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Welcome to ClassPoP

Perspectives on the Teaching of Controversial Issues in High School Social Studies

Controversial issues present particular challenges for students who have to get beyond their own opinions, understand different perspectives, and make connections to other times, issues and places. To help teachers, teacher educators, and others reflect on what’s involved in teaching controversial issues, the websites bring together videos from two days of class in a 10th grade Global Studies course (coming soon) focusing on the nature of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and two days of a unit on the freedom of speech in a 12th grade government class and interviews with the two teachers and their students.

The sites illustrate how two teachers try structure their classes and their group discussions to take into account students’ prior knowledge, the students’ emotional investment in the issues, and the extent to which the students share the same perspective. In the process, the teachers strive to create a delicate balance that engages students in the topic and supports the exploration of a variety of different perspectives without getting students so excited that they fail to reflect on their own points of view.

These websites are part of ClassPOP, a collaborative project developed by Thomas Hatch and Anand Marri from Teachers College, Columbia University and the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning with the assistance of Ariel Kitch and Paul Neira. The websites are designed to give teacher education students a “virtual field experience” in which they can see unedited classroom videos and interviews and which teacher educators can use as sites of inquiry with their students. The websites were produced with materials collected in 2010, in two public high schools in New York City. The teachers were selected because of their connection to the Social Studies Program at Teachers College. While these sites were designed to be used in teacher education classes at Teachers College, Columbia University, they are made available here for anyone who may wish to explore them.

The ClassPOP websites build on work done at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and later at NCREST to make teaching public and amenable to analysis and critique. For general information and a historical overview of related websites, see: NCREST’s Images of Practice, and Making Teaching Public: A digital exhibition published by Teachers College Record. For discussions of the design and use of these websites in teacher education see Learning from the Practice of Veteran and Novice Teachers published by Journal of Teacher Education. For more information, comments, or questions, contact hatch AT or marri AT

Project Partners

Thomas Hatch, Associate Professor of Education, Teachers College Columbia University

Anand R. Marri, Associate Professor of Social Studies & Education, Teachers College, Columbia University

Ariel Kitch, Graduate Assistant, Teachers College Columbia University

Executive Producers: Frank Moretti, Maurice Matiz

Producer: Ryan Kelsey

Project Manager: Paul Joseph Stengel

Developer: Eddie Rubeiz

Web Design: Marc Raymond