THIRTEEN/WNET New York Public Media Recognizes National Mission US Educator of the Year for Outstanding Use of Innovative Multimedia Classroom Resource
Marc Cizenski of Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES in New York State selected as winner for classroom integration of Mission US and professional development efforts
Mission US, a series of free role-playing games at mission-us.org, gives students a first-person perspective on American history
NEW YORK, Feb. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — THIRTEEN/WNET New York Public Media has named Marc Cizenski, a classroom teacher in the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES in Liverpool, New York, as the National Mission US Educator of the Year. The award is in recognition of Cizenski’s outstanding efforts to use the innovative multimedia resource to enrich the teaching of American history with students in his classroom and educators across the state.
Mission US is a series of free role-playing games developed to transform the way middle school students learn U.S. history. The second game in the series, “Flight to Freedom,” launched January 24, 2012, and immerses learners in the experiences of a runaway slave in the years before the Civil War. The first game mission, “For Crown or Colony?” launched in September 2010, and immerses players in the world of 1770 Boston before the American Revolution. The games, together with a rich variety of supplemental resources for students and teachers, are available at www.mission-us.org. Mission US is produced by public television station THIRTEEN in association with WNET and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
“We’re thrilled to honor Marc Cizenski as our National Mission US Educator of the Year,” said Jill Peters, Executive Producer. “Not only has he developed innovative and inspiring classroom activities around the game, but he is also a vocal and enthusiastic advocate for its use among his colleagues statewide.”
“When I was first introduced to Mission US by my principal, it seemed too good to be true,” said Mr. Cizenski. “My students have had the opportunity to make the history of America come to life, through the eyes of people their own age. As an educator at an alternative school, ‘Flight to Freedom’ and ‘For Crown or Colony?’ have been extremely encouraging – my students are truly excited to be learning.”
Mr. Cizenski was chosen as National Mission US Educator of the Year from among six finalists across the country. He will appear with the Mission US team on a panel about how scholarship, technology, and active learning are combining to bring American History to life at WNET’s annual Celebration of Teaching & Learning in New York City on March 16, 2012.
Mr. Cizenski was nominated for the national award through his selection as local Mission US Educator of the Year by WCNY, Syracuse’s local public television station. WCNY received a special grant from THIRTEEN to conduct in-depth educator outreach and professional development around the effective integration of Mission US into the classroom and curriculum.
Mission US has been developed to get middle school students to care about U.S. history by seeing it through the eyes of peers from the past. All of the Mission US games use state-of-the-art gaming technology combined with standards-aligned curriculum concepts to engage and appeal to today’s tech-savvy 21st century learners.
In 2011, Education Development Center (EDC) completed a major research study examining the use of Mission US by 1,118 seventh and eighth grade students in 50 schools across the country. The study found measurable gains in students’ historical knowledge and skills, and yielded positive feedback from teachers. A summary of the study’s key findings is available at cpb.org/features/missionus. Mission US is also a featured project of CPB’s “American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen” initiative to combat the nation’s dropout crisis.
Mission US is produced by THIRTEEN in association with WNET. Sandra Sheppard, THIRTEEN’s director of Children’s & Educational Media, is the executive-in-charge. Jill Peters serves as executive producer, with Michelle Chen, coordinating producer. Christopher Czajka, senior director of educational and community outreach, oversees national outreach for Mission US. The Mission US development team includes historians from the American Social History Project at CUNY, researchers from Education Development Center’s Center for Children and Technology, and game developers from Electric Funstuff. Outreach partners are the National Council for the Social Studies, the American Library Association/American Association of School Librarians.
New York’s WNET is America’s flagship public media outlet, bringing quality arts, education and public affairs programming to over 5 million viewers each week. The parent company of public television stations THIRTEEN and WLIW21 and operator of NJTV, WNET produces and presents such acclaimed PBS series as Nature, Great Performances, American Masters, Need to Know, Charlie Rose, Tavis Smiley and a range of documentaries, children’s programs, and local news and cultural offerings available on air and online. Pioneers in educational programming, WNET has created such groundbreaking series as Get the Math, Noah Comprende and Cyberchase and provides tools for educators that bring compelling content to life in the classroom and at home. WNET highlights the tri-state’s unique culture and diverse communities through NYC-ARTS, Reel 13, NJ Today and the new online newsmagazine MetroFocus.
CPB, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operation of more than 1,300 locally-owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.
Additional funding for Mission US is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities.