On a scale of 1 to Excellent (10), our most recent group of teachers rated our online live seminars 9.86! And every single one of them reported they “definitely would recommend these online workshops to a colleague.

  • 98%

“Once again this was an excellent workshop.  As a novice, I appreciate the user-friendly format that allows us to explore important technical material in a manner that I, and my students, can understand.  The handout you sent us today is very helpful. . . . I am grateful for the straightforward way in which topics are labeled so that I can quickly identify and show topics over and over again.”

“The writing treatment process was clear and well explained. The multiple examples helped to understand how previous videos dealt with the communication of ideas.”

“I thought this was a great introduction to the process.  I have a better understanding of the main components of the documentary.”

“I am (or will be) using not just the film making aspects of these workshops, but the storytelling aspects as well. It is important for students to be able to tell a good, factually accurate, non-biased story and I believe you learn best when you communicate your knowledge to others. The things we learned about asking proper questions, framing our research, etc. will be used immediately in my classroom.”

“Today’s workshop helped me to understand the science behind a quality documentary.  We have all seen them, yet it is often difficult to explain why the documentary was so compelling.  Today, thanks to the presentation, I understand why.  I think this is critical to share with the students so that they too understand the elements they should be striving for.  As with each workshop, you present the material in a very user-friendly format which I appreciate greatly.  The examples and animations are vital and easy to follow.”

“The curriculum is very helpful, but as teachers we always feel pressed for time so the presentations help to focus on what is most vital to the project.  I also appreciate the variety of examples that are employed to show how the essential questions were addressed.  Each workshop inspires me more and more to push ahead with my students. I think my students are somewhat intimidated by the process, but your clear, supportive, and empowering approach makes me believe that together we can do it.”

“I have been teaching over 21 years and it is difficult to maintain the same passion for the subject material that I did when I was a novice.  This program ignites that passion once again. Your sincere goal of having the students share their voices, and their stories, inspires me to work alongside you in accomplishing this mission.  I appreciate your stance of turning control over to the students as we help facilitate the project and allow the students to assume the role of teachers.”

“I love that you use real world examples of what you are talking about. When you explain a topic, you then show us what it looks like in an actual film that has been produced.”

“The activities (gifts on the table, draw your community etc.) were amazingly well connected to the Habits of the Heart.  I see the benefits in the activities- it promoted opening up and seeing common ground.”

  • The presentations help to focus on what is most vital to the project.
  • It promoted opening up and seeing common ground.
  • Even at these early stages, the project is beginning to give a voice to students who have never really been listened to before.
  • You use real world examples of what you are talking about.

“Tonight’s meeting did a good job pulling back the curtain to reveal the levers that make the documentary happen. It was fascinating to hear the science and the methods behind how a good story comes together in film. I loved how you showed us the raw footage and then walked us through how the cuts were made and the B roll was added to tell a much more succinct and interesting story. This was another great session. Thanks!”

“Today’s session compelled me to personally experience the motivational activities I will employ with my students.  We desire to build a sense of community and political efficacy but how do you do it? How does one begin?  I feel tonight’s activities addressed those questions by making us look inward toward how we see ourselves, others, and our communities.”

“All of the information from these meetings will help me to better facilitate the documentary production process when implementing Civic Life next school year. Overall I found these meetings to be very informative with relevant examples and tips. I will probably have a lot of questions once I actually start the process, but these workshops have made me confident that this process is do-able. Thank you!”

“I plan on moving forward with my goal of having my lower level students create projects in alignment with the goals of this program. Two of my at risk students have literally committed themselves to my class because of this project.  Even at these early stages, the project is beginning to give a voice to students who have never really been listened to before.”

“I know many of my fellow teachers would relish the opportunity to participate in this program.  I appreciate the respect you have for teachers, both in constructing meaningful workshops and in your commitment to on-going support.  I want to thank you again for allowing me to participate in this program.  I hopeful that soon I, along with my student, will create a work that will meet your expectations.”

Both teachers and students learn from participation in the Civic Life Project.  Through a guided documentary research process, this unique and effective approach to Civics instruction allows students to explore an issue confronting their community, the Country or the world. Students work in teams to dive into all aspects of a particular topic; investigating the politics, economics, social dynamics and environmental concerns and then producing a film that expresses their point of view to a variety of audiences. Because students are researching topics that are of interest to them, they are actively creating their own definition of and context for citizenship and are therefore much more likely to continue the practice of civic engagement after they complete the course. Teachers provide the necessary instruction about U.S. political and economic processes as well as the skills required to create a film such as producing a treatment, conducting research and interviews, and all aspects of film production. Educators learn about how students interpret these concepts to make them real and meaningful in their lives. It is exciting to watch students experience moments of understanding, empathy and empowerment that is based on the personal connections and discoveries that are occurring as part of the Civic Life Process. The engagement generated by this work and the ensuing civic discourse that takes place in the classroom and in the communities where the films are shown is the positive energy that the U.S. needs to keep democracy alive and moving forward. As someone who has had the good fortune of teaching this course, I can attest to the fact that involvement with the Civic Life Project has been the most rewarding experience that I have had with students and the greater community. All schools should include this program as part of their Civics curriculum.”

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