The Children Are Citizens project was chosen as one of HundrED's "Learning Forerunners Across America" this year! An initiative of the Professional Development Collaborative (PDC) at WIS, “Children Are Citizens: Children and Teachers Collaborating Across Washington, DC” (CAC) is a professional development and curriculum project inspired by the practices of the world-renowned municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. It is grounded in the belief that children are not just future or hypothetical citizens, but, instead, are citizens in their own right in the here and now, with the capacity to express their opinions and participate in the civic and cultural life of their city. The project aims to connect young children with the nation’s capital in meaningful, lasting ways.

HundrED, in partnership with Remake Learning and The Grable Foundation, has just released a new report, "Learning Forerunners Across America." The report identifies and highlights 16 innovations that power the most promising learning ecosystems throughout the United States. Children Are Citizens was chosen as the innovation for the DC/Maryland/Virginia region.

The release of this comprehensive report coincided with the national launch of Remake Learning Days Across America, a yearlong festival that kicked off on October 13. First launched in Pittsburgh in 2016, Remake Learning Days has since drawn international renown and taken root across the United States. This year, cities and regions from coast to coast will collectively host thousands of virtual (and, when safe, in-person) events designed to give families a firsthand look at the future of teaching and learning. 

As part of the kick-off to Remake Learning Days Across America, Grade 11 student Ana Diaz-Young was selected to teach a live lesson involving making. Nominated by Tregaron STEAM Community Coordinator Jaime Chao Mignano, Ana selected a project that her Design Technology class worked on during the spring of 2020. As Ana explained, once WIS transitioned to online learning last spring, Design Technology teacher Mr. Baldwin had the class work on a collective project. The students were tasked with creating a phone stand, and they spent time examining and sketching out different designs of their own until they came up with a product they liked. Once it came time to build the phone stand, Ana said, “Mr. Baldwin wanted us to use whatever materials we had in our house, since we didn’t have access to the tools in his classroom. He encouraged us to make it our own; at what angle did we want it to sit? What other features did we want? I wanted to be able to charge my phone, so I decided to make a hole in the bottom for the charger to go through.”

Alternate text

After Ana was chosen to teach her lesson, the Remake Learning team had a quick turnaround — about ten days between Ana’s first meeting with them and the final filming! Initially, the team asked Ana to create her own video explaining the process, but then they decided it would be better for her to do it over Zoom with one of the producers and hosts of Remake Learning Days, Yu-Ling Cheng. The result, seen HERE (skip ahead to 23:18 for Ana’s lesson, which is about six minutes long), is a fun, interactive video, showing how easy it is to create something useful with everyday materials. 

Ana was quite excited about the opportunity to share her love of making with a wide audience: “I thought it was a cool experience, because I love making. It allows me to take ideas that I have in my mind and then put them out into a physical product. It can be whatever my imagination creates, and not what anyone else is thinking about. I also think the premise of this project is really nice, because it encourages parents to get their kids to make things. Plus, any chance I get to just play around and build things is rare nowadays, with school and everything. I thought it was fun to share with all my friends and family, too. It was a great opportunity. The people that work there were really nice, and it’s good to build connections too. It ties in to what I want to do in the future, which is product design or engineering or something similar.”

People who watched the event live were also very impressed with Ana. Several attendees posted pictures of their own phone stands on social media, and here are some of the comments from the livestream:

  • ”Great job! Ana, you are awesome!”
  • ”Ana, you are a great maker teacher!”
  • ”This was fun! Thanks, Ana.”
  • “Do you have a YouTube Channel? You have great ideas and instructions.”

Congratulations to Ana and to everyone involved with Children Are Citizens!