Publication Date

January 1, 1996

Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?

The National History Education Network (NHEN), which is now located in the history department at Western Washington University, has been enlisted by the producers of Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego? to assist in developing themes for the shows that will air next fall. Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? will replace Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego, a game show for middle school students, done in collaboration with the National Geographic Society, has generated new interest in the field of geography among students and teachers since it premiered in 1991.

Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? is based on a computer game by Broderbund Software. The show has won major awards, including a George Foster Peabody Award, among the most coveted in broadcasting. Teachers have praised the educational materials, perhaps more important, have reported a new attitude toward geography among their students. More than 5 million young people tune in to watch master crook Carmen Sandiego each week.

The producers first identified NHEN as a resource in November 1994, at the annual meeting of the National Council for the Social Studies. They were looking for an organization that could help to conceptualize the show, work with them in selecting historical items around which individual shows could be built, and serve as fact finders to assure accuracy in the questions and answers used in the show. Representatives from several member organizations-the American Historical Association, the National Archives, the National Council for the Social Studies, the National Council on Public History, the National Historical Records and Publications Commission, the National Register of Historic Places, and the World History Association-met with the producers last March and provided a number of substantive recommendations, several of which have been incorporated or adapted writers and producers.

NHEN has continued to work with the s at WGBH/Boston and WQED/Pittsburgh, the public television stations responsible for the show. During the summer, NHEN assisted with funding the proposal, which resulted in support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Public Broadcasting Service, and the National Endowment for Children's Educational Television. NHEN is now working with the program's staff and writers to shape the 65 shows that will air in 1996-97. Kathleen Steeves, Laura Edwards, and I have represented NHEN at brainstorming sessions held in recent weeks.

Virginia Standards of Learning

NHEN is currently supporting the efforts of the Virginia Council for the Social Studies to further revise the Standards of Learning for History and Social Science, which were adopted in June 1995. Although these documents are advisory in nature, local educators are concerned that with the move toward more frequent assessment by the State Board of Education, the standards will take on a regulatory character.

The goal of Virginia's social studies teachers and administrators is, therefore, to achieve course curricula appropriate to the age level of the students, coherent and clear in their conceptualization, strategically placed so as to allow maximum cooperation among teachers assigned segments of sequential courses, and designed to convey not only content but also the critical thinking skills associated with the discipline.

Professional Development National Recognition Program

NHEN has been invited by the U.S. Department of Education to participate in developing a Professional Development National Recognition Program based on a set of principles identified and endorsed by the department. "The mission of professional development," according to the department's statement, "is to prepare and support educators to help all students achieve to high standards of learning and development." High-quality professional development “focuses on teachers as central to student learning, yet includes all other members of the school community; focuses on individual, collegial, and organizational improvement; respects and nurtures the intellectual and leadership capacity of teachers, principals, and others in the school community; reflects the best available research and practice in teaching, learning, and leadership; enables teachers to develop further expertise in subject content, teaching strategies, uses of technologies, and other essential elements in teaching to high standards; promotes continuous inquiry and improvement embedded in the daily life of schools; is planned collaboratively by those who will participate in and facilitate that development; requires substantial time and other resources; is driven by a coherent long-term plan; and is evaluated ultimately on the basis of its impact on teacher effectiveness and student learning.”

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