who identify with multiple, traditionally marginalized identities.. Through poetry and prose of the #blacklivesmatter and LGBTQ movements we’ll look for ways that modern activists are using similar and different tactics than their predecessors in the Civil Right’s Movement.

7. 50 Nifty States!: How Americans Live and Work Across Diverse Landscapes
This exploratory workshop will use a range of primary sources to tell diverse stories of how everyday Americans in each state and region interact with the land to make a living. What are the Nation’s greatest resources and how are they being cultivated and distributed? The presenter will draw on her personal experience as the granddaughter of Vermont farmers as well as her travels across the United States. Students will leave this seminar with a more accurate picture of the diverse landscapes that exist across almost four million square miles.

8. The State of the Union: What’s Happening in the USA Today?
This discussion and media-based workshop will explore rapidly changing current events in the United States. No two workshops will be the same, as we’ll rely on the news of the day to guide our discussion and analysis. Students should be interested in the news and ready to ask questions, investigate controversial topics, and imagine implications for Norway, the United States, and our global community.

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Rachel’s Workshops for Ungdomsskole Teachers and Teachers-in-Training