For as many overlapping layers of standards that must be considered while implementing New Haven’s Civics curriculum, the “International Issues” course my school created as its yearlong pairing does not share these specific pedagogical constraints. As I mentioned at the start of my “Classroom Activities” section, this original unit was designed to be implemented within this “International Issues” course due to the flexibility it provided me in selecting the content and skills that I considered most beneficial for students. Staring on the local level with New Haven’s K-12 Social Studies Framework, the main standards that will be addressed can be found under “Inquiry Dimension 4” of the Civics and Government section— titled “Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action.”45 The higher-level skills within this dimension ask students to take an academic step past simply developing claims by having them evaluate their arguments against their classmates. These standards will be evaluated in a formative manner through classroom activities in preparation for the summative debate assessment at the conclusion of this unit. While starting a course by pushing students to meet more rigorous skill-based standards should be considered ill-advised without first meeting foundational goals, the supplementary nature of this “International Issues” course once again provided me with a unique flexibility in unit planning. My school’s Civics course focuses most of its units assessing students on the earlier “Inquiry Dimensions” in New Haven’s Social Studies Framework, allowing the 10th graders taking “International Issues” plenty of practice developing questions and evaluating academic sources. I, thus, hope to continue building upon the skills developed in Civics at the start of the school year by assessing students on the standards found within “Inquiry Dimension 4” at the conclusion of this unit.
As a larger consideration, each lesson plan developed within this unit will be aligned with Connecticut’s Common Core Standards based on whichever “Reading,” “Writing,” or “Speaking & Listening” skills students demonstrate while completing different activities.46 Since there are no specific mandates for which of these numerous Common Core Standards will be met throughout “International Issues,” their place in this unit will be more situational based on the different activities selected to prepare students for their summative assessment. While referencing Common Core provides a consistent framework for determining if my students can demonstrate a variety of general academic skills, I have found it to be a less helpful starting point for structuring an original unit. Instead, I have found more success in considering my content goals and unit assessment while creating the sample lessons included in this project before picking out the Common Core standards represented in these activities. Although this approach goes against my “backwards design” planning philosophy, I have found my diverse lesson activities to inadvertently represent a variety of these standards through. By prioritizing “Inquiry Dimension 4” from New Haven’s Social Studies Standards throughout this unit, however, “Speaking & Listening” Standards should be more represented in preparing students for their summative debate assessment.