(Tampa, FL) I have come down here to begin training high school teachers to use a new software package that we call “The Legislative Aide Game.” Students in social studies classes here will log onto a web site that treats them as interns in a fictitious Tampa-area legislator’s office. They will put a real biography on the legislator’s web page and start to receive emails with assignments from the legislator’s staff. These assignments will ask them to study an issue in the real community of Tampa. They will do some initial reading and web research, and then they will start using the same software that we have implemented with college students in Boston. They will generate network maps of people, organizations, and issues relevant to their overall topic. They will interview the people they have put on the map and store the information they learn in nodes. The map will help them to identify “levers”–people, organizations, and networks that are in a position to make a difference on the assigned issue. The students will conclude by writing and presenting an action plan that takes advantage of the “change levers” of the community. Although they don’t have to perform a service or action project in the real world to complete our curriculum, that would be a natural next step.
The teachers I met with this afternoon seemed fairly excited about the project, which will begin in January.