WXXI has named Bob Caulkins the Mission US Educator of the Year for the Greater Rochester region. Caulkins is being recognized for his outstanding efforts in usingMission US, an innovative multimedia resource, to enrich the teaching of American history with his students at Gananda Middle School in Walworth, New York.
Mission US is a series of free online games, produced by public television station THIRTEEN, in association with WNET.ORG, designed to “revolutionize” the way socialstudies learning takes place in classrooms and homes. The games, together with a rich variety of supplemental resources for students and teachers, are available at www.mission-us.org.
Caulkins was introduced to the game at one of two workshops offered by WXXI in partnership with THIRTEEN/WNET, the Rochester City School District and the RochesterArea Council for the Social Studies. The station was one of 10 public television stations across the country to receive a grant to help local educators explore the rich environment of Mission US and maximize the program with their students. After attending WXXI’s workshop, Caulkins shared the project with both his middle school and high school Social Studies Departments, and personally integrated Mission US into his 7th grade social studies classes to support a unit on Causes of the AmericanRevolution. All 86 of his students completed the game. Caulkins also linked the homework activities for the unit with the game, and found that students didn’t look at their homework the same way. They saw it as their mission.
“WXXI is proud to provide the educational programs and services that help strengthen our community,” said WXXI President Norm Silverstein.
Designed for use at home or in school, the game may be played individually or collaboratively. Mission US helps students with different learning styles and acquire information and insights critical for understanding history as outlined in state and national education standards. In addition to the game, the Mission US website offers numerous downloadable resources and activities for classroom use, including document-based questions, a primary source collection, vocabulary activities, background onhistorical figures, writing prompts, and visual aids. The first game, Crown and Colony, deals with the Boston Massacre and the American Revolution.Four more games are in development to deal with other time periods and events in American History.
“Mission US has enhanced my teaching by helping to bring history alive to my students,” explains Caulkins. “The make-up of the game and the story line brought a greater understanding of American History to my kids.”
Caulkins is one of ten educators across the country to be selected as local Mission US Educator of the Year.Of these ten finalists, one will be named the National Mission US Educator of the Year and recognized at WNET.ORG’s Celebration of Teaching & Learning Conference in New York City in March 2011. In addition, Caulkins will be featured in a television spot where he’ll share his experience with Mission US in his classroom. He’ll also receive a $250 cash prize.
The grant awarded to WXXI also supported a webinar and other training, as well as the production of a 3-minute segment on the Mission US game to air in WXXI’s statewide Homework Hotline program and its weekly national series for the classroom, Assignment: The World. Mission US is produced by public television station THIRTEEN, in association with WNET.ORG, and with major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and additional funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.