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December Bright Spots Winner Matthew Kiernan

Matthew Kiernan

Renaissance Charter School at Summit

Members of the CSUSA Education Team visited Renaissance Charter School at Summit to recognize Matthew Kiernan as the December Bright Spots winner! Mr. Kiernan is a 7th Grade Civics teacher who has been at Summit since its opening! His students and fellow teachers were beaming when they learned that one of their teachers received this amazing recognition!

Mr. Kiernan's submission was revolved around 21st Century Learning, explaining how much he strives to incorporate collaboration and communication in nearly all of his engaging lessons. With such an important and relevant topic like civics, Mr. Kiernan also strives to go the extra mile by incorporating real world connections.

"I seek to imbue my subject with real world connections as much as possible, preferring to focus my students attention onto how their rights and responsibilities as citizens live and breathe outside of dusty pieces of paper or our classroom."

Mr. Kiernan is able to do this by holding Socratic seminars where students hear and adjudicate arguments about the constitutionality of relatable policies such as free-speech in schools, cyber-bullying, and warrantless collection of cellphone metadata.

Another glowing example of Mr. Kiernan's effort to incorporate real world connections is through a Pokemon Go themed scavenger hunt, where his students hunted down different segments and articles of the Constitution. Throughout the activity, they were asked summative questions, and at its conclusion, students were then posed EOC type questions on what they learned.

Mr. Kiernan's tireless efforts to create 21st Century Learning lessons has had much success. In a pre-diagnostic test, only 25% of his students could explain the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, while 46% could interpret the Preamble of the Constitution. His engaging lessons throughout the unit certainly paid off, because by the end of the unit, 92% were able to discuss the weaknesses of the Articles, and 86% could interpret the Preamble!

"My goal is to have my students become fully engaged, active, and attentive participants in 21st century America. I do this by arming them with the ability to gather, comprehend, and disseminate accurate information to themselves, and others."

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