Announcing a New Free Online Course Series from FJCC for New and Beginning Civics Teachers!




Friends in Civics, we have some exciting news. The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute is now offering a free online Canvas course targeting primarily new and beginning civics teachers, though it is open to any and all civics educators who are interested.

This program will provide educators new to civics with a supported professional
learning experience while teaching middle school civics. They will learn,
implement and reflect on educational best practices, engage with a cohort of
other educators and network with experienced civic education professionals.

For those teachers in Florida seeking points towards certificate renewal, this course series offers that opportunity through the ePDC (electronic Professional Development Connections) system. In the infographic below, you can see the scope and sequence of the course series.

Canvas Course JPG

Beginning in February, we will be launching the first course in the series, A Prepared Classroom. This course was piloted in early fall of 2017, and it was a successful first effort, so we are eager to share it with other teachers!

A Prepared Classroom will focus on understanding the role of course descriptions and the Civics End-of-Course Test Item Specifications, utilizing curriculum and pacing guide resources, strategically planning and preparing for instruction, as well as providing data informed instruction based on formative and summative data. You can view the syllabus for the first course here: FJCC A Prepared Classroom Syllabus (Feb 2018)

Are you more interested in the second, third , or later courses because you feel pretty good about the content in the first one? That is fine! You DO NOT have to take every course; Florida teachers may earn renewal points for EACH course in the series. We will be piloting the second course, A Cognitively Complex Classroom, in early 2018 with a small group of teachers, and will let you know when we launch it after what we hope will be a successful pilot!

Each course in the series will be offered through the free version of the Canvas platform. Canvas Free for Teacher accounts are always free, but they do not contain all features available to institutional users of Canvas. For example, no client support beyond access to the Canvas Guides is offered to you as a Free for Teachers user. With a Canvas Free for Teachers account users can access and participate in courses as well as create (and host) their own online courses. Please note that you WILL have to create a new account to use this version of the platform; it is not compatible with the institutional version you may use in your school or district. You can learn more about this version of the platform here.

In order to enroll in the course, you will need to be sure that you register through the ePDC system. Let’s walk through the process together. First, go to the PAEC website at

Once there, click on ePDC and if this is your first time, click on ePDC and then ‘Create an Account.’ Once you confirm your account registration, sign in and then click again on ePDC and select ‘Course Offerings’. You should see a screen like this:


Click on ‘Course Offerings’, and you will see something like this:


In the ‘Search Text’ bar, you can type ‘FJCC’, and the course should appear!


Click on ‘Register’ and you should be in. The ePDC course is setup to automatically direct the person that registers for the course to the Canvas Course page.  You will have to create an account if you do not already have one but the link to the February course is embedded in the ePDC PAEC course.

You can expect a follow up email or two from your course instructor in late December and in January, prior to the start of the course. At this time, registration is limited to the first 25 participants, but it may be possible to make exceptions!

How are in-service points handled?
PAEC extracts in-service records from the ePDC and submits in-service data for member and participating districts to the Florida Department of Education as a service to districts. Teachers from outside of PAEC member or participating districts should print the Certificate of Completion for each course and submit the certificate to the appropriate district professional development office.

We do hope to see you in this online space for learning and the development of a virtual professional learning community. Please share this with anyone you believe might benefit from this course series! 

Questions about this entire course series, or the first course in the series (‘A Prepared Classroom‘), can be directed to Dr. Steve Masyada or Ms. Peggy Renihan.


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.

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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

The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute has joined the Civics Renewal Network!


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You may have noticed a new logo, similiar to what is above this post, appearing on the FJCC homepage. That is a sign of some exciting news! The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship is excited to announce that our parent organization, the Lou Frey Institute, was recently welcomed as a member of the Civics Renewal Network! 


The Civics Renewal Network is a resource-sharing network made up of civics education organizations from across the country. The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute is currently in the process of curating some of our quality resources to share on the CRN website, and we look forward to sharing and posting the resources of other civics education folks across all of our platforms! We are excited to be a member of this consortium, and look forward to sharing with you some of the quality work being done across the country!

Women’s History Month: Shirley Chisholm, Trailblazer


What does it mean to be involved? How can we make a difference in the lives of those who depend on us, and in the lives of those who seek only to have a voice? Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress, asked these questions. In addition to being the first African-American woman elected to Congress, she also ran for the Democratic nomination for President in 1972.


Her ‘Unbought and Unbossed’ campaign, while unsuccessful stands as a challenge to those who would sacrifice ideals for power, and stands even now as an example for those women and African-Americans who would follow in her footsteps.

You can learn more about Congresswoman Chisholm at the National Women’s History Museum. The Smithsonian Magazine also has an excellent piece on her presidential campaign. 

PPT Slide for Shirley Chisholm

2018 Florida Council for the Social Studies Conference Call for Proposals

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The Florida Council for the Social Studies, a Gold Star Council, is pleased to announce that proposals are now requested for the 61st annual conference, to be held at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center, October 19-21, 2018. The theme of this years conference centers around the importance of diversity and inclusion within the social studies at all levels of teaching and learning. We are looking for exciting and engaging sessions that will provide teachers with something they will be able to reflect on and use in their classrooms, and we know you have a great session that you are dying to share!

You can submit your proposal here. And you can find more information about this year’s conference at the FCSS website!

We believe we have a fantastic keynote lined up that we will be able to announce soon, and look forward to providing our teachers with some excellent and exciting sessions!

If you wish to sponsor or exhibit at the conference, you can complete the form here.

Questions about sponsorship or exhibits can be directed to Dr. Steve Masyada ( or Ms. Peggy Renihan (

We hope to see you join us!

Student Civic Engagement Today


Today, around the country, students from Kindergarten through higher education are engaged in protests concerning gun violence. However one feels about the issues being debated, students assuming the rights and responsibilities of democratic citizenship  in their communities is something to celebrate. What students are doing today is consistent with our nation’s recent and not so recent  history of young people becoming engaged in their communities and learning the skills of citizenship and civic life.  Let’s consider just a few examples.

Running for Governor in Kansas

In Kansas, which has no age restriction on becoming governor, six teenagers are running for the position, and are running serious campaigns around issues. And their political persuasions run across the spectrum, a mix of conservatism, liberalism, and libertarianism.

Being engaged in the issues, aware of the rules and requirements for office, and taking action to pursue change are not inherently conservative or liberal civic virtues. These young people are engaged in civic action in their state because they saw a need and decided to try and fill it.

Birmingham Children’s March

The Birmingham Children’s March involved more than 1000 kids skipping classes all across Birmingham and marching in favor of civil rights, despite threats and violence perpetrated by people far older than them.  And they swore to continue doing it until change was on the horizon. They modeled for their fellow citizens the better angels of our nature and stood strong in the face of adult persecution and violation of their civil liberties.

Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)

‘Students do not shed their rights at the schoolhouse door.’ A legendary decision, arising as a result of 13 year olds protesting a war they saw as unjust. Indeed, the Tinker decision, and the actions of those students involved in that case, have in some ways inspired the movement today., with the Parkland students citing the Tinker case as something they learned about that helped show what can happen when students become civically engaged.

The Pro-Life/Pro-Choice Movements, Gun Rights, Student Busing, Black Lives Matter, and the ERA

Ongoing debates about controversial civic, political, and societal issues have always involved students, on both sides. Whether arguing and protesting over abortion, pointing out that there are is not uniformity among young people in the gun debate, wading knee deep into the disputes about busing students across northern cities like Boston to integrate schools, marching in the streets in defense of black lives and liberties, or taking sides for or against the Equal Rights Amendment, student civic activism is something that has always been an important pathway into civic life for young people. It is their first taste of the possibilities of civic life and fervor, and encouraging young people to engage with those possibilities can only strengthen the core of American democracy.



Women’s History Month: Elizabeth McCullough Johnson

WHM Johnson

Elizabeth McCullough Johnson is an important figure in Florida civics, government, and history. She was the second woman elected to the Florida House, and the first women ever elected to the Florida State Senate. For those of us who live and work in the central Florida area, she is also an incredibly important figure because she is in many ways the mother of our University of Central Florida, the largest (at last count, by population) public university in the country.

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You can learn more about Senator Johnson at Florida Memory.

PowerPoint Slides:
Senator Johnson of FL


Creating a Florida C3 Hub!



We here at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship are strong advocates of the C3 Framework. The emphasis on inquiry, and actually doing something with that inquiry, is civic learning at it finest, and we believe that the C3 Framework would be an excellent model to build standards and curriculum around. It seems that Florida is now making some moves towards providing teachers with an opportunity to embrace the C3.

Over the past few years, the social studies community has established a repository of Inquiry oriented lessons from various states at C3 Teachers.

c3 hubs

This website is an excellent resource with a variety of K-12 inquiry lessons that can be modified to fit Florida standards and benchmarks. But, you may ask, where is Florida? Well, for a variety of reasons, Florida has fallen behind others states in using elements of the C3 Framework (though some districts like Pasco and Brevard have begun using the language of C3 in curriculum development and pacing).

Happily, this may be about to change. Dr. Jane Lo of Florida State University and Mr. Michael DiPierro, the social studies consultant of the State Department of Education, have announced a new project and opportunity that will create a C3 Hub for Florida! From their recent call:

WHO: We are seeking K-12 Florida social studies
teachers to be involved in an exciting lesson
creation project funded through Title IV-Part A and
managed by the Florida Department of Education
and Florida State University. Florida K-12 teachers
of all social studies content areas may apply

WHAT: This project is seeking teachers with experience
writing and implementing inquiry based lessons in the social
studies classroom. Selected lesson writers will participate in
a series of virtual professional development activities and
one face-to-face professional development session on the
C3 Inquiry Design Model with experts in the field. The
professional development is intended to help writers create
two lesson plans using the Inquiry Design Model. Lesson
plans will be shared with fellow teachers on the National
Council for the Social Studies C3 hub site. Lesson writers will
be compensated for their travel, professional learning, and
approved lessons. In-service points will be available to
submit for district consideration. More information will be
provided to selected writers.

WHEN: A virtual logistics meeting will occur in May 2018. A
face-to-face PD session will be conducted in summer 2018.
The lesson writing process will take place during Fall 2018,
with continued virtual professional development and
support (approximately one check-in per month). The
expected completion date of the lessons is January 2019.
The lessons will then undergo a review process, during
which time, writers may be asked to provide revisions. The
goal is to have lessons to share with the broader social
studies teaching community by Fall 2019.

WHY: This is a great professional development opportunity
that allows teachers to work with experts to hone their
inquiry lesson writing skills as well as inquiry pedagogy. This
process will also allow us to create a Florida C3 Hub so that
Florida social studies teachers can have a reliable resource
for rigorous inquiry plans.

HOW: To apply for a writer position, please fill out this form
by March 23rd, 2018. Contact Dr. Jane Lo, Assistant
Professor, Social Studies Education, and copy, FLDOE Social Studies Education
Specialist, with any questions or concerns.

This is a great opportunity to help develop an incredible resource for Florida teachers, and we here at FJCC would love to see what you come up with for civics!



Friends, one of the most requested things that districts have asked of us when it comes to Civics360 is the ability to integrate it into Single Sign On within a district level LMS. In order for us to test this capability, we must see how the ‘live’ site works. While we do NOT expect there to be any problems at all, or expect any interruption in service with the Civics360 platform, please be aware that there MAY be periods of unavoidable downtime as we test and troubleshoot integration with Classlink. We will strive to ensure that this downtime is as limited as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

The C3 Framework, Elementary Education, and ELL Students


Many of the folks that read this blog and work in secondary civic and social studies education have considered ways in which they might incorporate the C3 Framework into the work that they do. This is no doubt just as true for elementary social studies educators (they, like Santa, DO exist you know!), and English Language Learners (ELLs) could benefit from the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) approach to inquiry and learning. Recently, our own Florida Joint Center for Citizenship director Dr. Steve Masyada coauthored, with ELL education expert Dr. Katherine Barko-Alva of William and Mary, a chapter in Optimizing Elementary Education for English Language Learners. In this chapter, they walk teachers through an extended second grade lesson around civic life, modified for ELL students and integrating all 4 Dimensions of the C3 Framework. It might be of interest to folks thinking about ways in which we can get the C3 Framework into elementary classrooms and help our ELL students, and really, all students, in embracing civic life. Check out Dimensions of Success if you are so inclined!

Interesting Upcoming Webinars


Our Curriculum Director, Val McVey, based out of our Connecticut office, passes along these upcoming webinars which may be of interest to folks in the field! The History and Memory webinar seems especially promising!

  1. Technology and Digital Media in the Social Studies Classroom”:
    Thursday, February 8, 3:30-4:30.
    Experts in the field will discuss the latest technologies and methods to use them in the classroom.  Co-sponsored by New England History Teachers Association.
  2. History and Memory”. This series explores the difference between history and memory, and explores how societies remember the past has a direct impact on the present.  This is a four part series:
    1. History, Memory and the Civil War (February 22, 3:30-4:30)
    2. Memories of World War I and World War II  (March 15, 3:30-4:30)
    3. Memories of the Vietnam War (April 5, 3:30-4:30)
    4. The Aftermath of 9/11 (May 3, 3:30-4:30)

 Any educators wishing to sign up for these webinars should contact Stephen Armstrong at


The Congressional Data Challenge from Library of Congress

An interesting competition has come out, offered by the Library of Congress, and folks with a creative, analytical, and/or technological bent might find it fun and worth a shot. The Library of Congress is looking for some interesting and unique ways to use and analyze Congressional data. Take a look!


What new insights can come from Congressional data?

A variety of Congressional publications and data sets are available on The Library of Congress (LC) invites you to leverage that data to create new meaning or tools to help members of Congress and the public explore it in new ways.

What are we looking for?

LC would like to inspire creative use of technology to analyze digital Congressional information from This could take the form of interactive visualizations, mobile or desktop applications, a website, or other digital creation.

Submission Criteria

Final submission will include a 2-minute demonstration video explaining a product, the data sources used, and its benefits. Source code is required to be published and licensed as CC0.


LC will award $5,000 for first prize and $1,000 for the best high-school project. Honorable mentions may be awarded for:

  • Best tracking of legislative status
  • Best data visualization, and
  • Best data mashup

To get you thinking, we offer a few example projects:

  • A visualization of how the legislative process works using legislative data
  • Tools that could be embedded on Congressional and public websites
  • Legislative matching service, to identify Members with similar legislative interests
  • Tools to improve accessibility of legislative data, and
  • A tool that, based on bill text, identifies Members of Congress with legislative interests that are similar to the user’s, or to the legislative interests of other Members of Congress

Solvers may want to review the winners of the Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers Data Challenge for inspiration in how innovators of all ages have looked at data in different ways.

Be sure to check out for questions and to enter! We would love to see what you do!