Over the summer, Mrs. Todd traveled to Harvard University to learn about the case study method of teaching for her government classes.

The method involves having students read a narrative about the historical context of decisions and policies involving the government.

Then students come together to discuss what they read.

Todd stated, “The idea is that everyone is on the same page, so everyone is reading the same material.”

As opposed to students coming in with varying degrees of knowledge on a topic, she thinks that the case study method “levels the playing field” for a class discussion.

Todd explained that the case study method emphasizes engagement, civil dialogue and critical thinking.

“People don’t talk to each other about government anymore. Or they don’t at least do so with civility,” Todd added.

This new method is supposed to encourage students to talk about government “in a non-threatening way.”

It also encourages the students to not only identify but also work through the problems in the study and come to their own conclusions.

She says each case study presents students with background knowledge to decide, “Why were the decisions made that were made and was that the right decision?”

Todd will teach case studies on topics including the federal negative, Australian ballot, the Equal Rights Amendment, and on Martin Luther King Jr.

“I was shocked at the results, because I had never had so many students actually paying attention and engaged,” Todd said. 

The only class she has used this method in yet is her AP Government and Politics class, because the case studies are at a college freshman reading level.

She stated that Harvard’s statistics show that this method improves student’s scores on the essay portion of the government and politics AP test.

Todd is the only teacher at Laramie High School using the case study method, and she’s the only teacher from Wyoming to ever attend the training.

“They’re pretty particular that if you want to do the case study method, you have to go to a training,” Todd said.

While the case study materials are free, Harvard still guards them from those who haven’t been to a training.

Todd “can only print them” and “never copy and paste or anything like that.”

She has a secure logon to access the information for her case study discussions, and all related papers state, “This is solely for Meaghan Todd.”

She described the training as a group of teachers participating in a case study discussion with the Harvard professor.

Occasionally they would talk about how to implement the methods in their own classrooms.

“When you ask students to do something, it’s best to do it yourself at least once,” Todd said.

She was sent by a group called the League of Women Voters who paid for her travel, while Harvard paid for her stay.

The LWV sent out an email in the spring to find a teacher from Laramie, Cheyenne or Gillette to send.

Now Todd says she’s supposed to encourage her fellow teachers to do the training.