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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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


Facilitating Critical Conversations Workshop with Teaching Tolerance


Good afternoon, friends. In this era of increased rancor in our schools, our communities, and in our halls of government, it remains vital that we as social studies educators continue to work to create an environment that allows students to engage with their learning. But this engagement should also allow space for students to feel comfortable with critical conversations around topics of relevance and importance. We are social studies teachers, and while we might seek to ensure that our students do not have a sense of our own politics and attitudes, we do have a responsibility to ensure that our classrooms allow them to engage intelligently and honestly and fairly with current and controversial issues connected to what they are learning and what they are shaped by.

For those teachers who might be in Florida, Teaching Tolerance is hosting a Saturday workshop on February 9th on how to facilitate the kinds of conversations that truly relate to student life and learning.


This interactive workshop will help teachers explore strategies for facilitating critical conversations with students and colleagues. Participants will engage in personal reflection and examine some common beliefs and biases that can affect their ability to engage in productive conversations. They will learn strategies for creating supportive learning environments that encourage risk-taking during critical conversations. Finally, they’ll investigate methods of teaching about implicit bias, race and other critical topics.

Participants will learn to:
• Identify strategies and resources to create a positive and respectful learning environment where critical conversations can take place.
• Reflect on personal assumptions and learned biases and recognize their impact on classroom practice.
• Develop skills and confidence for engaging in and facilitating conversations about race and other critical topics.

This workshop is open only to educators. Participants may include:
• Current K–12 teachers, administrators and counselors.
• Pre-service teachers.
• Educators who teach or coach K–12 teachers, administrators and counselors.

Additional Information:
• Morning coffee, lunch, and all materials are provided.
• Check-in begins at 8:15 a.m.
• The program starts promptly at 9:00 a.m. and runs until 3:30 p.m.
• If possible, bring an electronic device (smart phone, tablet, laptop) that can access Wi-Fi.
• Space is limited. You must purchase a ticket on this website to reserve your seat!
• The registration fee covers materials and meals and must be paid by credit card. Unfortunately, we cannot process checks, purchase orders or cash payments.
• Teaching Tolerance will issue certificates of completion for participants who attend the full workshop.

Teaching Tolerance is one of the best organizations for both professional development and necessary curriculum, and we highly encourage you to check out what they offer.


You can register for the February 9th workshop here! 

Lou Frey Institute/National Center for Simulation Annual Charity Golf Tournament: Golfing for Civics!


golf 1golf 2


Are you a fan of both golf AND civic education? Personally, I know I enjoy some time on the golf course AND reading and teaching about the Constitution. Sometimes at the same time!

Seriously though, the Lou Frey Institute, in collaboration with wonderful friends from the National Center for Simulation, is excited to announce the Sixth Annual Charity Golf Tournament. This a fundraiser for both the National Center Center for Simulation and for the Lou Frey Institute, helping both organizations continue in the work that they do.

If you are interested in signing up and participating as an individual golfer, you can! Check out the schedule of events below.

sched events

Sponsorship opportunities also exist!


For questions about sponsorship or participation, please contact George Cheros of the National Center for Simulation or Steve Masyada of the Lou Frey Institute.

You can download the whole flier here! 

NCSS in Review, Part 3: A Discussion Resource


One of our favorite things to do when we have the opportunity to attend the National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference is to visit some of the poster sessions that feature the excellent work being done in social studies by teachers, pre-service educators, graduate students, and methods professors, among others. One of the more interesting and useful poster sessions I visited featured Dean Vesperman and his student colleague Deanna Grelecki of Luther College.


This poster presentation addressed one of the more difficult and always in-need areas of social studies education: discussions. Using the Civil War as a case study, the session explored five different approaches to discussion. Examples are provided and considered below.










This approach dives deep into a collaborative and listening-oriented discussion. Note how it asks students to compare interpretations and relate it to the text. The engagement with the text here is important. This moves students towards a level of critical literacy that allows them to really use and reflect on the text in collaboration with their peers.

Philosophical Chairs

phil chairs

What is powerful here is that it requires students to be able to discuss and support BOTH sides of an issue. And it moves beyond that old and sometimes problematic ‘Devil’s Advocate’ approach.

Affinity Map

affinity map

This approach engages students in the important skills of reflection, note taking, and categorizing, and it engages them with ideas that might not have occurred to them. Notice as well that students are engaging with the ideas through writing. What sort of follow up can be done after the use of the Affinity Map approach?

Asynchronous Voice


This is an interesting approach, and one that would likely engage your students incredibly well. You may wish to stick to Google Docs if you have concerns over social media with your kids, but you can certainly model the approach on a social media style? Ask the students to come up with relevant hashtags connected to the reading for example! Or limit them to Twitter’s 240 characters (which will also help them work on being able to be succinct in their points!) You will want to make sure you do go over with them how to engage with others in an online discussion.



This approach reflects the popular ‘stations’ model, and is similiar in some ways to an extended gallery walk following their individual or paired reading. I would also encourage students to engage with answers that others have written as a final step, rotating back to their final station in the process.

You can find the original lesson plan and the discussions poster at the links below. We will update this post with a version of the lesson aligned with Florida benchmarks next week.

NCSS 2018 – Civil War lessons

Discussion poster


The 2018 NCSS Conference in Review, Part 2: The Civic Action Project for Middle School


Today we take another look at an excellent and well-received session at the recent National Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference, held in Chicago last weekend.

Keeping Current With Civic Action 


Chris Spinale, FJCC Action Civics Coordinator, Discusses the Civic Action Project with a Group of Teachers

On Friday afternoon of the conference, FJCC’s Action Civics Coordinator, Chris Spinale and Curriculum Director, Val McVey presented with Gregorio Medina of the Constitutional Rights Foundation on the Civic Action Project for middle and high school students. This well attended session provided teachers with an overview of CRF’s free public policy problem solving curriculum. The Civic Action Project supports research-based practices in civic and government education. Teachers that integrate this project-based curriculum into their instruction enhance student civic knowledge, skills and dispositions by deliberately engaging them in aspects of the democratic process. If you are interested in how CAP can fit into your social studies classroom, contact Chris Spinale:


Chris Spinale of FJCC and Gregorio Medina of Constitutional Rights Foundation


The 2018 NCSS Conference in Review, Part 1: Girl Scouts!


Good afternoon, friends. The 2018 NCSS Conference is now in the books, and it was an excellent opportunity to learn, network, collaborate, plan, and grow for those passionate about social studies. Happily, civics was a significant focus of the conference (perhaps no surprise considering it was in Chicago, Illinois, which has seen a rebirth of advocacy for civic education!) Over the next couple of days, we will share some highlights of the conference that we had the opportunity to attend, or were attended by others to rave reviews.

The Girl Scouts and the C3 Framework: Journey Taking Action Projects

I had the great pleasure to attend a session that featured a wonderful group of folks. It was exciting to meet Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of the Girls Scouts, and to hear from Geraldine Stevens, the troop leader of Troop 41369 out of Des Plaines, Illinois. She spoke about how the journey projects her troop have engaged in reflected key aspects across all four dimensions of the C3 Framework. It was an exciting and interesting session, and hearing both the troop leader and her incredibly accomplished Girl Scout daughter and troop member discuss ways in which they had engaged in action civics and used the approach seen in the C3 Framework to frame and guide their projects was exciting!


Elementary Social Studies and Why It Matters

Elem Social Studies CCSSO

We know that we have issues in this country with social studies instruction, and it is especially challenging at the elementary level. Whether we are talking about the impact of assessment on instruction, the weakness of the content-based resources, or simply the loss of time devoted to and disappearance of social studies from the elementary curriculum, it has an impact that is simply not debatable. When social studies is marginalized, it robs students of the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to be effective and engaged citizens. We simply cannot expect success and engagement when many kids don’t start learning about civic life and engagement, and everything that goes into it, until well into middle school or even high school. Social studies matters. We have an obligation to ensure that it is being taught with fidelity and with passion. As Dr. Tina Heafner argued in her keynote at the Florida Council for the Social Studies’ recent conference, effective and quality social studies instruction is the right of all students. 

The Social Studies Collaborative, a working group made up of members of the Council of Chief State School Officers, has recently released an infographic, featured at the top of this post, that illustrates both the disturbing data on the marginalization of social studies AND  the positive benefits of social studies instruction that can result when we return our beloved field to the prominence it deserves.

You can download the infographic here or here: Elementary SS Brief 45

We here at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship and the Lou Frey Institute support and believe in this message completely. We need to bring social studies back to the elementary schools. We need it to ensure that our students become the best citizens they can be. And it needs to, and CAN, start in Kindergarten. FJCC even has some short civics-oriented lessons that can be done in about 15 or 20 minutes and introduce social studies and civics concepts to elementary school students at all grade levels!