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A,B,C’s of Literacy/Helping Madison Read

Students in this class work with the United Way, Schools of Hope, and VISTA to tutor reading to 25 students in a Safe Haven after school program at Mendota Elementary School. In addition these Shabazz students have encouraged writing skills for 25 Leopold Elementary students through weekly pen pal letters.

Amnesty International

Students in this class work on their grammar and style by writing letters to governmental officials on behalf of nine “prisoners of conscience” around the world. The students then design a card which is made available to Shabazz students and staff to send messages of hope to these nine prisoners.

Animal and Human Relationships

Students in this class, in collaboration with the Humane Society, the Alliance for Animals, and RAVEN, study cases of animal maltreatment. After their research, the students decide what actions they will take to address the cruelty of thousands of animals throughout the U.S.

Banned Books & Censorship

Students in this class read and discuss banned books. They then create an educational display for the Shabazz community and families concerning censorship.

College Prep English

Students engage in a research project about a topic of interest to them. Utilizing formal research writing skills, the students develop papers that are sent to state officials who have the power to implement the recommended changes.

Conventional Wisdom

The goal of this class is to help further an understanding of Service Learning to others in the district—specifically area middle schools. Students in this class will deepen their understanding of Service Learning in order to plan, publicize, and facilitate a day-long Middle School Service-Learning Conference for 70-80 middle school students and staff, where the goal is to plan and teach the concepts of Service Learning and the steps needed to create Service-Learning projects.

Escape and Exile

Students in this class interview recent Madison immigrants. Working with the United Migrant Opportunity Service, Amnesty International, and U.S. Out Now, each student analyzes places in the world where violence and war are causing civilians to escape or to be exiled. They then write letters to numerous public officials advocating for human rights and the end of violence.

GLBT History

Students in this class study the presence of homosexuality throughout history. Service projects will vary from organizing teacher inservices for staff development days to creating children’s books about GLBT families to give to district elementary schools.


Students work with the Rape Crisis Center of Dane County to study the issue of sexualized violence and harassment, and learn communication tools to use in response to these situations in their school and community. Then these students share their information, values, and skills with all of the Sherman seventh grade classes. They also prepare materials for Sexual Assault Awareness Month for educating their 140 peers and staff at Shabazz.

International Poetry Guild

This is a web-based language arts program that develops students’ writing abilities while encouraging them to become critical, appreciative readers of poetry. Students work in partnership with nine other schools across the globe to produce 10 journals of original poetry. The schools are in daily contact with one another, posting their poetry in the web-based computer conference to which all schools have access, and read and comment on the work of others. The goal of each editorial staff is to produce and publish a journal in keeping with their artistic concept. Copies of the finished journals are then exchanged among each school and a poetry CD is produced. At the end of the semester, the class hosts a public poetry reading to raise funds for a cause decided upon by the class.


Students in this class take a critical look at the media in an attempt to discern the “truth.” They then publish their own political journal, Baggage, for the entire Shabazz community. Later they will work with Wisconsin Public Radio, WORT, and the Independent Media Center to record, edit, and air a radio documentary for the wider Madison community.

Male Identity

Students explore the broad spectrum of male identity. In these explorations, they are sure to face “issues” that are specific to men, and these “issues” are generated by the class. The focus of this class is on building community, relationships, sexuality, violence, and the contributions made to others and our community. Also, we will create a real labyrinth for the school.

Media Literacy: Reading the World

Students take a close look at the media around them. What are they being sold, or asked to believe? How and why are they targeted by different forms of media? What kinds of thoughts lead to the advertisements they see? What would they change if they could? Students complete two small projects and one large one that deals with media that they would like to see.

New Visions/C.L.A.S.S.

Students in this class study the philosophy of alternative education. They develop a strong student voice by strengthening their leadership skills. These students take responsibility for orienting the new students to the Shabazz Policies, organizing all-school meetings and “Days Away.” They also host visiting students and discuss Shabazz with educators from local, state, and national programs.

Ready for Reading and Willing to Write

Students explore their own progression of literacy and learning specific techniques for teaching literacy. They head out into a local elementary school and work one-on-one with a student on his/her reading and writing skills.

Shabazz Experience

Required for all new students, this class helps curb harassment by teaching the “Shabazz Non-Harassment Policy” to approximately 150 Sherman Middle School students each year. In addition, these Shabazz students also teach these sixth graders about the life and work of Malcolm Shabazz.

Shabazz Video Project

Students learn the elements of composition, lighting, audio, camera movement and story telling. They then produce a video about Shabazz that will be seen as part of the orientation class, which will be viewed by approximately 120 new students each year.

Social Justice

Students in this class study the culture and rights of people with disabilities with a staff member from the Family Support Network and numerous community residents. They then do a service project with the Wheelchair Recycling Project, which serves hundreds of people with disabilities within local, state, national, and international communities.

State Street Initiative

Students in this class conduct interviews of the Mayor’s staff, the Madison Urban Planning and Police Departments, and local business owners. Then they develop surveys and interviews to capture a “youth voice” from 500 high school students regarding their views of State Street. This data is presented to the Mayor’s staff and members of the Police Department and integrated into their planning of a State Street renovation.

Study of Death & Dying

Students in this class look at death and loss from a sociological point of view. Then the students visit Hospice, meet with a patient there, and raise money to buy items for the Hospice Wish List.

30th Anniversary Celebration (Part I)

Students research major events, music, and images of the past 30 years. This information creates the context for a multimedia production that is shown to hundreds of participants at the Shabazz 30th Anniversary Celebration.

What’s for Lunch? A Course in College Prep Radio Journalism

Ever wonder how the school district can qualify a pretzel, cheese sauce, raisins, and cookie dough as a nutritional lunch? Well, this class gives students the chance to use their skills in English to address a vital issue to their health and education. Students integrate research, writing, and speaking to produce a high quality radio documentary to be aired on WORT.

Women’s Issues in Our Society/Patchwork: Women’s Voices

This course focuses on topics concerning women in our society. Topics include how the media portrays women, body image and eating disorders, self-esteem and personal control issues, violence against women, how to create healthy relationships, sexuality, women’s health, and the celebration of women’s community and creativity. Students develop and find a place for their views within their personal and extended communities. They network with staff from the Rape Crisis Center, Chimera Self-Defense Program, the Oasis Project, Men Stopping Rape, and the UW Women’s Studies Department to increase their awareness and advocacy skills. In addition to mentoring 15-20 Sherman Middle School girls, these Shabazz students develop an educational campaign for Sexual Assault Awareness Week.

Writing and Illustrating Books for Children

To encourage literacy among young children, English and Art students in this class collaborate to create individualized books for approximately 50 students in K-1 classes at Lakeview and Lincoln Elementary Schools.