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.
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.
The Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Education Act
Any discussion of civics in Florida, and its success, 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:
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! It should be noted that the state has adopted new benchmarks as of July 14th, effective for 2023-2024. But this is what they are right now.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Good news on the data front when it comes to civics! As of the 2019 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 FJCCand 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.
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.
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!
It’s conference time again! The Florida Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference is now open for submitting proposals, and it would be a great opportunity to get your name out there and in there? Were you planning on presenting at the National Council for the Social Studies Conference in DC this winter? Sadly, that was cancelled. (and your humble bloghost had his session cancelled 😦 ).
But the FCSS Fall Conference here in sunny Orlando is still on! So consider presenting here and sharing your ideas with Florida teachers, pre-service folks, and university colleagues. We would love to have you, and we encourage you to submit your proposals soon. We need good folks like you to share, connect, grow, and learn!
Are you looking to collaborate, communicate, and connect with social studies education colleagues and professionals from across the state of Florida? Then please consider presenting, and of course attending, the upcoming FCSS annual conference!
You can expect a great many excellent vendors and some engaging and enlightening sessions (including from your friends here at the Lou Frey Institute/Florida Joint Center for Citizenship!).
You will find links to submit a proposal, register, or sign up as a exhibitor (why not all three!) below.
This course series provides educators with online, self-paced, professional learning that develops the knowledge and skills necessary to help students achieve their roles as participants in civic life. Each course will take approximately five hours to complete. While it is recommended that participants complete the courses in order, it is NOT required.
The awarding of a certificate for each course in this series is based on successful completion of the pre and post tests, module quizzes, post course survey and a passing final grade in the course. Certificates are emailed by staff of the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute within two weeks of course completion.
A Prepared Classroom provides teachers with an understanding of:
Course descriptions and the Civics End-of-Course Test Item Specifications,
How to utilize curriculum and pacing guides,
The value of strategic planning and preparing for instruction, and
Making informed decisions about instruction based on formative and summative data.
Today’s students know civics is all around them, but being an informed citizen and learning how the government interacts with “We the People ” takes work. Civics360 provides FREE comprehensive, interactive resources designed to enhance students’ civic knowledge and skills.
Civics360 targets the civic knowledge and skills necessary to succeed on Florida’s Civics End of Course Assessment. The resource is used by more than 250,000 students across the state of Florida and thousands more outside of the state. Over the past couple of years, many districts and teachers have asked if we have the materials ina hard copy format for their students. Well, ask and ye shall receive!
The new Civics360 digital and hard copy textbook review tool can help Florida students improve their understanding of how citizens interact with the government and vice versa. While Civics360 is crafted for Florida students, these resources cover civics and government content that is at the core of courses taught in all fifty states.
The Civics360 reader and workbook provide resources for 5-12 civic education around 9 topic areas:
The Civics360 Reader contains scripts for every video on the free Civics360 website, as well as content readings in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole, written at a 7th grade reading level.
The partner workbook has English-language guides for each reading, viewing guides for each associated video on Civics360 (and can be used in conjunction with the scripts contained in the Reader) and vocabulary practice.
Printed Workbooks and Readers
Product Availability and Pricing
The printed Workbook and Reader are 8.5 x 11. Please note that Xanedu can create custom versions of this resource for you as well!
Contact Xanedu now for pricing or with questions at 800-218-5971 ext. 6623 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If interested, you can also download a free sample of the textbook that includes content from both the workbook and reader!
You are likely aware of the ongoing revision of Florida’s K-12 civics benchmarks. The state has now reopened the opportunity to give feedback. It is important that honest feedback based on experience and expertise is provided. We here at the Lou Frey Institute would be grateful if you would take a look at these revised benchmarks and provide the feedback as requested. There HAVE been changes to the benchmarks since the last draft. You can find the revised standards here, and provide feedback here. Feedback is being accepted until June 10th, 2021. You can also see the first iteration of the revisions as compared to this revised draft here (and thanks to our friends at FASSS for putting this together!) PLEASE PROVIDE FEEDBACK!
Good afternoon, friends in civics! We are excited to share with you this exciting opportunity!
The Center for Civic Education and the Alabama Center for Law and Civic Education present a unique opportunity for upper elementary middle school and high school teachers to take part in professional development featuring We the People: Project Citizen, one of the country’s foremost civic education programs.
The Project Citizen Research Program uses Project Citizen curricular materials as the primary base of instruction. The materials are designed to foster active participation in a process-oriented curriculum that allows students to use interdisciplinary skills to monitor and influence public policy in their communities to solve real-life issues. Each participant receives a classroom set of Project Citizen textbooks as well as additional materials on public policy. This Professional Development Institute is funded by the Center for Civic Education through a grant from the U. S. Department of Education and presented by the Alabama Center for Law and Civic Education.
This is a great opportunity to grow and learn around best practices in civics education, and has some significant benefits.
Do you have questions about the program? Please email our dear friend, and passionate supporter of civic education, Jackie Viana! Or reach out to us and we will connect you.
You can access the application and teacher agreements below!
From our dear friend Mary Ellen Daneels with Illinois Civics:
Civics is all around us. There is a lot to know about the government and how “We the People” interact with the government and each other. Programming at the Lou Frey Institute (LFI) is designed to help the youngest members of our communities expand their civic literacy.
LFI has developed in partnership with the Illinois Civics Hub, the Guardians of Democracy Program is an online professional development program with extended learning opportunities for interested 6-12 educators. Dr. Shakeba Shields, an instructional coach at Orange County Public Schools has participated in the pilot program. She recently helped 7th-grade students in a Civics course at a Title 1 school explore the essential question, “Are schools doing enough to curb crime in the community?” This endeavor allowed students to apply their civic knowledge and skills, aligned to Florida’s Civics End of Course Assessment, to help make, “a more perfect union.”
We asked Dr. Shields to explain a bit more about this experiential learning that encouraged the development of civic and political skills. Here are her responses to the questions we posed.
How did this activity deepen students’ disciplinary content knowledge and/or meet learning targets?
This project helped to deepen students’ understanding of the second amendment. Students were able to evaluate the pros and cons of gun control and consider how schools can help with ensuring students are safe in their communities.
How did this project deepen students’ knowledge of themselves and their community?
Students completed Harvard University’s Implicit Bias test on weapons and gained some insight into their own biases regarding who and what poses danger. They were to carefully classify items as weapons or harmless immediately after seeing a Black or Whiteface. The students were surprised to learn that as with many other respondents, they too have some hidden views of Blacks having weapons. In our discussion of our topic students drew attention to several issues in the community that contributes to crimes. These include poverty, lack of access, insufficient lighting, deplorable buildings, and family attitudes.
What comes next? What did students identify as future opportunities to address this issue?
The students created a survey with possible solutions to address the issue such as starting new clubs on campus and increasing security at school and police presence in the community. However, the most glaring response involved bullying. Students believed that school leaders had a major role to play in curbing community crime by focusing on students who are being bullied. This is due to the fact that many off-campus fights occur due to on-campus and online bullying. Almost 90% of the 129 respondents agreed that the schools needed to pay more attention to this issue and these students.
Did you receive any feedback from your community on this project?
“This shows us that our kids actually have solutions and are able to lead.” Administrator
“What a heavy topic? I’m glad to see that they handled it so well.” Teacher
“I like coming up with these ideas. It makes me feel important.” Student
What advice would you give teachers thinking about opportunities for engaging their students in applying knowledge and skills to better their community?
My advice to other teachers would be to start small and include the students in EVERY step of the process. You will be surprised how interested they are in being a part of these types of projects.
Thank you to Dr. Shields for taking the time to talk with us! You can learn more about the free Guardians of Democracy professional development program here!
Good afternoon, friends. On Tuesday, April 20th at 5pm, the Lou Frey Institute will be co-hosting with the Florida Association of Social Studies Supervisors and the Florida Council for the Social Studies an informational session about the revised K-12 Civics Standards and Benchmarks. Please note that this session is intended to give a broad overview of the changes to the benchmarks in order to address some of the questions we have gotten. It does NOT represent the Florida Department of Education and it is likely that most questions may be best answered by the standards folks there. While we will collect feedback and comments, we are limited in how we may respond.Again, this is intended to be an informational session about the K-12 Civics benchmarks revisions.