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Correction appended.

The Choices Program, an educational teaching resource run in collaboration with the Watson Institute for International Studies, has released an online feature on Haiti through its "Teaching with the News" program. The program aims to place the Jan. 12 earthquake in historical context for secondary schools across the country.

Director of the Choices Program and Senior Fellow of the Watson Institute Susan Graseck said the purpose of the news program was to "explore the past, shape the future" while developing a way to think about Haiti in a historical context. "We try to teach history through a civic lens," Graseck said.

The news program, which provides multimedia education through short online lesson plans, interviewed Professor of Africana Studies Anthony Bogues and Visiting Lecturer in Latin American Studies Patrick Sylvain.  In interviews for the news program, both professors encouraged students to think beyond the shock of the earthquake and to address the problem from a historical perspective.

The Choices Program, which also develops longer curriculum units for secondary schools, was established in 1982. The units break down global issues into their historical and present contexts. The lesson plans and texts are purchased by secondary schools and then integrated into classes, Graseck said. She said the different curriculum units have been used in about 8,000 schools around the country.

Professional Development Director for the Choices Program Mollie Hackett said topics for the longer curriculum units, which will include a new series on Haiti later this spring, are chosen in a variety of ways. "We normally cover issues that haven't been settled or we feel that there is a strong need to address," she said. The program also develops curriculum centered on historical turning points, like the Iranian revolution.

The material is presented in an unbiased, nonpartisan fashion, Graseck said. "We want the students to think about how to deal with the controversy."

A former secondary school teacher, Hackett said that "teachers are really looking for that spark."

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that curriculum units developed by the Choices Program have been used in 3,000 classrooms. The lesson for Teaching with the News on Haiti has been used in about 3,000 classrooms, while Choices Program materials have been used in about 8,000 schools. The Herald regrets the error.


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