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.

Continue reading


Library of Congress Seeking a Civics Teacher-in-Residence!


From our friends at the Civic Mission of Schools comes this wonderful notice about a Library of Congress opportunity!

Calling All Civics Teachers!! The Library of Congress is seeking applications from current civics teachers for a Teacher-in-Residence position within its Learning and Innovation Office during the 2019-20 school year. The program description and application details for the position can be found at Applications are due on Monday, April 8, 2019.

This is a great opportunity to further your professional career AND make a difference on a national scale!!! We encourage you to check it out. You can find the call for applications here. 

Preparing Students for the Civics EOCA

Recently, on the Florida Civics Teachers Facebook page, a colleague asked a simple but important question: how far out do you start reviewing for the EOC? There is, of course, no one right answer to this question. Personally, I would suggest that reviewing begins as soon as instruction begins. Integrate previously learned materials into warm-ups throughout the year, to continue to reinforce what is supposed to have been learned. This can also give you a sense of what kids have retained! That being said, participants in the conversation on the Facebook page provided some interesting and potentially beneficial review approaches! This post is a means for us to share them with other folks, and if you have an approach you think folks might appreciate, please drop a comment, join the Facebook group linked above, or shoot me an email! So what did teachers suggest? Let’s take a look!

Rachel suggested that data should guide the review approach. What do student test scores suggest about what they have and have not retained, or what might need a bit more reinforcement? And if you are looking for an assessment that might help you get some data, you can use the online assessment at Civics360, or email me for a hard copy!

Joel has already started his review, and uses a spiral review as bell work, a similiar approach to what was described above. He checks what students know, and can use it as a data collection method to see what he might need to come back to!

Sharon starts her review in mid-April, but she has the great pleasure of having her kids multiple times a day, thanks to a critical thinking class, so she actually began having them play with practice questions! That’s definitely one way to approach things. One thing with practice questions that I have seen done in successful classrooms is having students actually identify the three wrong answers rather than the correct one, and explaining WHY they are wrong. If they can do that, identifying the correct answer should be cake!

Denise and Robert both give themselves about 3 weeks to review the content and course with their students. Denise described it as a boot camp approach, and that is definitely something that can work well as a means to reinforce content!

Jaclyn uses the reporting categories to review with her kids, spending a week on each category, and offering students after school tutoring around each of the 35 assessed benchmarks. She uses a study guide/ vocabulary check for each category, has the kids take the test on Civics 360 for each category, and has her kids tally strong standards with tough standards. She also pairs students up for peer coaching!

Megan does a 2 week review, with week one focused on, as she describes it, “a crash course of notes and vocabulary”, and week two serving as a one giant review game.

We know that there are lots of review approaches out there! You can find some other examples here and here. Are there approaches that you like to use?

Help Develop a New Game About the Civil Rights Movement!

Friends in civics and social studies, this came across my desk and looks to be a potentially wonderful opportunity to contribute to the development of a new resource! Take a look at the details below.  It’s only two hours of your time and includes compensation! 

WNET and CUNY’s American Social History Project are creating a new Mission US game (Mission US []) to help middle and high school teachers and students learn about the Civil Rights movement.

We’re hoping that at Teaching with Primary Sources Midwest Region you may know committed teachers in grades 7-10— particularly people of color and people in different parts of the country — who might be willing to share their ideas and experiences in teaching this history, in order to inform the development of the game and curriculum, in return for a small honorarium.

Participants will: 

  • Read a treatment document describing the proposed game ahead of time (30 min)
  • Join a 90-minute video call with 5-6 colleagues and an educational researcher from EDC and:
    • Share their goals, challenges and successes in teaching students about Civil Rights
    • React and respond to the proposed game design
  • Receive a $100 gift card as a thank you

 Interested? Let us know when you’re available by answering this survey:

If you have any questions, please email me, Jamie Kynn at

Legal Friends, Help Judge a Mock Trial!

Friends, one of the most important methods of civic learning is centered around engagement with the principles and actions of civic life. Few things approach that like a mock trial. If you are an attorney, please consider helping to judge with a mock trial competition in Dade County! nd you can even get general credits from the Florida Bar for participating! See below for more information!

@TheFlaBar & @DadeCountyBar attorneys needed to judge @MDCPSSocStudies #MockTrial competition. Please share and register. Link:…/mock-trial-judges-f…
@miamischools @floridalawed @miamisup @dadecountybarassociation


Civic Education in Florida

The new governor in Florida, Ron DeSantis, has come into office pledging a priority focus on civic education in Florida.

“We’re going to look to make sure that civics is a priority in Florida. [Corcoran] is going to be traveling the state, meeting with people, talking about what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. What other states have done to be successful,” DeSantis said.

So what IS going on with civics in Florida? In this post, we’ll address that question, and look at where civics stands in Florida as of 2019.

Florida is a National Leader

We often hear jokes about ‘Florida Man’, and how crazy Florida can be. But there is a reputation Florida has that we can be proud of: we are a national role model in civic education!

The efforts that have been by the Florida legislature, our school districts, our teachers, and our universities are a national example of how to implement a civic education model. In the words of the civic education researchers Peter Levine and Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg,

If every state enacted a policy like Florida’s–and consistently supported that legislation with funds for professional development, materials, assessment, and other interventions–America’s young people would be on course for more active and informed civic engagement throughout their adulthood as well. That means that pronounced civic deficits in Florida to date–low levels of voter turnout, membership in groups, trust, and volunteering–will begin to improve, and civil society will be stronger.

You can read more about Florida’s civic education success here, in the CivXNow Summit white paper.

The Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Education Act

Any discussion of civics in Florida begins with the Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Education Act. Passed in 2010, this Act required the creation and implementation of a civics course in middle school. This course includes an end-of-course exam that counts as 30% of a student’s final grade, as well as for school grade and teacher evaluation. In addition, in order to go on to high school, students MUST pass civics. So since at least 2013, as civics was implemented, Florida has had a strong civic education initiative. Every middle school student in the state of Florida MUST pass civics.

What Is Required? 

The middle school civics course in Florida contains 40 benchmarks, 35 of which are directly assessed on the End of Course Assessment. The standards are traditionally organized into 4 reporting categories:

  • Origins and Purposes of Law and Government
  • Roles, Rights, and Responsibilities of Citizens
  • Government Policies and Political Processes
  • Organization and Function of Government

You can further break these down into 9 topic areas that cover a wide variety of civics content and benchmarks:
360 areas

So, what is covered in these benchmarks? Essentially, the benchmarks address the comprehensive knowledge that students need to be engaged with civic life in the United States, from the workings of the US Constitution to the role of political parties in the United States and everything in between! You can review each of the benchmarks below, organized by reporting category. Click on the link to go to Florida Joint Center for Citizenship resources for each one!

Origins and Purposes of Law and Government

Reporting Category One

Benchmark Resources Description
SS.7.C.1.1 Recognize how Enlightenment ideas including Montesquieu’s view of separation of power and John Locke’s theories related to natural law and how Locke’s social contract influenced the Founding Fathers.
SS.7.C.1.2 Trace the impact that the Magna Carta, English Bill of Rights, Mayflower Compact, and Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” had on colonists’ views of government.
SS.7.C.1.3 Describe how English policies and responses to colonial concerns led to the writing of the Declaration of Independence.
SS.7.C.1.4 Analyze the ideas (natural rights, role of the government) and complaints set forth in the Declaration of Independence.
SS.7.C.1.5 Identify how the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation led to the writing of the Constitution.
SS.7.C.1.6 Interpret the intentions of the Preamble of the Constitution.
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.1.8 Explain the viewpoints of the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists regarding the ratification of the Constitution and inclusion of a bill of rights.
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.3.10 Identify sources and types (civil, criminal, constitutional, military) of law.

Roles, Rights, and Responsibilities of Citizens

Reporting Category Two

Benchmark Resources Description
SS.7.C.2.1 Define the term “citizen,” and identify legal means of becoming a United States citizen.
SS.7.C.2.2 Evaluate the obligations citizens have to obey laws, pay taxes, defend the nation, and serve on juries.
Also Assesses: SS.7.C.2.3—Experience the responsibilities of citizens at the local, state, or federal levels.
Also Assesses: SS.7.C.2.14—Conduct a service project to further the public good.
SS.7.C.2.4 Evaluate rights contained in the Bill of Rights and other amendments to the Constitution.
SS.7.C.2.5 Distinguish how the Constitution safeguards and limits individual rights.
SS.7.C.3.6 Evaluate Constitutional rights and their impact on individuals and society.
SS.7.C.3.7 Analyze the impact of the 13th, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th, and 26th amendments on participation of minority groups in the American political process.
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.

Government Policies and Political Processes

Reporting Category Three

Benchmark Resources Description
SS.7.C.2.8 Identify America’s current political parties, and illustrate their ideas about government.
SS.7.C.2.9 Evaluate candidates for political office by analyzing their qualifications, experience, issue-based platforms, debates, and political ads.
Also Assesses: SS.7.C.2.7—Conduct a mock election to demonstrate the voting process and its impact on a school, community, or local level.
SS.7.C.2.10 Examine the impact of media, individuals, and interest groups on monitoring and influencing government.
SS.7.C.2.11 Analyze media and political communications (bias, symbolism, propaganda).
SS.7.C.2.12 Develop a plan to resolve a state or local problem by researching public policy alternatives, identifying appropriate government agencies to address the issue, and determining a course of action.
SS.7.C.2.13 Examine multiple perspectives on public and current issues.
SS.7.C.4.1 Differentiate concepts related to United States domestic and foreign policy.
SS.7.C.4.2 Recognize government and citizen participation in international organizations.
SS.7.C.4.3 Describe examples of how the United States has dealt with international conflicts.

Organization and Function of Government

Reporting Category Four

Benchmark Resources Description
SS.7.C.3.1 Compare different forms of government (direct democracy, representative democracy, socialism, communism, monarchy, oligarchy, autocracy).
SS.7.C.3.2 Compare parliamentary, federal, confederal, and unitary systems of government.
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.3.4 Identify the relationship and division of powers between the federal government and state governments.
SS.7.C.3.5 Explain the Constitutional amendment process.
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.
SS.7.C.3.13 Compare the constitutions of the United States and Florida.
SS.7.C.3.14 Differentiate between local, state, and federal governments’ obligations and services.

Each benchmark is further broken down into individual benchmark clarifications that tell stakeholders what they are expected to know. You can get a copy of these clarifications here, provided in the Test Item Specifications.

What Does the Data Say? 

Good news on the data front when it comes to civics! As of the 2018 Civics EOCA administration, 71% of all students that took the exam scored a 3, 4, or 5. What this means is that 71% of all students passed the Civics End Of Course Assessment. This is 10 percentage points higher than the initial administration from 2014! As the charts below (from the Florida Department of Education) indicate, we are also seeing some positive growth among minority students as well. This is a trend that we hope to see continue, as FJCC, FLREA, and other organizations continue to work hard to provide resources and support for teachers and students.





So What Needs to Improve? 

Without a doubt, Florida has seen significant positive results from the implementation of civic education at the middle school level. At this point, as a state, we are doing well with the knowledge aspect. But there is certainly room for improvement. At FJCC, we have been working to build a collection of resources and supports that address the skills and dispositions that can be used in conjunction with the knowledge that students have gained. You know how government works, and the role the Constitution plays in your life. So what can you do with that knowledge? We are working with organizations like the Civics Renewal Network, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Florida, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, and others to improve opportunities for engagement.


We also need to do far more in elementary schools. That, however, is a bit of a sticky wicket, as social studies as a whole has struggled for attention in elementary schools; the pressure of preparing students for math, ELA, and science assessments has often crowded out untested content areas like social studies, both here and Florida and nationally.

Elem Social Studies CCSSO

That beings said, there ARE some good resources out there, like FJCC’s own Civics in a Snap. Civics in a Snap is a collection of K-5 lessons around civics content and questions that can be done in an elementary class in about 15 to 20 minutes. Take a look!


We are also thinking about ways in which we can do more at the high school level to engage students in experiential learning around civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions.


Moving Forward

We at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute at the University of Central Florida applaud the governor’s call for a prioritization of civic education. We hope that it includes an in depth consideration of ways in which we get students to engage in civic life at all levels, and a renewed focus on getting social studies back into the elementary schools. And the continued leadership that Florida has shown in quality civics teaching and learning!

And be sure to check out Civics360 to find videos and readings related to the civics content that kids here in Florida need to learn! It’s all free!



The Lou Frey Institute is Looking for a New Executive Director

Dr. Doug Dobson, our incredible Executive Director, is moving into a well deserved retirement. He has long been an advocate for K-12 civic education, and has provided a vision for the Lou Frey Institute that continues to influence the work we do at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship. His leadership on civic education policy and research is well known within our little civic education community. And now, we are seeking someone to fill his shoes. Come, and make a difference in civic education. Check out the job ad here. 

The Lou Frey Institute is situated in the Political Science department in UCF’s College of Sciences and promotes the development of enlightened, responsible, and actively engaged citizens. Over the past decade, the Institute has developed an extensive portfolio of successful work in civic education and engagement that includes policy analysis and development, the provision of instructional support for teachers in Florida and other states, the provision of civic learning support tools for students, research and data analysis to support continuous improvement of student achievement in civics and support for communities seeking to enhance citizen engagement. Through various online platforms, the Institute currently provides support to about 7,000 teachers and over 100,000 students each school year. The significance of the Institute’s work has been recognized nationally. More information about the Lou Frey Institute is available at

Building on the current record of accomplishment, the Executive Director, in collaboration with Institute staff, will provide vision and leadership to shape and strengthen existing programs and to develop new initiatives that fulfill the Institute’s mission. The successful candidate will also work with partners across the university, in the state, and throughout the country to continue to expand the scale and scope of the Institute’s impact. To accomplish these broad objectives, the Executive Director will also provide leadership in external funding from both public and private sources.

Applicants must have (1) a terminal degree from an accredited institution; (2) demonstrated knowledge of current issues and literature related to civic learning, assessment, and engagement, or in a related field; (3) strong leadership and managerial experience in organizations and program development; (4) a record of relevant scholarship and/or writing in their professional practice; and (5) demonstrated success in external funding from public and/or private sources.

In addition, experience in an academic setting, experience in applied empirical research and evaluation, and experience with distance learning, educational technologies, and working with public officials is strongly preferred.

UCF requires all applications and supporting documents to be submitted electronically through the Human Resources website, In addition to the online application, interested candidates must upload the following: 1) a cover letter that includes a statement of interest; 2) a current CV; 3) a vision statement; and 4) the names and contact information for three references.  

The application deadline is March 29th, 2019. Please direct all questions to Dr. Tosha Dupras, search committee chair, at

Take a Survey on Disciplinary Literacy in Middle and High School!

Friends in civics and social studies, disciplinary literacy is increasingly a significant element of instruction within our field. This new era of literacy, which moves us beyond the traditional Content Area Reading, is one that promises to better prepare our students for the rigors of academic language and a deeper understanding of the content.

In pursuit of understanding how we as educators approach disciplinary literacy in our classrooms, and what kind of support is needed, there is short but rich survey that you can take to contribute to understanding what exists and what needs to exist. Dr. Phil Wilder of (national champion) Clemson and Dr. Kristine Pytash of Kent State would love the assistance of middle and high school teachers in completing their survey and helping us grow as a profession. Please take a look at their request below. This is something that can have a huge impact in exchange for just a few minutes of your time:

Calling all middle and high school teachers!  Teacher expertise about how to best support the literacy of students in content areas is seldom consulted. For research to best support your teaching and students, we desire to understand your perspective.  No identifying information will be collected and the survey only takes approximately 10 minutes. Please click here to complete the survey.  If you would like additional information about this study, please contact or  Thank you for considering.


International Society for the Social Studies Annual Conference!


The International Society for Social Studies Annual Conference is coming soon, but there is still time to submit your proposal (but get it in SOON)! This two day conference will take place on the campus of the University of Central Florida on 21 and 22 February, 2019. Your humble bloghost has both presented at and attended sessions at this conference in the past (and will be presenting again this year!), and it is an excellent networking opportunity for both K-12 educators and those folks in the social studies teacher education field as well as national and international policy. Learn about social studies in this country and beyond our borders from experts that represent a huge cross section of social studies education.

With scholarly presentations and practical teaching workshops on various social studies related topics from prominent experts, the ISSS conference provides a platform for all educators to engage in rich dialogue about the social studies. For university faculty, teacher educators, curriculum specialists, social studies department leaders, undergraduate and graduate students, as well as P-12 teachers, the conference features presentations that appeal to all. The ISSS conference has featured speakers from across the United States as well as across the world including Turkey, Portugal, Canada, India, Malaysia, Australia, Thailand, South Korea, China, Nigeria, and a host of other countries.

You can register for the conference here, and again, submit your proposal as soon as you can. Share your work and ideas with passionate social studies educators from across the country and the world!

If there you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact the great folks over at the society at 

Profiles in Courage Awards! Share the News!

jfk library foundation ad inthe washington post - january 7 2018

Friends, now more than ever, we need courage in civic and political life. And so many years ago, President Kennedy shared with is some Profiles in Courage. It is time, friends, to see more profiles, see more courage. Do you know anyone in civic or political life that deserves recognition for their courage?

One of the programs the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation recently launched is their online efforts to promote the bipartisan call for nominations for the 2019 Profile in Courage Award, which honors elected officials of both parties who take a stand for the greater good, despite the consequences. Political courage couldn’t be more important today. Here is further information on this award. . Can you help them make this happen through your own social media? Your participation and active posting will help more people take the time to think about what political courage means today and may lead them to discovering the next honoree.

Please see below for click-to-tweet options. When you click the link you can still edit the text. Make it fit your unique voice.  They are seeking nominations through January 30, 2019.

Option 1:

Nominations for the @JFKLibrary’s 2019 Profile in Courage Award are open: Join me by nominating an elected leader—at any level of government–to be the recipient. It takes only a few minutes! Here’s the link:

Click here to tweet the above.

Option 2:

What does courage look like in your community? Join me in nominating an elected official for @JFKLibrary Foundation’s 2019 #ProfileInCourage award now. It takes just a minute:

Click here to tweet the above.

Option 3:

What defines courage? For me, it’s someone willing to do something they deem for the greater good without thinking about the penalties. It’s somebody who is not worried about losing a reelection or disappointing their base. What’s your definition? Nominate an elected leader who fits it.

Click here to tweet the above.

Retweet Option 1

Retweet Option 2

Register Now to Attend the 2019 SOURCES Conference at UCF! It’s Free!

sources 2019

Friends, as a reminder, the 2019 SOURCES conference here at UCF is coming soon. This conference, hosted by UCF’s own Dr. Scott Waring and featuring support and resources from the Library of Congress, provides participants with pedagogy and resources around the use of primary sources and literature in the classroom. Folks from FJCC have both attended and presented before, and this year’s keynote is provided by the always excellent and engaging friend of FJCC and the Lou Frey Institute, iCivics’ own Dr. Emma Humphries. You can register for the conference here!

Don’t forget to register for SOURCES 2019!

SOURCES Annual Conference

University of Central Florida
Orlando, Florida

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Here is a quick overview of the sessions:

Dr. Emma Humphries, of iCivics, will provide the Keynote Presentation, DBQuest: New Topic Modules, New PD, Same Effective Digital Tool.  In this session, she will showcase access and functionality of the iCivics’ digital primary source analysis tool DBQuest, featuring the two NEW topic modules recently released on the Constitution and the Louisiana Purchase.  She will provide information about new (and free) professional development opportunities and on-demand resources.

Additional session titles include the following:

  • Engaging Students in History Through Historical Fiction Paired With Primary Sources
  • Teaching the Arab-Israeli Conflict with Primary Sources
  • Teaching African American History and the Ongoing Struggle for Civil Rights
  • Who is to Blame for the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008?
  • Seeking the Seminole Indians
  • Portraits: Observe, Inquire and Infer -An Arts Integration Strategy
  • Infuse C-SPAN’s Video-Based Materials in Your Curriculum
  • Strategies for Successful Socratic Seminars
  • Yellow Roses, Sashes and Signs:  Voices of the Women’s Suffrage Movement
  • Deep Dive Docs to Develop Disciplinary Literacy
  • Engaging Students in the Past in Order to Prepare Citizens of the Future
  • Hollywood or History?  An Inquiry-Based Strategy for Using Film and Primary Sources to Teach United States History
  • Using Primary Sources as Bellringers
  •    Primary Sources and Poetry
  • Durable Learning Routines to Analyze Primary Sources
  • Engaging Young Children in an Exploration of Inquiry-Based Primary Source Instruction with KidCitizen
  • The Fort Sumter Crisis: Options and Decisions
  • The Recollections of Belle Butler and A Birthday Cake for George Washington
  • Chronicling America With Voyant Text Mining Software
  • The 14th Colony: The American Revolution’s Best Kept Secret
  •         Bimetallism Isn’t a Metallica Album: U.S. History Standards and Economics
  • History of the Microscope and Microscopic Images: Engaging High School Biology Students Using Primary Sources
  • Revealing Perspectives, Reforming through Activism
  • Driving Into Jim Crow

Registration is always free!

All sessions will be located in the Teaching Academy at UCF.  You can get directions to the campus at the following address:  Printable campus maps are available at the following address:  You may park in Parking Garage A (PGA) or I (PGI).  There is no need to pay, as tickets are not assessed on weekends, so parking is free, too!  Registration will begin at 8:30 am on Saturday, January 19, 2019 in the lobby of the Teaching Academy.  Come early, as refreshments will be served in the morning, as well as for a mid-afternoon break.

If you have any questions, concerns, etc., please do not hesitate to contact us at