Civic Mirror project helps Westfield Middle School students learn

Westfield Middle School social studies teacher Stephanie Walker, Robby Bogdajewicz and Alex Coulombe  are using the Civic Mirror. (Submitted photo)

By Mark Ambrogi

Westfield Middle School eighth-grader Cyle Ginsberg found the Civic Mirror project an effective way to learn about how governments run.

“It’s a lot more involved than reading from a textbook and doing homework,” Ginsberg said. “It’s a lot easier to learn from actually doing something than reading about it.”

Ginsberg was in WMS social studies Stephanie Walker’s classes, which uses the Civic Mirror project to learn about how government operates.

“They turn the students into citizens of a country that they build on their own,” said Walker, who used Civic Mirror for the first time this semester. “The students come out with an actual identity, flag and geography of their country. The government is based on the U.S. Constitution, which is the curriculum for eighth grade.”

Walker said the students use budgeting and tax laws. The students elect a senate, house of representatives and a president.

“They appoint a judge so they learn about the separation of powers and checks and balances,” Walker said.  “It’s really a microcosm simulation of the United States.”

The students also learn about the economics of a nation.

“They are competing among themselves and my classes are competing against my other class periods to be better,” said Walker, who had five classes use the project.

The eight-week period has just been completed for Walker’s classes.

“I have an All-Star group that meets with me in the middle of the day,” Walker said. “It’s the kids that really loved it and want to keep playing it.”

Another WMS teacher, Joe Loeffel, has started it in his classes.

“We ended it with a video session with the three things each student learned,” Walker said. “It was very life experienced-based. Things they can take with them beyond the history. Things like remembering to use good morals and ethics when making business transactions so people will trust you and continue buying from you.”

Lincoln Strong, another of Walker’s students, said he learned more from participating.

“It’s more enjoyable than the usual classroom setting, so I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” Strong said. “The best part was how you could compete with your classmates to work to be better than someone else.”

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