Eighth-graders in Bethany Meyers’ social studies classes at McGee’s Crossroads Middle School are among three student groups nationwide helping to develop the new Sea of Liberty website.
The students are comparing the grievances the colonies outlined in the Declaration of Independence to the Bill of Rights and Constitution to show where our Founding Fathers responded to those complaints by protecting U.S. citizens in the Constitution.
“It is important to make connections between these two documents and the events leading to the Revolution with the laws and protections that are spelled out in the Constitution,” Meyers said.
The Sea of Liberty is an interactive website inspired by the popular Monticello exhibition, “The Boisterous Sea of Liberty.” Once the website goes live, teachers will be able to design interactive web-based projects and assign them to students to complete. Thousands of primary sources have been loaded onto the site for students and teachers to use.
Meyers’ eighth-graders are some of the only students in the country working on the site as they give feedback on what works and what they find hard with the site.
This past summer, Meyers attended the 2013 Liberty Today Talented Teacher Forum hosted by the Jefferson Foundation at Monticello. Fifteen teachers from around the country and two from Europe spent a week discussing Jefferson and his ideas with scholars, Monticello staff members and authors like Annette Gordon-Reed.
The teachers also worked on the Sea of Liberty website to provide feedback to the site’s developers. When the Monticello staff asked those teachers if they could try the site out with students before it went live, Meyers jumped at the opportunity.
“I thought it would be exciting for my students to pilot this program and be some of the only students in the country working on it right now,” Meyers said. “It is possible that some of their projects could end up in the showcase section as examples when the site goes live. It seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime chance for my students to impact a website that teachers and students from around the world will be able to access.”
In all, about five dozen scholars, staff members and teachers have contributed to the building of the site over the last two years. More information about the site is online at www.seaofliberty.org/about.