Civics360: A New Resource for Civic Education



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Good morning, friends in Civics. Over the past few years, teachers here in Florida and elsewhere in the United States have made heavy use of the Escambia Civics Review Site. We do believe that the partnership with Escambia County and the willingness of that district to host and share resources for teaching and learning has been beneficial for everyone. Over time, however, requests have been made and ideas contemplated about improvements that could be made to make that site even better. These requests and ideas include more student friendly videos, more helpful assessment tools, and resources for ESOL students and struggling readers. With that in mind, the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, in partnership with Escambia County Schools,  is excited to announce the launching of a new Civics review site that will, later this summer, replace the currect Escambia Civics Review Site: Civics360. Civics360 is free to all registered users, much like our current Florida Citizen website. This site is now live and available for your use.

civics360 cover

So what are the new features you will find in Civics360? Take a look at the orientation video below, which walks you through the registration process, and read the rest of the post to learn about what we hope will be a useful resource for you and your students.

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Florida Council for the Social Studies Establishes New Student Civic Engagement Award!

Doug Award (1)

Dr. Doug Dobson receives a plaque recognizing the student civic engagement award in his honor from incoming FCSS president Peggy Renihan

It is with great excitement and appreciation that UCF’s Lou Frey Institute and its Florida Joint Center for Citizenship subsidiary shares some wonderful news from the Florida Council for the Social Studies (FCSS) recent annual conference, held the weekend of October 18, 2019 in Orlando. FJCC’s director of professional development, Ms. Peggy Renihan, was installed as the president of FCSS, the state’s leading association of professional social studies educators.


At the same time, LFI’s interim executive director, Dr. Steve Masyada, was the recipient of the Dr. B.J. Allen Outstanding Leadership Award. This award honors an outstanding FCSS educator who has served the professional organization in a comprehensive way. It emphasizes service to FCSS and to social studies during the year or years immediately past.


Both Renihan and Masyada, as well as other LFI staff, have played a significant role in both FCSS and social studies and civics education in the state of Florida and nationally, and we at LFI are so pleased to see them recognized.

More excitingly, recently retired Lou Frey Institute Executive Director and now LFI Senior Fellow Dr. Doug Dobson was surprised and honored by FCSS creating a permanent student award in his honor. The Dr. L. Douglas Dobson Student Civic Engagement Award is the Florida Council for the Social Studies’ first student-centered award, and is intended to recognize a K-12 student or students who demonstrated outstanding civic engagement and leadership. Dr. Dobson has long been one of the driving forces behind civic education in Florida, culminating in the passage of the Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Education Act. This act is the reason that Florida is now recognized as a national leader in civics education, and Dr. Dobson’s work, vision, and leadership have helped make the Lou Frey Institute one of the state’s (and the nation’s!) leading civic education organizations. Congratulations to Dr. Dobson for a well-deserved recognition and a legacy that shall live forever through the Florida Council for the Social Studies.

For more information on UCF’s Lou Frey Institute, please be sure to visit their homepage at

Congressman Lou Frey Celebration of Life Nov 1 2019

Lou 3


Good morning friends. We just wanted to let you know that Congressman Lou Frey’s Celebration of Life is open to the public, and we hope to see you join us, as Lou so loved civic education and how it could shape our young people and our state. It will be held this Friday, 10 a.m. at St. John Lutheran Church, 1600 S. Orlando Avenue, Winter Park, 32789. Overflow parking is available at Mead Botanical Garden which is a couple of blocks from the church. Mead Gardens will have a golf cart to transport those who can’t make the walk to the church.

Memorial contributions can be made to: The Lou Frey Institute at UCF, 12443 Research Parkway, Suite 406, Orlando, FL 32826-3297

And if you have a few minutes, please take a read of Representative Stephanie Murphy’s remembrance of Lou on the floor of the House. 

View the Affordable Housing Discussion at UCF, Hosted by the Lou Frey Institute

On October 29, the Lou Frey Institute was thrilled to host a discussion of affordable housing in central Florida, with a particular attention to college students. We were joined at this discussion by Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith (District 49),

Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla (District 5),

Rep Anna Eskamani (District 47),

AJ Range (UCF Assistant VP, Neighborhood Relations & Safety Education),
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and Oren Henry (City of Orlando Director of Housing & Community Development).

oren henry

It was wonderfully moderated by LFI’s own Dr. Terri Susan Fine.

The talk addressed questions of rental and housing stock, transportation, homelessness, and of course affordable housing and housing/rental development. We are grateful for all that chose to attend, and for everyone involved in the planning and implementation, especially LFI’s Shena Parks, who was a driving force in putting this wonderful event together. Thank you to to the panelists, who were honest, open, and frank in the discussion on this issue. You can view the entire discussion in the videos below!



Affordable Housing Discussion at UCF Sponsored by the Lou Frey Institute

One of the most pressing issues here in the Orlando area is affordable housing, and everything that goes with it. In addition to our general work in civic education, the Lou Frey Institute is dedicated to facilitating conversations around issues of civic concern. Please consider joining us on Tuesday evening, October 29th, for a discussion about affordable housing. More information is below!

Affordable Housing

Town Hall Meeting

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

6 – 8 p.m.

Morgridge International Reading Center, UCF

The Lou Frey Institute is hosting an Affordable Housing Town Hall at UCF in partnership with Florida State House Representatives

Carlos Guillermo Smith ’03

Anna Eskamani ’12 ’15MNM

and District 5 Commissioner

Emily Bonilla ’03

The event will be held to discuss affordable housing in Central Florida, with a special focus on its impact on college students.

This event is FREE and open to the public!

RSVP is requested.

Parking is available in Parking Garage A

and Lot B5 for $5 per vehicle.


On the Passing of the Honorable Lou Frey, Jr.


It is with tremendous sadness that we share with you the news that Congressman Lou Frey, Jr., whose name graces the Institute that houses the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, has passed away.

Lou had a long legacy of service to this nation, from service in the Navy (retiring from the Naval Reserve as a Captain in 1978) and in local government here in Orange County to his five terms as a Congressman representing this region and the state of Florida. Lou was a strong advocate for civic education, and with Senator Bob Graham was a driving force in the passage of the Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Education Act.

He was a man who could cross party lines and who appealed to so many in this state for his honor, his attention to constituents, and his love of Florida and his country. Congressman Frey, you will be missed.

We encourage you to learn more about Lou Frey, Jr. here, as there is so much more to him than what we have posted here.

You can also visit his dedicated page on C-Span, where a number of videos illustrate his knowledge of our political system, Congress, and his wonderful character and sense of humor.

And check out this interview the Congressman did with a young student about civic education and public service. A really powerful short piece that says so much about his work and leadership.

Florida Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference THIS WEEKEND!!


Good afternoon friends! Don’t forget that the 2019 Florida Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference is coming and the end of this week, and there is still time to register! There will be so much good stuff. A fun themed reception will happen Friday night, so come dressed as your favorite villain or hero (historical or otherwise!) and enjoy some refreshments and networking with colleagues, friends, and peers. Explore the exhibit hall, where we have a number of excellent vendors available to support your work. Check out the keynote session on Saturday morning, and the excellent sessions all through the conference. And of course don’t forget the Professional Awards Dinner Saturday evening, where we will recognize our state social studies teachers of the year!

So come join us and grow, make new friends, find new colleagues, and have some fun! Register today! 

Teaching About Impeachment

Without a doubt, one of the relevant social studies discussion topics in the news today is the topic of impeachment. This is not a subject that is approached without trepidation in the current climate, but can we really teach government, civics, or history without addressing such significant current events? So how we can do this in such a way that our students learn and grow and we don’t end up in the news? In this post, we’ll share some good resources that can help you teach about impeachment! One of the things you will note here is that we DO NOT suggest asking students to take a position on the impeachment of President Trump. That is simply not a feasible or appropriate question for many of our classrooms. Instead, let’s consider other ways to address the difficult but important current event.

Pedagogical Suggestions 

Dr. Emma Humphries of iCivics offers a really good suggestion for approaching instruction around impeachment: 

Teaching the history can be another safe approach. And if you’re teaching older grades with higher reading levels, you can dive right into the Federalist Papers. What did Alexander Hamilton say in Federalist 65 about the impeachment process? Let’s start there. Let’s walk through what happened with President Johnson, with President Nixon, with President Clinton. What similarities do you see? How are these circumstances different? And ask a lot of questions. When students provide answers, really push them to provide evidence in those answers rather than just say what they’re feeling.

Be sure to check out the rest of her interview linked above! She discusses how to approach it with parents, how to address issues in the classroom, and more.

Teaching Impeaching: When Lessons Change
Jennifer Hitchcock
This blog post, by Jennifer Hitchcock from the iCivics Educator Network, presents her own experience in teaching about the impeachment inquiry and provides a good outline of the questions that she asked with her students. Please give it a read, as it really can help you decide how you want to approach this.

An Important Note

Well, we all want resources, don’t we? We’ve taken a look at some of the resources floating around out there (as always, be real careful about what you are pulling off of Teachers Pay Teachers or similiar sites), and identified a few that you might be able to use. As always, make sure that you are aligning your resources and instruction with the relevant standards and benchmarks. Some example middle school civics benchmarks are below.

Relevant Florida Middle School Civics Benchmarks

SS.7.C.1.7 Describe how the Constitution limits the powers of government through separation of powers and checks and balances.
SS.7.C.1.9 Define the rule of law and recognize its influence on the development of the American legal, political, and governmental systems.
SS.7.C.3.12 Analyze the significance and outcomes of landmark Supreme Court cases including, but not limited to, Marbury v. Madison, Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, Gideon v. Wainwright, Miranda v. Arizona, in re Gault, Tinker v. Des Moines, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmier, United States v. Nixon, and Bush v. Gore.
SS.7.C.2.10 Examine the impact of media, individuals, and interest groups on monitoring and influencing government.
SS.7.C.2.13 Examine multiple perspectives on public and current issues.
SS.7.C.3.3 Illustrate the structure and function (three branches of government established in Articles I, II, and III with corresponding powers) of government in the United States as established in the Constitution.
SS.7.C.3.8 Analyze the structure, functions, and processes of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches.
Also Assesses: SS.7.C.3.9—Illustrate the law making process at the local, state, and federal levels.
SS.7.C.3.11 Diagram the levels, functions, and powers of courts at the state and federal levels.
Also Assesses: SS. 7.C.2.6—Simulate the trial process and the role of juries in the administration of justice.

What benchmarks you choose will depend on the approach you take towards teaching about impeachment, so plan accordingly!

Resources for Instruction

High Crimes and Misdemeanors 
Constitutional Rights Foundation


This resource provides a strong foundation in understanding the constitutional language around impeachment. It has students completing an extended reading and associated comprehension questions about what ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ means, and then gets into a scenario-based activity around the concept.

The Impeachment Process and President Trump
The Choices Program


While the title of this resource may raise in the teacher the fear of parent (and school) pushback, it does not ask students to decide whether President Trump is worthy of impeachment. Rather, it is mainly focused on understanding media and sources, and developing media literacy skills, using the impeachment inquiry as a relevant and important foundation. Note, for example, that it provides sources from both sides of the question around the appropriateness of the inquiry. I would happily use this resource no matter what.

How Does Impeachment Work-A Quick TED Explainer

The video and its associated page (available at the link above) does a simply fantastic job laying out the process of impeachment and how it works. Indeed, the video is a really useful resource for helping kids how the process as a whole is supposed to be done. It’s worth your time!

Impeachment Proceedings
The Bill of Rights Institute

BORI impeach

This lesson, like others we have shared here, focuses on the process and the approach to impeachment, exploring the constitutional questions around impeachment.

A Final Note

The resources provided here take a couple of different approaches to teaching about impeachment, but they all have one thing in common: they DO NOT ask students to ‘decide whether President Trump deserves to be impeached’. While you are free to take that approach, you MUST recognize that you are likely opening a can of worms that could lead to challenges you may not want to or be able to deal with, especially as this is an ongoing event AND a heated emotional and political issue. The best approach is one that focuses on process and the Constitution and media literacy (which is why the Choices lesson is so good!).

Do you have resources about impeachment that you think are worth sharing? Shoot them our way! 




Florida Afterschool Alliance Recognizes the Efforts of the Lou Frey Institute!

Some happy news, friends! The Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government (LFI) was recently recognized for their work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida’s After School Zone by the Florida After School Alliance (FASA).  LFI was honored with the inaugural Special Recognition Award for their contribution to the civic well-being of Florida’s youth.

Since 2017, LFI and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida have partnered to provide a hands-on, civic learning experience for students in their after school program.  The Civic Action Project (CAP), was designed in collaboration with the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF), and is a free resource available to schools and community groups from CRF. CAP provides young people with opportunities to deliberate, collaborate, and form civic relationships with their peers as they investigate issues that matter to them. The premise of the project is to get young people to be thinking about their community, the impact public policy has on their community, and the ways they can interact with the decision makers to positively affect the issues they identify happening in their community.

In their nomination of the Lou Frey Institute to the FASA Awards Committee, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida said,

“The UCF Lou Frey Institute collaborative supports our Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida After School Zone mission of inspiring and enabling all young people including those from disadvantaged circumstances to reach their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens. The Civic Action Project equips our middle school students with the tools for positive participation in local politics, social advocacy, and community engagement. Through the community involvement of the Lou Frey Institute, our young people are empowered to work as a team with their peers and adult leaders to promote historic initiatives that have the potential for lifelong benefits within the Central Florida region and beyond.”

Young people participating in the After School Zone have addressed projects that include, but are not limited to:

  • Cyber bullying prevention
  • Advocacy for adapting school and community playgrounds for children with disabilities
  • Elevating education for middle school students
  • Mental health support services for students
  • School gun violence prevention
  • Food waste prevention among school cafeterias in Orange County, Florida

Kelvin Curry, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida’s Director of Middle School programs said,

“The Civic Action Project truly inspires and enables our young people to have a real voice and leave their positive mark on society as those who can stand on the right-side of history.”


The Lou Frey Institute was honored at the Florida After School Alliance’s annual awards banquet held at the end of September.

If you are interested in learning more about the Civic Action Project for your school or community group, please contact the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship’s Action Civics Coordinator, Chris Spinale. You may also reach out to LFI Interim Director Steve Masyada for more information.

Session Highlights of the 2019 FCSS Annual Conference: Florida CUFA Sessions


Good afternoon friends! Don’t forget that the 2019 Florida Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference is coming soon (and you can register here!). Not only do we have some excellent regular sessions planned, but we also have our friends and colleagues from the Florida College and University Faculty Assembly joining us! Let’s take a look at some of their featured sessions, which targets those interested in some specifically research focused or driven sessions around the social studies! Please note that this list features only some of the planned sessions. 

Session 1

Complexity & Connections: Archaeology Addresses AP World History
Shannon Peck-Bartle, University of South Florida


Changes in the Advance Placement World History curriculum limit students’ ability to develop complicated webs of connections and human interactions. The use of material culture and archaeological methods are suggested to “thicken” the curriculum.

“I don’t want to cause trouble”: A white history teacher’s negotiation of racial boundaries in a diverse rural school
Travis Seay, University of Florida



This narrative case study of a white history teacher uses a framework of cultural memory to situate racial and historical knowledge in the teaching and learning setting.

Session 2

The LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum: An Imperative for the Social Studies
Bárbara C. Cruz, Katty B. Francis, and Cristina M. Viera, University of South Florida


LGBT Bug_CMYK_update


This presentation provides a brief history of LGBTQ content in the K-12 social studies curriculum. Discussion focuses on popular approaches for integrating LGBTQ issues in the curriculum, current legal challenges, and trends in the field.

Incorporation of Cross-Curricular Training in Social Studies and English Language Arts Pre-Service Teacher Preparation Programs
Allison Sheridan, Mary Dougherty, and Chris Spinale, University of Central Florida


For this study, the researchers aimed to examine how university programs are preparing pre-service teachers to incorporate social studies standards into ELA classrooms and vice versa. 

Session 3

Adolescent Identity Exploration and Civic Identity Development in a U.S. Government Classroom
Sarah Mead Denney, University of South Florida



This multiple case study examined adolescent identity exploration and civic identity development in an AP U.S. Government class. Findings suggest the promotion of these processes is both possible and practical, but require intentional, purposeful teaching.

How Do I Get My Ideas Published?
Scott Waring, University of Central Florida



This session will include general publishing tips and an overview of four social studies journals currently edited by the presenter.  The remaining time will allow for discussion and an opportunity to pose questions.

Be sure to check this space for more! Register for the conference today! 

Learn here about the keynote!

Check out some of the sessions! and here!  and here! 

Check out some of the exhibitors here! and here!


The 2019 Florida Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference: Highlighting Some More of the Exhibitors!


Good afternoon friends! Don’t forget that the 2019 Florida Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference is coming soon (and you can register here!). Not only do we have some excellent sessions planned, but we also have some fine exhibitors joining us. Today, we’ll highlight a few more (and don’t forget about some of the other ones that we covered earlier!).

The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute

If you are reading this blog, you are likely familiar with the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at UCF’s Lou Frey Institute. If you aren’t, take a look here and find out what we have to offer you to support your work in teaching civics, government, and US history. Or just visit our table at FCSS! We are excited to be able to still attend and support the Florida Council for the Social Studies and continue our outreach to teachers new and old!

Step Up America

step up

Step Up America joins FCSS at its annual conference again this year, and I know FCSS is happy to have them there. If you aren’t familiar with the good work that these folks do, be sure to check out their website and visit their space in the exhibit hall. Their Franklin Project is a unique learning experience that engages students of all ages. Ben Franklin comes directly into the classroom and interacts in real-time with students to present them with the civics and history lessons that are required by state standards. Be sure to stop by and say hi!

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History


FCSS is thrilled to have Gilder Lehrman joining us at this year’s conference. Be sure to visit their website as well as their space during the conference. Oh, and they are also doing what looks to be an excellent session!

The Arnold-Liebster Foundation


The Arnold-Liebster Foundation has a mission that is so important in this day and age. From their website:

The Arnold-Liebster Foundation seeks to promote peace, tolerance, human rights, and religious freedom by peaceful and nonpolitical means. Building on the Holocaust-era experiences of its founders, Max Liebster and Simone Arnold Liebster, the foundation supports historical research, teacher training, educational seminars, scholarly publications, roundtable discussions, museum exhibitions, film showings, and similar projects.

Through these activities, the foundation especially aims to help young people to repudiate racism, xenophobic nationalism, and violence, and to learn to listen to the voice of conscience.

Be sure to stop by and visit their space at the conference and see how they can play a role in helping your students understand their responsibilities in civic life and community.

And More! 

We’ll highlight additional exhibitors and sessions over the course of the next few weeks. Be sure to check this space for more! Register for the conference today! 

Learn here about the keynote!

Check out some of the sessions! and here!  and here!