Compass Kitchener & Grade 5 Social Studies


I am a member of Compass Kitchener

For the past year, I have had a behind the scenes role with the City of Kitchener that I haven’t told you about.

I am a member of Compass Kitchener which is an advisory committee for city council. I haven’t written about it partly because since we meet monthly, it’s taken me awhile to figure it out and learn what my role is. But I also didn’t want to create the impression that I had any special status because I don’t. Nothing that I say here or on Twitter, when appearing before council or anywhere else is the position of Compass Kitchener unless that is clearly communicated. Theron Kramer, who chairs the committee, is the person who would most often have that role–but again you would know when he’s speaking on the committee’s behalf.

Compass Kitchener advises city council mainly on a high level so our advice is more on the big picture side of decision-making. The committee’s biggest role is to help develop the city’s strategic plan. A new strategic plan was just passed by council. Before I joined, Compass Kitchener played an important role in finding out what residents think about the city and where it should be going. This was done using a variety of tools such as online and paper surveys, focus groups and a poll. This information was then analyzed to help determine the city’s next set of strategic directions.

Developing a strategic plan coincides with a newly elected council. Once passed by council, the role of Compass Kitchener is to evaluate the progress made and report back to residents in a Citizens’ Report Card. One of our subcommittees takes the lead on the report but that’s not part of my role.

Compass Kitchener also acts as a focus group on city initiatives such as the recent consultations on the future of downtown. It also plays a role connecting the other city committees so that they know, for example, what each is doing.

Looking for grade 5 teachers

I am a part of a subcommittee looking at how to engage youth in their city. One portion of the committee is focusing on high school students especially those taking grade 10 civics.

A couple other committee members and I are looking at how to develop a made in Kitchener unit on municipal government for grade 5 students. We know that connecting the unit to the curriculum is key if teachers are to use it. We also don’t want to recreate the wheel. We’re hoping to take some great units already being used and connect them more directly the city students are living in. Or to take the best of several units to make an even better unit.

We’d like to connect with grade five teachers in Kitchener schools. We’d love to talk to you especially if you have a passion for social studies. If you have a unit on municipal government that you think could be an inspiration, even better! Please contact me through this blog’s contact page or Twitter.

We’re keeping an open mind about what we’d like to do until we can sit down with some teachers but we have been floating some ideas on what we might want to do. We think for example that we should make sure kids know all of the things that the city does that affects their lives–everything from roads, to rinks, to snow clearing and summer playground. We think a video might be a good way to show that to kids. We also thought that a neat culminating project might be to have a mock council meeting with the students playing the different roles on an issue they can relate to. While this could be in the council chambers, it could be something that could be done in a classroom, library or gymnasium.

If you teach grade 5 in Kitchener and are interested, please contact us. How much time would be involved depends upon how much time you’d like to give. It could be a meeting or two to set us on the right direction or give feedback on a draft or it could be helping to figure out the details. We’re hoping to get a unit developed that could be piloted in the 2012-2013 school year and then rolled out to all Kitchener schools in both both English school boards the following year. We’d be happy to have a unit that could be used for French immersion or in the French language school boards too if possible.

If you know a grade 5 teacher who might be interested, please help spread the word.

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