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.

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Your Voice Matters: Take a Survey about Civic Education

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Friends, on behalf of Lisa Matthews and our other wonderful colleagues at the National Conference on Citizenship, we would be incredibly grateful if you would take a few minutes to complete a survey about civic education in the United States. Below, Ms. Matthews describes the purpose of and instructions for the survey. It takes just a handful of minutes; please consider letting your voice and opinions be heard on this!
 
Would you be willing to take a survey that will help a new coalition expand and improve civic education in the USA? This coalition is led by iCivics, and many leaders in the field have already joined. NCoC is part of this coalition.
 
The online survey will take less than 15 minutes to complete. It will ask you a few questions about who you are, how you personally relate to civic education, and what you think about the state of civic education today.
 
The survey will also lead you through an exercise called the “Five Whys.” You’ll be asked whether you think that we provide good enough civic education in the USA today. If you don’t think so, you’ll be asked “What is one reason that civic education is not good enough today?” You’ll suggest a reason, and then you’ll be asked why you think that reason exists. Next, you’ll be asked for a reason for that reason. This activity will continue until you have had a chance to offer a chain of five reasons.
 
This brainstorming exercise will allow a broad range of people to suggest underlying causes of unsatisfactory civic education. (Or you may argue that civic education is fine as it is.) Some people who take this survey will also be invited to take a second survey later on. The second survey will help us to organize and prioritize the causes.
 
If you wish to take the survey, this is the link:  
 
It can be taken on a computer or a smartphone.
 
The survey begins with more information about the research and requests your consent to proceed. If you are under 18 years old, you must ask a parent or guardian also to give permission by typing his or her name in the form.
 
Thanks very much for considering offering your ideas through the survey.
 

FCSS Sunday Keynote: Addressing Bias and Bullying: Creating Safe Classrooms for All Students!

 

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The Florida Council for the Social Studies annual conference is coming soon, and we are excited to announce the upcoming Sunday session and keynote!

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Addressing Bias and Bullying: Creating Safe Classrooms for All Students



Don’t miss Sunday’s Breakfast Keynote, “Addressing Bias and Bullying: Creating Safe Classrooms for All Students” with the Sikh Coalition. Satjeet Kaur will be speaking on how to use the Florida Standards and Benchmarks to address and prevent bias and bullying in the classroom. Teachers will leave the session with standards-aligned tools and strategies to foster a healthy and inclusive learning environment.

 

Boys & Girls Club/LFI Civic Action Project Showcase A Great Success!

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Last night here at UCF, the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute, in collaboration with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida After School Zone and the Constitutional Rights Foundation, presented the 1st ever Civic Action Project showcase! It was, simply put, an amazing time that featured 4 groups of students talking with community members about issues that were important to them. Check out the agenda below:
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The presentations were powerful examples of how young people can engage with an issue and work to make a change in their communities, however one wishes to define that term ‘community’.

Each group of participants selected an issue and collaborated on researching, responding to, and presenting their issue, including proposed solutions. Check out the issues below. And keep in mind that all work around the issue was done BY THE STUDENTS. Facilitators played only a support role.

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During our time together, students walked the audience through their topic. This included why they chose the topic, how the topic has impacted their lives and communities, a proposed solution or solutions, and research relating to both the topic and the solution. They followed their presentation with a question and answer session that demonstrated their grasp of the issue and their ability to engage in civil conversations. Hearing young middle school students talking about the ‘validity of the survey’s sample size’ was just amazing. Check out some images below of students engaging with the audience and responding to questions.

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Students from Robinswood Middle School respond to a student question concerning their issue of cyberbullying

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Students from Meadow Woods Middle School argue for equity in elective course offerings in Orange County Middle Schools

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Students from Wolf Lake Middle School take questions from the audience, arguing that their research shows a potential positive impact from adding a homeroom, and that their survey shows a positive response!

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Students from Hunter’s Creek powerfully and passionately argue for improved access to and information on Orange County and OCPS parks for disabled children.

One of the most important purposes of this event, and of the Constitutional Rights Foundation’s Civic Action Project is to help students understand that they CAN have an impact and that they CAN make a difference if only they can make their voice heard. How wonderful it was then that Associate Superintendent for School Choice Services, Dr. Christopher Bernier, attended the showcase and made a concerted effort to meet with each group of young and passionate people. Indeed, Dr. Bernier, who has some jurisdiction over at least a couple of the issues students raised at this event, promised the kids at Meadow Woods that he would look into the concerns that they raised. Below, he sits with students and discusses their issue. And he spent time doing the same with every group. We are grateful for his attendance and participation, because it ensured that the students felt their voices were being heard!

It was, wonderfully, a successful first year of this pilot program. We are eager to continue the conversation and the work with our friends at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida, and hopefully others, and see how we can make this even better and offer other students the opportunity to engage in the practice of civil conversations and lived civics.

One last thing. This effort could not have happened without the incredible and dedicated work of FJCC’s Action Civics Coordinator, Mr. Chris Spinale, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida’s Director of Middle School Programs, Mr. Kelvin Curry. Their dedication to this program and to the kids is incredible. So too do we owe a debt of thanks to the facilitators from each school: Mr. Tony Johnson and Ms. Valerie Hobbs (Hunter’s Creek), Ms. Saceta Valentine and Mr. Lonnie Smith (Robinswood), Ms. Terri Rawls, Ms. Chandrieka Palmer and Mr. Marcus Palmer (Wolf Lake), and Mr. Sean B. Sookdeo and Mr. Bernard D. Mitchell, Jr. (Meadow Woods). And of course the young people themselves, who did all of the work and engaged in the practice of civic life with such passion and dedication.

Florida Civics EOCA Review Resources

It’s that time of year again, where we start preparing our kids for the upcoming Civics End of Course Assessment here in Florida. So here are some decent resources from across the internet that you might find useful. Of course, we must always keep in mind that any review should begin with making sure your kids are familiar with the Civics Test Item Specifications, because it tells you, and them, exactly what they need to know.

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But let’s start our review resource tour with the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute‘s own pride and joy.

Civics360

Civics360 is a free, interactive civics review tool to help Florida students improve their understanding of civics. It provides a flexible approach to instruction and review, and features:

  • Narrated Students Friendly Videos review the important content for most benchmarks
  • Viewing guides for each video
  • Student Friendly Readings for each Benchmark Clarification, available in English, Haitian-Creole, and Spanish
  • Vocabulary activities
  • End-of-Course Assessment-style guided review questions for each benchmark
  • End-of-Course Assessment practice tests
  • Additional Civics Resources to Facilitate Learning and Review

You can sign up for Civics360 here. It’s always free, but registration IS required!

The Florida Practice Tests (ePATS)

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Here you will find a practice version of the Civics EOCA. This will give you some sense of what the assessment is like and how to use the different tools for an online version of the test, as well as what the questions are like. This is provided by the Florida Department of Public Instruction.

Florida Students Civics Tutorials

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We have written about these tutorials before, and they are the first resource I recommend for both instruction and review. They are excellent for a flipped classroom model as well. If you are planning on using them as a review resource, I recommend assigning students only the parts of the tutorials they need, and it would be more effective to perhaps set these up in learning stations across the classroom. You could require that students screen-capture or write down responses to the assessment elements in order to ensure completion and comprehension.

Florida Virtual School Resources

RRSFLVSThe recorded review sessions, available for free at the bottom of the FLVS page, do a good job covering elements of each of the four reporting categories that will be assessed on the EOC. Because they are about 2 hours long, you will want to preview each one and determine where you might want students to focus their attention. They may also provide you with a model for your own approach to classroom-based reviews. I especially appreciate how an effort is made to integrate assessment elements. Please be aware that you will need to download Blackboard Collaborate to run the videos. 

You will also want to check out the FLVS Civics EOC Practice test, which may be of use to you, though as with anything, you should decided how effective or appropriate it will be for your kids. Again, however, this shouldn’t be the first time that students are being exposed to these types and styles of items. Answers to the practice test items are available here. Note that answers are actually explained as well, which is an excellent element of review. I would suggest actually having students explain WRONG answers. If they can tell you why an answer is wrong, they should have a much easier time of figuring out why an answer might be right!

Civics EOC Boot Camp Model

We wrote about this review model before, and it may be one that you find useful as well. It worked well for Randall Middle School, and it is a positive way to mix things up a little for both you and your students. We explored this model in great detail in this post, and I encourage you to take a look and see if it is something you might like to do.

 

TEACHER WEBSITES

Civics With Mr. Kula

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Mr. Kula, social studies teacher at Westpine Middle School in Broward County, has compiled a number of quality content rich and illustrated study guides for the Civics EOC that could be useful for you. While they don’t cover every benchmark, what IS there is effective, and broken down by topic. These would be appropriate for students to use in conjunction with a written review or in small groups using an ‘expert group’ teaching model.

Mrs. Hirsch’s Civics Page

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Mrs. Hirsch, a teacher at Fruit Cove Middle School in St. John’s County, has gathered a number of excellent tools for EOC review. The EOC Content Review sheets that she has provided are well done and engaging, and definitely worth sharing with your own students:
Q1 Civics What You Need to Know

Q2 Civics What You Need to Know

Legislative Branch Content Review

Executive Branch Content Review

Judicial Branch Content Review

Civics Assessment Strategy Guide

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Here is an EXCELLENT and short powerpoint covering strategies for the EOC.

Ruckel Middle School Civics Flashcards

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Ruckel Middle School, in Okaloosa County, has developed a tool using Quizlet that provides students with flashcards for review. These might be useful as a bellringer or exit slip activity as you wrap up content this year and start to transition to in depth review.

 

These are just a few of the quality review resources that you might find beneficial. If you have any additional resources to share, please shoot me an email or leave it in the comments!

2018 National Law Related Education Conference

Free speech, in this era of ongoing partisan rancor, has never been more important. The theme of this year’s National Law Related Education Conference (a project of the American Bar Association) is, in fact, that idea of free speech. What is it, and why does it matter? As educators, especially as civic educators, these are questions, this is a theme, that matters to us. If you have the opportunity, please consider submitting a proposal to the upcoming conference. The call for proposals is below, but you can also learn more here. 

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Be sure to also check out the great resources of our partners in civic education, like the ABA, shared through the Civics Renewal Network!

20th Annual Literacy Symposium at UCF

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Dear Florida Educators,

You are invited to the 20th Annual Literacy Symposium that will take place on April 6, 2018 at the University of Central Florida, College of Education & Human Performance!

This year’s them is: Celebrate the Power of Literacy to Transform Lives—our students’ and teachers’ lives as well as our schools, families, and communities.

Learn about: effective literacy instruction for all students, how to engage the disengaged readers, the role of socio-emotional learning in literacy, strengthening vocabulary and comprehension across content areas, motivating students with quality texts, how to create a culture of literacy at schools, supporting school-wide literacy initiatives, differentiated instruction, meeting the needs of diverse learners, and digital literacies, to name a few.

To register, visit:

http://education.ucf.edu/litsymposium/proposals.cfm?id=3&pg=prop 

For more information about the event, please contact Melissa Mitchell, Event Assistant (Melissa.Mitchell@ucf.edu) or Dr. Vicky Zygouris-Coe, Event Committee Chair (vzygouri@ucf.edu).

Legal Issue: LFI/FJCC Resources and Teachers Pay Teachers

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Friends, we are sure that you are familiar with the wonderful website ‘Teachers Pay Teachers’. We here at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute are big fans of teachers offering to share their skills and creativity to a broader audience, and making some well-deserved money along the way. That being said, we have encountered a situation that we would like to bring to your attention.

Recently, we received word from a teacher that some of the resources being sold for a profit on Teachers Pay Teachers looked awfully familiar.  Upon further investigation, it has come to our attention that there are a number of teachers selling free FJCC/LFI curricular materials (lesson plans, worksheets, and assessment items, among others) on Teachers Pay Teachers. We are currently evaluating the magnitude of the issue, but we know enough to be certain that it is not isolated. In this context, it is important for us to underscore the fact that although our instructional materials bear a Lou Frey Institute copyright, it is actually the University of Central Florida that ultimately owns the intellectual property. This means that we have an ethical and legal responsibility to notify the University General Counsel’s office that our materials are being offered on “Teachers pay Teachers”. Once that is done, it will create a potential liability ranging from minor to not so minor for the teachers whose names are associated with the sale of copyrighted materials. We would note as well that a not-insignificant number of teachers are selling iCivics curricular materials as their own on Teachers Pay Teachers. The folks at iCivics, who work so hard to create quality resources as well, are likely to share our own concerns about this issue.

We would ask those teachers who have posted these resources for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers or other similiar sites withdraw these from the market immediately, before we find it necessary to involve UCF General Counsel and file an infringement notice with Teachers Pay Teachers. We would suggest the same for those folks posting iCivics resources. After April 15, we will be moving to involve UCF General Counsel on this, a step we are reluctant to take. However, we feel as though we have little choice. 

The Institute goes to great – and sometimes painful –  lengths to produce the funding that permits and sustains the distribution of free instructional materials for Florida teachers. Although the path is different, we know that iCivics does as well. If we find that we cannot control the resale market, we fear that we will have no option but to reluctantly reconsider how we approach the ways in which we provide instructional support materials. We hope to avoid this, as it would impact teachers and students across the state.

We hate that we have had to write this post and make this request, but we feel it is necessary. Our resources are intended to be freely available, and we would like to continue on that path. Thank you so much for your help on this.

You are invited to the 2018 Urban Education Leadership Summit at UCF!

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Friends, it is with great pleasure that we invite you to join educators, politicians, students, and community leaders from across Florida and beyond at the upcoming 2018 Urban Education Leadership Summit here at UCF on April 12th, 2018. The featured keynote, Dr. Pedro Noguera, was recently featured on MSNBC, discussing the teacher walkouts in West Virginia and Oklahoma, as well as the recent events around Florida schools. Check out his TED talk from 2012 to get a sense of our wonderful keynote.

Panels and discussions will focus on ways in which we as educators can drive school and student improvement in urban schools. I have no doubt that it will be an engaging, exciting, and lively series of conversations!

You can register for this event here, and if you have questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Amanda Wilkerson!

Thank you! Civics360 Videos Reach a Half-Million Views!

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The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute has spent more than a year working on the current iteration of Civics360. While less than ten benchmarks still need a video resource, we have completed and shared on Civics360 more than 60 videos across the other benchmarks (with many having multiple videos to ensure that the content is not overwhelming). Looking at the statistics today on TeacherTube (our upload platform for the videos), these videos, most of which have been up for barely a year 9 and in many cases far less than that) have hit more than a half a million views!

We are grateful for the teachers, students, and parents that have found these videos and Civics360 itself useful as a tool for learning, and we look forward to improving on what is available over the next year. We expect to have the remaining videos done in the coming months, and will then work on uploading scripts, cleaning up resources, and redoing portions of 360 and the videos based on your valuable feedback!

You can get a comprehensive overview of Civics360 by reviewing this post, and be sure to register today!

Questions, comments, suggestions, and critiques about anything concerning Civics360 can be directed to Dr. Steve Masyada, FJCC at LFI Director.

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! 

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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!