Teachers and students from across the Anaheim Union High School District are working on a capstone project focused on COVID-19 with the following Driving Question: How Is the Coronavirus Affecting Your Life?

The project is not focused within one particular subject matter, but could be cross-curricular and through the lens of any content. AUHSD educators realized that education has a great opportunity to make a great moment. They saw an opportunity for a teachable moment and wanted to make education relevant for students during school dismissals. Students were also aware they are living history and this was not just an opportunity to reflect from a distance, but reflect within the moment. For one generation it was JFK, for another 9/11, and for this generation of young people, COVID-19 will be a defining moment in their lives.

In addition, educators saw this as an opportunity to use technology to access resources, create, deliver, and showcase in a variety of mediums and platforms. Despite the fact that students are not sitting in physical classrooms, AUHSD educators felt they have a tremendous opportunity to engage students in a manner that builds their capacity in the 5Cs (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Character/Compassion) while simultaneously helping them to heal and make meaning of what they are experiencing in this unprecedented time.

AUHSD leadership realizes the importance of this teachable moment and, consequently, is giving AUHSD educators permission to pivot from their traditional curriculum to this COVID-19 Capstone for the remainder of the year, if interested. In addition to this support, District educators are connecting with colleagues and sharing ideas via a spreadsheet and social media. These projects range include photovoice presentations, reflective journals, data analysis, creative writings, documentary videos, website designs, and social media postings, among others. Finally, AUHSD will be showcasing the process and final products of projects via social media to the community starting today on Facebook and Instagram.

A Civically Engaged District

The COVID-19 Capstone is not the first time AUHSD students and teachers have turned their attention to issues within their community. AUHSD has a history of being at the forefront of civic learning and has been recognized for its students and programs focused on civic engagement.

AUHSD schools have received the top 2020 Civic Learning Awards, co-sponsored by Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond. These awards recognize K-12 public schools, celebrating their strong civics curriculum in school and service-learning projects in their communities.
Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye visits three schools to present the Award of Excellence, the top award given to one elementary, middle, and high school in the state. Last year, Cypress High School and Lexington Junior High School received the Civic Learning Award of Excellence and this year Savanna High School and South Junior High School won the highest honor. In addition to the three Awards of Excellence schools, six schools received the Award of Distinction. Two out of the six in the state also came from AUHSD: Walker Junior High and Loara High School.

AUHSD is also home to 10 designated California Democracy Schools, more than any school district in California. This designation means that a school has institutionalized civic learning, through projects like TED Talks or Capstones, and all students participate in that learning/project. If a school does not meet that criteria, via written application and panel visitation, then it will not be distinguished as a California Democracy School. The schools can be found on the following site/page: California DemocracySchools Website
“Our civic-engagement work with our young people reaches across the curriculum, reinforcing their identity, connecting their passions with classroom content, and making learning more relevant and meaningful to them,” AUHSD Superintendent Michael Matsuda stated.

“We are dedicated to making this investment in our students to help develop an educated, robust, vital citizenry for our state, our nation, and beyond. And we are excited and encouraged by the results and what they mean for the future of our nation.”

If you are interested in learning more about AUHSD civic learning, please read Superintendent Matsuda’s article recently published in Education Week focusing on student voice and civic engagement: ED Week Article

About the Anaheim Union High School District

The Anaheim Union High School District serves approximately 30,000 students in the communities of Anaheim, Cypress, Buena Park, La Palma, and Stanton. For more information about AUHSD visit our website, subscribe to our YouTube channel, and follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The article above was released by Anaheim Union High School District.