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This past academic year, Lakeland piloted a new approach for its freshman Core I classes.
The course, which was taught by 10 different teachers to approximately 150 students, was broken into key questions that tied into the seven different academic units that students must fulfill in order to graduate. Some examples of questions that provided framework for the students' research, readings and discussion:
* Are you average: How do numbers attempt to define who you are? If you had to set college admission standards, what would they be and why?
* tudents read seven core American documents, including The Pledge of Allegiance, The National Anthem, The Declaration of Independence and The Gettysburg Address. Discussion questions included: Are you an American? How does an American define patriotism? How does an American define equality?
* Students explored ways societies construct categories that define people and the ways the categories influence our perceptions of self and others. Discussion questions included: What is a stereotype? What is meant by conformity?
Other units included cross-cultural, religion, science and art.
Each class worked on a final group project that required students to design an eighth perspective that they could use to define themselves.
Students prepared a poster presentation and all sections met together during finals week to discuss their results.
"One of our goals is to have students think about concepts they have had little to no contact with," said Jeff Elzinga, chair of Lakeland's General Studies Division. "For those who have covered this material, we want them to deepen their thinking."