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Westport May Revamp Middle School Curriculum

WESTPORT, Conn. – A change to Westport's middle school social studies curriculum may be on the horizon. The Board of Education last week heard a proposed revision that aims to make students more globally competent.

Through the proposed Global Citizen curriculum, drafted by a team of teachers from Bedford and Coleytown middle schools, students would gain a better understanding of the country and the world by learning why things happened, not just what happened, said James D'Amico, social studies department chairman for grades 6-12.

D'Amico said the proposed curriculum is also designed to better develop skills that students need to thrive in the 21st-century world, such as critical thinking and problem solving.

“Our students will be better positioned with both the knowledge and thinking skills to develop into effective and educated citizens of both the country and the world,” D’Amico said. “This curriculum is a step forward to fostering more sophisticated thinking about the world.”

Under the Global Citizen curriculum, sixth-grade studies would focus on geography and culture. Jeremy Royster, a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Bedford, said the course would have three themes: looking at the world through social sciences, the impact of geography on culture, and geographical connection to global challenges and possible solutions.

The seventh-grade curriculum would focus on progress in an interconnected world, said Bryan Davis, a seventh-grade teacher at Coleytown Middle. Course themes would include the development of nations, the interaction of nations, and national progress and competition's connection to global challenges and possible solutions.

In the eighth-grade curriculum, students would examine the American identity, D'Amico said. Course themes would be conflict and competition, and justice and equality.

Last year, the board approved a curriculum change to the ninth-grade social studies requirement, replacing the Western Humanities course with Global Themes. The proposed Global Citizen curriculum, D'Amico said, is "designed to support the type of thinking that students will need to be successful at the high school as expressed in the ninth-grade Global Themes curriculum."

The board will vote on the Global Citizen curriculum at its next meeting Oct. 11. If approved, its proposed the curriculum be implemented in the 2012-13 school year for sixth-grade, the 2013-14 school year for seventh-grade, and the 2014-15 school year for eighth-grade.

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