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.

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

Upcoming SOURCES Conference at UCF

Friends, we are happy to share the good news of an upcoming conference held here at UCF. This is an annual event, and always has rich and engaging sessions led by experts and practitioners. I have had the great pleasure of knowing Dr. Heafner and her work, and I know the keynote will be excellent. Take a look at the post below, and be sure to visit the main SOURCES conference page for more information.


The Teaching with Primary Sources Program at the University of Central Florida (TPS-UCF) will be hosting the fourth annual SOURCES Conference at the University of Central Florida on Saturday, January 27, 2018.  The SOURCES Annual Conference is a free opportunity available to any educators interested in the utilization and integration of primary sources into K-12 teaching.  Presenters will focus on providing strategies for using primary sources to help K-12 students engage in learning, develop critical thinking skills, and build content knowledge.
Dr. Tina Heafner of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte and current Vice-President of the National Council for the Social Studies will provide the Keynote Presentation, To Relish the Story: Reading and Writing with Primary Sources.  In this session, Dr. Heafner will focus on the ways in which stories invite students into the content of primary sources and can generate a natural curiosity for reading and be leveraged as a framework for writing.
Additional session titles include the following:
  • Patriotism Through the American Flag as a Primary Source
  • Eagle Eye Citizen: Exploring Civics, History, and Primary Sources
  • Life Matters: A View of Child Labor in Mississippi
  • Using Local Crime and Delinquency as a Teaching Tool
  • Teaching English Learners Using Primary Sources
  • Hollywood or History? An Inquiry-Based Strategy for Using Film to Teach about Primary Sources at the Elementary Level
  • Strategies for Successful Socratic Seminars
  • The Experiment Called The Constitution
  • Teaching African American History and the Ongoing Struggle for Civil Rights
  • Benjamin Franklin: Sourcing the Legacy
  • Using Photographs in Elementary Social Studies: Strategies that Promote Perspective Recognition
  • Through the Eyes of the Observers: Social Studies Teacher Candidates Analyzing Primary Sources
  • Using LOC Classroom-Ready Lesson Plans to Develop AP Readiness
  • Contextualizing Equality: Founding Fathers and Founding Principles
  • Visual Literacy: Analyzing Images
  • Back to the Future: Investigating the Impact of Military Attacks on American Soil and the Reaction of American Citizens
  • Perspective Comparison Study Lesson on Slave Narratives in the North and South
  • Information Literacy
  • Teaching the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Peace Process
  • The Loyal Japanese-Americans at Manzanar: Using Dorothea Lange’s and Ansel Adams’s Photography to Teach About Intolerance
  • Cherry Picking the Truth About George Washington: Good Manners, Bad Teeth, & A Powdered Ponytail
  • Interrogating Immigration: Using the Past to Investigate the Present
  • DBQuest 2.0: iCivics’ Hot New DBQ Tool
  • Teaching Folk & Popular Culture: Enriching World Cultural & AP Human Geography Courses with Classroom-Ready Lesson Plans
  • Teaching World History with Primary Sources
Registration is free and is open for the SOURCES Annual Conference.  Register now:

A Free Discussion Model PD Opportunity for Social Studies and ELA Teachers in Florida, California, and North Carolina

Friends, for the past couple of years, FJCC has partnered with the Constitutional Rights Foundation USA on a variety of projects. This includes a Gates-funded effort around peer-lead professional development concerning academic discussion models. These models offer a great deal of opportunity for rich and engaging discussion among students. Apparently, students might not even realize it is time for lunch as the tweet from one of the cohort participants suggests (and Jennifer Casey is a teacher worth following if you use that platform)!

jen casey

In the space below, we are sharing with you the recent post from CRF that announces the creation of an entirely online cohort/PLC of teachers seeking new paths towards discussion. It really is worth the effort. Please note too that our friends in Osecola, Duval, Brevard, and Central Florida are still welcome to join the mixed-modes cohort that include a couple of brief face to face sessions as well as the online portions, facilitated by personnel from the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship. 

If you are in Florida, this is also open to science teachers as well as social studies and ELA folks! 


A Spring 2018 Professional Development Opportunity for You!

T2T Collab: Led by Teachers for Teachers

Join this national network of teachers who are becoming experts at using academic discussion to increase student learning.

Free online PD and lessons focused on discussion strategies for middle and high school!

1. Watch recorded webinars, or join live.
2. Try out discussion strategies with one class of students.
3. Participate in online reflection activities about the discussion strategies.
That’s it!

Social Studies and ELA Teachers in California, Florida, and North Carolina can earn a $150 stipend.

Everyone else will be put in a drawing to win one of ten $150 stipends.

Register now:

If you have questions about the grant, you can email us and we will ensure we get them addressed ASAP.

Consider Supporting the Civics Work of the Lou Frey Institute on #GivingTuesday!

Thanks for clicking! Well, if you are reading this post, you are interested in the work of the Lou Frey Institute and wondering how you might be able to help. On this #GivingTuesday, please consider donating to the Lou Frey Institute so that we can continue our work in civic education. So who are we, and why should you consider donating to our efforts?

LFI Graphic1

The Lou Frey Institute is housed at the University of Central Florida. As you can probably surmise from the infographic above, the Institute serves as the umbrella organization for a number of civics-oriented projects with both state and national reach.

Florida Joint Center for Citizenship

The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship (FJCC) is a partnership between the Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida and the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida. The FJCC provides FREE online resources for students and teachers in the following areas:

Professional Development: focus on classroom teachers at all experience levels covering virtually any content area or pedagogy relevant to K-12 civics.

Elementary School: 15-20 Minute Lesson plans for all K-5 NGSSS civics benchmarks, aligned with relevant ELA Florida Standards

Middle School: 7th Grade Civics instructional support materials focused on Florida Standards and Florida EoC preparation including online assessment practice

High School: Video lessons that engages former members of Congress to help high school students understand Congress

To access FJCC materials please visit

Civics 360

Civics360 is an interactive civics review tool to help Florida students improve their understanding of civics. This resource was create in partnership with Escambia County School District, and targets the civic knowledge and skills necessary to succeed not only on Florida’s Civics End of Course Assessment, but as knowledgeable and engaged citizens.

Resources available on Civics360 include student friendly animated videos around specific content areas, related readings (in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole) written at a 7th grade level, assessment practice, and vocabulary tools, among others.

To access Civics360 materials please visit

The Partnership for Civic Learning

The Partnership is composed of school district curriculum specialists selected by the Florida Association of Social Studies Supervisors, assessment and curriculum specialists from the Florida Department of Education, and educational research faculty from the University of Florida, Florida State University, the University of South Florida, the University of Central Florida and Tufts University. The Partnership is open to others in interest and expertise in civic education.

The Partnership’s mission is to conduct research, development and program evaluations to support data-driven continuous improvement process in civic education.

The PCL’s research and development priorities are developed and approved on an annual basis by the membership. The scope of the Partnership’s work may include, but is not limited to, monitoring and studying outcomes of statewide civics testing, the development and testing the effectiveness of K-12 civics curricular materials, testing instructional pedagogies and understanding the effectiveness of professional development. The PCL provides a continuing assessment of factors affecting the implementation of Florida’s Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Civics Education Act and may provide technical assistance to districts upon request to support successful implementation of the Act.

You can learn more about the partnership by visiting

Florida’s Civic Health Index

Participation in civic life is at the heart of democratic governance and vibrant, healthy communities. This site is your tool to monitor civic participation in not just Florida and its communities, but other states as well. To help you better understand civic health, the site allows you to compare across states and cities across the nation. Our goal is to support your efforts to improve both Florida’s civic health and that of the nation.

Data provided on this site are from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of about 60,000 households conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The CPS annually administers three supplement surveys related to civic engagement and civic health; the Voting Supplement, Volunteering Supplement, and Civic Engagement Supplement. The supplements gather data on the civic activities of individuals age 18 and over and on the volunteering activities of individuals age 16 and older.

Civic activities reported here include membership in civic organizations, donating to charitable organizations, boycotting or buying a product for social/political reasons, attending public meetings, contacting public officials, working with neighbors to fix a community problem and volunteering. Data from the Voting Supplement shows the percentage of individuals who voted in the last election and the percentage of individuals who did not vote, but were registered to vote.

To take a look at the civic health of your state and community, visit the site at

So that is just a taste of what we do. We hope to be able to continue our work both in Florida and nationally, and your tax-deductible donation can help us in our efforts. Thank you for considering us as a possibility on this #GivingTuesday, and for being an engaged and active citizen!


An Important Update on FJCC’s Civics360 Resource



The benchmark pages on the Escambia Civics Review Site will be redirected to Civics360.  This changeover will occur around the Thanksgiving break. This will impact your favorites and bookmarks if you have saved Escambia Civics Review Site benchmark pages in your browser. 

Good afternoon, friends. As you are likely aware, the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute launched Civics360 around summer of this year. Civics360 is intended to build on the resources that were provided by the Escambia County Civics Review site, and the response has been tremendous. More than 35,000 student accounts, and thousands of teacher accounts, have been made in Florida and beyond, and we continue to add resources. The following topic areas have been completed in their entirety, meaning that all video, reading, and vocabulary tools are done:

  • Citizen You
  • Florida State and Local Government
  • The Legal System
  • The US and the World

Other topic areas are partially complete, and we have about 13 benchmarks left to complete (for example, I am working on the video(s) for Benchmark SS.7.C.3.3 now!). We have also started compiling the scripts for hard of hearing students and are uploading them as we finish them. Once that all is complete, we will go back and tweak and modify and improve the resources we have. Thank you for all of your input and feedback on Civics360, and remember that you can direct questions to Dr. Steve Masyada, FJCC director.

It is also important that everyone is aware that the benchmark pages on the Escambia Civics Review Site will be redirected to Civics360.  This changeover will occur around the Thanksgiving break. This will impact your favorites and bookmarks if you have saved Escambia Civics Review Site benchmark pages in your browser. 

If you have not yet done so, I encourage you to make sure you register yourself, and have your students register, at Civics360. It is always free and it is easy. 

Thank you for your help and support for the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship! 

Constitutional Rights Foundation Upcoming Webinar Around Civil Conversations!


Friends, we have been asked by the Constitutional Rights Foundation USA to share the following webinar announcement, and we are quite excited to do so. This looks to be an excellent pedagogically oriented webinar around civil conversations! You can register for the webinar here, but be sure to review the information below!

Now is the time to empower students to constructively discuss controversial issues; develop speaking, listening, and close reading skills; and improve understanding of their role in a democracy.
Join us for a free webinar that will help you facilitate engaging, structured, and standards-aligned academic discussions in your classes!
Thursday, November 2, 2017
7:00 p.m. (ET), 6:00 p.m. (MT), 5:00  p.m. (CT) , 4:00 p.m. (PT)
To view our list of free Civil Conversation resources visit our Curriculum Library.

A drawing for $25 Amazon gift cards will be held for participants that attend and complete the webinar survey!

A Conversation on Voting and Voting Rights at the University of Central Florida

fine eventAt the end of October, the Lou Frey Institute’s Dr. Terri Susan Fine will be discussing voting and voting rights at Ferrell Commons on the UCF campus. This is an important discussion, especially if you consider that for many, voting is one of the most important (though far from only!) elements of effective civic engagement. This event is targeting UCF students, but the general public is welcome to attend. We hope that you will join us for what will no doubt be an engaging and lively conversation!

The event will occur Friday, 27th Oct 17, at 1pm, in Ferrell Commons Room 165.

Florida Gubernatorial Candidates to Speak at Upcoming State Social Studies Conference!

Our friends from the Florida Council for the Social Studies want to remind you of the upcoming conference!

We are eagerly anticipating the exciting events planned for the 60th Annual Florida Council for the Social Studies Conference in Palm Harbor October 20 -22!

If you have already registered, you can look forward to these highlights:

  • The debut of the FCSS Time Machine, the opening reception for this years conference. During this time we encourage all attendees to dress to theme with a style from a decade in which FCSS has celebrated with an annual conference. (1958 to Present)
  • Over 80 exciting and meaningful sessions to support social studies educators in strengthening professional practices and engaging students in honoring the past, preserving the present and shaping the future. Please review the session matrix (available here:  2017 FCSS Session Descriptions)   to explore all of the wonderful session opportunities available to attend on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Saturday Mentor Session for supporting and recruiting knowledgeable and skillful social studies teachers, this session will provide educators with invaluable insights into professional practice.
  • Saturday General Session where attendees will have the opportunity to shape the future through a discussion with Florida Gubernatorial candidates focused on the shared commitment to the mission of Social Studies.
  • Free luncheon provided for all attendees with an interactive learning component sponsored by Studies Weekly.
  • Sunday keynote speaker who will provide an interactive experience with the opportunity to implement differentiated learning strategies to improve social studies achievement for English Language Learners and all students.
  • ​This is just a brief sampling of the jam packed weekend planned to nurture and support all social studies educators and advocates. ​

Haven’t registered yet? There is STILL time to secure your attendance for this exciting conference. Go to the FCSS website at, scroll down to the blue register now link, and register for the conference.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Palm Harbor!
The Florida Council for the Social Studies Conference Committee

Building on #CivX: The Former Members of Congress Take the First Step

Recently, we wrote about the CivX Summit in Washington, DC, where the Lou Frey Institute was recognized for the work it has done to build a quality civic education program in Florida. The summit closed with a call to arms, a recognition of the need that there needs to be more than simple talk when it comes to the vital need for engaging, action oriented, student focused civics. This cannot happen without those with the power to implement change actually doing so. This includes those we have placed in positions of respect and governance, such as our Congresspeople. Thus, it gives us great pleasure to learn that action has begun. The following was placed into the Congressional Record on the 27th of September:

Our last new development should be highlighted: we are issuing to our
Members a call to action on the crucially important aspect of civic
education. We have formed a partnership with the Lou Frey Institute at
the University of Central Florida. As you are surely aware, civic
education has been one of the most important issues our dear friend Lou
Frey has worked on since leaving Congress, and his institute has become
a leading voice on this topic in my home State of Florida. Included in
this partnership is the Civic Mission of Schools, which works hand in
hand with the civic education initiative of Justice Sandra Day
We envision an extremely active role for former Members to play at
the State level to be an advocate for civic education. Florida, of
course, is a great example on how civics can be restored if there is a
bipartisan consensus and commitment to make it happen.
In addition to this partnership, I am proud to share with you that we
are in the process of taking our highly successful model of the
international Congressional Study Groups and translating it for the
first time to a domestic issue: the Congressional Study Group on

What does this mean, outside of the lovely words and promises? It means that the Association of Former Members of Congress will be collaborating with the Lou Frey Institute at the University of Central Florida and our wonderful friends at the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools to work on models of civic education policy and implementation, drawing on the lessons learned from the good work done in Florida. Whether that means creating versions of the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship in other states, or taking a different approach, has yet to be determined. One of the key points made at the CivX Summit, after all, was that situations in every state are unique and call for unique approaches. It could be the Florida model, it could be the Illinois model, or it could be something completely different. What matters is that the banner has been hoisted, the battle engaged, and fight for quality civic education programs across the 50 states has begun in earnest. These men and women, our former elected leaders, are going to be doing there part, and we will work to hold them to it.

What will you do to make a difference? Take the #CivX pledge now, and join the battle. Civic education has never been more important, no matter the ideological divide that separates us.

The CivX Summit: Working to Prioritize Civics for the 21st Century.

Last week, at the Newseum in Washington, DC, the Lou Frey Institute at the University of Central Florida, in collaboration with our friends at iCivics, Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University, hosted the Democracy at a Crossroads: Our Nation’s Future Needs Innovative Civic Learning Now meeting of civic educators, thinkers, and leaders from across the country (including a number of high school and college students!). Better known, perhaps, as the CivX Summit, the event featured speakers from across the political spectrum and the civics education community.

What was the point of the summit? Why did all of these smart, dedicated people get together to talk about civics? The point, really, was to stress, on a national stage, why civics matters, and to encourage those with the power and ability to do something about civics to actually do it. The summit’s ‘jumping off point’ was the recently released white paper from Peter Levine and Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg of Tisch’s College of Civic Life. Throughout the day, speakers discussed the idea of ‘civic deserts’ and the impact they have on our society and on generations of Americans. They discussed why our discourse has perhaps become so degraded, pointing to a growing ‘Big Sort’ as a reason why Americans increasingly demand so-called ‘safe spaces’ for their views, left or right, and view ‘the other side’ as an obstacle and potential enemy, instead of just another American with a different idea.

A significant element of the ongoing conversation was what 21st century civics should look like. We know what it looks like; research has shown, consistently, what most engages students in civic life and civic learning: the Six Proven Practices. These practices (classroom instruction on relevant topics, deliberations on current events and controversial issues, service learning, student-led groups, student voice in schools, and simulations of democratic practices), however, demand additions. To address the severe issues we face in teaching and learning civics, the discussion at the summit emphasized the importance of 21st century news media literacy education, an action civics model, a consideration of social and emotional learning, and school climate reform.  You can read more about these important additions to the Six Proven Practices in the white paper.

Let’s consider that idea of school climate for a moment. It is, indeed, an area that has gotten a great deal of attention lately, and not always for the better. And in many cases, we do not often think about the connection between civics instruction and school climate. But one of the most powerful moments in the entire day was when we listened to the voice of a student. A young African American woman from a local DC high school, during a heated discussion of ‘the realities of school discipline and climate’, stood up and shared, with a great deal of power and emotion, why her peers are afraid to speak up, afraid to be involved in civic life in their schools and communities, afraid to be the active citizens they deserve to be. It was a powerful moment, and emphasized the importance of student voice in any consideration of civic education reform.

An additional important focus, especially relevant here in Florida, was the role of stakeholders within the state policy apparatus. Both Florida and Illinois were held up as examples of what can happen when the stakeholders get heard and when civics is given the priority it deserves. The recent work of our friends at McCormick, spearheaded by the incredible Dr. Shawn Healy, placed civic education well up the educational ladder in Illinois. At the same time, the work of Congressman Lou Frey and Senator Bob Graham in Florida, in collaboration with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and Dr. Doug Dobson (Executive Director of the Lou Frey Institute) and educators across the state to establish civics as a legislative and educational priority was featured. It was a proud moment for us here at the Lou Frey Institute at the University of Central Florida Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, as Congressman Frey and Senator Graham were recognized for their work. You can view the video below to get some sense of the work that has been done in this state. Civics matters in Florida.

The highlight of the event was without a doubt a conversation with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It was a powerful conversation, wide ranging over a number of civic topics, from cameras in the courtroom to engaging in civil discourse across ideological divides, and the justice was sure to engage directly with the high school and college students in the audience. It was a powerful moment, and emphasized for us the importance and impact of government officials engaging with students. 

It was, truly, an exciting opportunity to discuss the future of civics education in the United States. Now, the next step is to ensure that the conversation does not stop, and that it results in action. Let us all make that happen. Take the CivX Pledge, and commit to making a difference in your community and in civic life.

You can read more about the CivX Summit in the articles below:

Education Week: Justice Sotomayor at the Summit