Queen Latifah, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi … the New Jersey Hall of Fame has star power that you will find exciting and engaging. But since the inception of the Hall of Fame a few years ago, teachers have found that it provides more than just a celebration of great New Jerseyans. It also provides effective opportunities to teach young people about our State’s history, to introduce them to the voting process, to build leadership skills, and to boost pride in themselves and their community. As New Jersey teachers prepare young people to pursue their dreams and strive to accomplish great things, a new curriculum developed with the New Jersey Hall of Fame, provides some creative lesson plans to do just that.
The New Jersey Hall of Fame curriculum offers a unique opportunity for teachers to capitalize on the accomplishments of some remarkable New Jersey citizens and to inspire students to reach for the stars. The fun, yet thoughtful, activities help students to identify with others who not only share their Jersey roots, but share similar experiences and challenges. By learning about New Jersey Hall of Fame inductees, students can better recognize and develop the skills they need to reach their goals while strengthening their pride in their community.
The curriculum is divided into three units. The first unit, “Achievements of New Jersey Citizens: The New Jersey Hall of Fame,” helps students identify leadership qualities in Hall of Fame members, as well as in themselves. Students learn more about the role of New Jersey and its citizens in the larger context of United States and world history. Even more, they will develop an understanding between character and achievement. By presenting positive role models, this unit seeks to help young people make informed decisions about their lives.
Unit Two, “Voting for Hall of Fame Nominees,” introduces students to the voting process. The unit focuses on the rights and responsibilities of United States citizens. Because students can actually vote in an election, the voting process comes alive for them through an interdisciplinary approach that can be modified for grades six through 12. The lessons challenge students to develop critical thinking skills, communicate ideas, and reflect to understand themselves and their community better. They learn firsthand how they can affect decisions on major issues and they develop practical skills through the collaborative and independent activities.
In Unit Three, “Future New Jersey Hall of Fame Nominees,” students take charge in a project that will allow them to enhance academic skills while making an impact on their school and community. Essential questions are raised, such as “What makes a person an effective leader?” or “How can I become a leader?” This unit helps young people understand the leadership qualities in notable New Jersey figures and helps them to look at their own world and its leaders. Most importantly, it seeks to develop leadership skills in your students.
The units are designed to be introduced into the classroom in ways that fit your overall lesson plans. Whether the activities serve to complement your current instructional path or you utilize all three units, you will find a new way to excite, inspire, and motivate your students.
The New Jersey Hall of Fame Curriculum Guide will be available at njea.org and on the New Jersey Hall of Fame website www.NJHallofFame.org at the end of January. From Thomas Edison to Toni Morrison, you will find many reasons to bring the New Jersey Hall of Fame into your classroom and inspire your students to chase their dreams.