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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More Upcoming 2018 FCSS Conference Highlights!

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The other day we shared some upcoming FCSS conference sessions that caught our attention. But oh my goodness there are so many more that are worth a look! Let’s pick up with a look at sessions later in the afternoon! Oh, and register for the conference here. 

October 20th, 2018
Concurrent Session 4
Complicating the Narrative: Teaching 9/11 in a Changing World
Jennifer Lagasse, 9/11 Memorial and Museum
This is a session that intrigues your bloghost greatly. How do we balance instruction about a topic that is, increasingly, becoming less of a memory for the next generation of students? How do we approach teaching about civil liberties, national security, religion, and more? A presenter from the 9/11 Memorial and Museum will lead the discussion!

Politics-in-Action: Transforming Your Semester-Long U.S. Government Course through Project-Based Learning
Chris Spinale, FJCC at LFI Action Civics Coordinator
Dr. Jane Lo, Florida State University
Project-based learning. Can we ever get enough resources to implement it in the classroom? Learn about a simulation-oriented approach to teaching government that has proven successful in many classrooms. This is a free, ready-made curriculum you can use and adapt for your own classrooms.

The State of the Assessment: The Civics EOCA
Dr. Stacy Skinner, Test Development Center, Florida Department of Education
Lots of folks involved in test development and review
So, what’s going on with the state assessment for Civics? Learn from the person that is in charge of putting it together! This session will be similiar to the earlier U.S. History session on this topic. 

Concurrent Session 5
Contextualizing Equality: Founding Fathers and Founding Principles
Jennifer Jaso, Florida Council for History Education
This interesting session uses primary sources to explore whether the Founding Fathers truly supported the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence. 

Step Up America: A Call to Good Citizenship
Terri Lynn Demmon, Step Up America
Learn about how this how this non-partisan organization can help you teach your students about good citizenship, patriotism, and history!

Simulations, Technology, Oh My!
Jillianne King, Davidsen Middle School
Cory Puppa, Martinez Middle School
Engage your students in civics through the use of technology! Check out some cool resources that you can use to deepen your kids’ understanding of civics while also engaging them deeper in their learning! 


In a later post, we’ll further explore sessions and the excellent keynotes for Saturday and Sunday, but don’t forget that Saturday will be an awards dinner where you can see your peers and colleagues recognized for their contributions to the social studies community! So be sure to get your tickets in advance!

And of course you can register for the conference here. Be sure to check this space for additional highlights of scheduled sessions and events and sponsors and vendors!

Founders Month in Florida: Thomas Jefferson

Sept 25 Jefferson

American Founders’ Month continues in Florida. Today, we look at Thomas Jefferson. Out of all of the Founders’, it may be Thomas Jefferson that most schoolchildren are most familiar with. They know him, of course, as the author of the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration, of course, is considered on of the clearest rebukes of tyranny ever written, and it remains to this day a symbol of the pursuit of liberty the world over.

Like many of his peers, however, Jefferson was a man of massive contradictions. An advocate for liberty who owned a great many slaves, a slaveowner who recognized the evils of slavery (‘the rock upon which the Union would split’) but never freed his own slaves (unlike his colleague and friend George Washington, who freed his own upon his death), an opponent of an activist and strong central government who nevertheless used his power to purchase vast swathes of land from the French (despite his doubts about whether the Constitution gave him that power), and a believer in the importance of civility and comity in politics and life who was involved in one of the most brutal presidential campaigns in American history.

Thomas Jefferson was indeed many things, some good, some bad, but all important to the legacy of freedom and the Founders of this country. As one of his successors as president, John F. Kennedy, once said while hosting a dinner for Nobel Prize winners,

I want to tell you how welcome you are to the White House. I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.
Someone once said that Thomas Jefferson was a gentleman of 32 who could calculate an eclipse, survey an estate, tie an artery, plan an edifice, try a cause, break a horse, and dance the minuet.

Log in and learn more about Thomas Jefferson from this excellent lesson provided by our friends at iCivics! 

You can grab the PowerPoint featured at the top of this post here: Thomas Jefferson AFM

Upcoming 2018 FCSS Conference Sessions

Hello friends! Don’t forget, the annual Florida Council for the Social Studies Conference is coming soon, and you can register here! The conference features two quality keynote speakers (one Saturday and one Sunday) and you can expect some excellent opportunities for networking. And let’s highlight some potential sessions of interest across content areas and grade levels. I’ll be sharing some of these highlights in the lead up to the conference, which is October 19-21, 2018.

October 19th, 2018
5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Conference Opening Reception

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It’s time to have some fun and meet some colleagues! Join FCSS and the conference sponsors at the opening reception, and wear something that represents key events, people, social, or cultural aspects of the Sunshine State! Your modest bloghost will be there, likely in one of the many Disney shirts his wife insists on buying him. Because what represents Florida more than Disney? (Actually, a whole lot more does).

October 20th, 2018
Concurrent Session 1
Time for Social Studies? Maximize Elementary Social Studies Curriculum with Literature
Melissa Parks, Stetson University

Explore some useful and engaging new texts for teaching elementary social studies! But, hey, speaking from experience, older kids can get some much out of elementary literature as well, so if you are a secondary teacher, you could find this session engaging as well. I attended it at another conference and it was fantastic! 

The Experiment called the Constitution
Carol LaValle and Tammara Purdin, Teaching Primary Sources Program at UCF

Let’s play with some documents! Take a look at the personal notes of Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson, and others, and learn about the personal side to that great document of ours, the Constitution!

Gender Play: Enacting Women’s Experiences in the Social Studies Curriculum
Andrea Watson-Canning, University of South Florida
Did you know that FCSS is one of the only state-level councils with its own College and University Faculty Assembly, made up of college level social studies professionals and researchers from across the state? So you can expect some excellent research-based sessions at the conference, and this is one of them! How do we integrate women into the social studies curriculum effectively, without it simply being shoehorned in poorly? 

Concurrent Session 2
Activating Student Mastery with No-Cost Real World Resources
Bhumi Patel, Everfi
Kimberly Garton, Brevard Public Schools
Everybody likes free stuff, right? And this is great free stuff that will help support social studies instruction across a variety of content areas! 

Expressing Civic Identity: Student Voices from a U.S. Government Classroom
Sarah M. Mead, University of South Florida

Another interesting CUFA session! In this, the presenter will explore the ways in which students perceive their government class in relation to their own developing civic identities. Considering U.S. government is likely their last social studies class before they get the right to vote, this is a very interesting consideration of how civic identity is shaped and impacted by instruction. 

Under the Rainbow: Exploring Global LGBTQ+ Issues
Katty Francis, USF, Leto High School
Cristina Viera, University of South Florida
This session is oriented towards project-based learning, always a high-demand focus in social studies. More importantly, it considers ways in which we can integrate issues relating to the LGBTQ+ community into Civics and U.S. Government, especially important as we think about the changing nature of our classrooms and the climate of the nation. 

Concurrent Session 3
Personal Finance for the Next Generation
Brett Burkey, Florida Council on Economic Education
How about some free resources for teaching personal financial literacy? Yup, you will find them here, including dozens of free lesson plans!

The State of the Assessment: The US History EOCA
Dr. Stacy Skinner, Test Development Center, Florida Department of Education
Lots of folks involved in test development and review
So, what’s going on with the state assessment for US History? Learn from the person that is in charge of putting it together!

Sikhs in America-Immigration, Challenges, and Achievements
Pritpal Kaur, Sikh Coalition
Learn more about the Sikh community and the role they have played in securing rights for immigrant communities. This is an undertaught but important area that we can integrate into our instruction on immigration and civil rights!

These are just a few of the sessions you will find at FCSS in October! In later posts, we’ll highlight concurrent sessions four and five and continue to explore some interesting sessions across the weekend! Be sure to register for the conference here.


Resources for Constitution Day and Freedom Week


Here in Florida, we are required by state statute to teach about the important documents of this country during Freedom Week at the end of September. This is in addition to what is expected for Constitution Day. The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute has a number of lessons that target grades 2-12 and are intended to help teach our state benchmarks that can be connected to Freedom Week and Constitution Day!   You do, of course, need to register on our main site in order to access these new free resources. You can visit each lesson directly from the links below. Each one is intended to give students some hands on experience with primary sources and everything you need for instruction is provided for you (though you do need to use your own technology!).

Thinking Through Timelines: Inching Toward Independence

A Short Activity for Second Grade

Question: Why do we celebrate Independence Day?

Thinking Through Timelines: Creating the Constitution

A Short Activity for Third Grade

Question: Why do we celebrate Constitution Day?

Guidance on Government: State Edition

A Short Activity for Fourth Grade

Question: How does the Florida Constitution organize the government?

Guidance on Government: Federal Edition

A Short Activity for Fifth Grade

Question: How does the U.S. Constitution organize the government?

Decoding the Declaration, Celebrate Freedom Week Part I

A Short Activity for High School and Middle School

Question: What did declaring independence say about the importance of rights?

Intentions for Independence, Celebrate Freedom Week Part II

A Short Activity for High School and Middle School

Question: Were the colonists justified in declaring independence?

Rhetoric of Revolution, Celebrate Freedom Week Part III

A Short Activity for High School and Middle School

Question: How does language intensify the message of the Declaration of Independence?

Forward to the Future, Celebrate Freedom Week Part IV

A Short Activity for High School and Middle School

Question: How are the ideas from the Declaration of Independence connected to our government today?

Arguing Arkansas: Analyzing the Impact of Eisenhower’s Little Rock Speech

A short activity for High School U.S. History and U.S. Government Courses

Question: How did civil rights conflicts affect American society during the Eisenhower era?

Pestering With a Purpose: Arguing Women’s Right to Vote

A Short Activity for the U.S. Government Course

Question: How is this document an illustration of civic and political participation?

Suffering Through Suffrage: Arguing Women’s Right to Vote

A Short Activity for the U.S. History Course

Question: Why do the authors oppose woman suffrage?

In addition to our original lessons, We have also created brand new lessons that feature the work of legendary cartoonist Clifford Berryman! These are intended to be used at the 6-12 level. 

Anyone Home?

A Short Activity for High School and Middle School

Question: How does this political cartoon illustrate the lawmaking process?

Picturing Separation of Powers

A Short Activity for High School and Middle School

Question: How do the political cartoons relate to the concept of separation of powers?

Suiting Up

A Short Activity for High School and Middle School

Question: How does this political cartoon illustrate the concept of checks and balances?

Big Civics Ideas Through Political Cartoons

A Short Activity for Middle School Civics

Question: How do the political cartoons illustrate big civics ideas?

And of COURSE this Freedom Month don’t forget the Preamble Challenge from our friends at the Civics Renewal Network! Check it out today!

Preamble challengePreamble Challenge


A Visit to Citrus Ridge Civics Academy to See an Inauguration!

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So the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute was invited to attend the first ever Student Government Inauguration Ceremony at Citrus Ridge Civics Academy.

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This is a wonderful step forward for the school and for the district, reflecting the creation and nature of the school as a true ‘civics academy’ that will allow students to gain and practice the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to good citizenship.

The excellent student government adviser and civics integration specialist, Ms. Brindy Branneky, collaborated with FJCC’s Action Civics Coordinator, Chris Spinale and the students of Citrus Ridge to craft a student constitution modeled on that of Constitution High School in Philadelphia. After a contested and engaging election, the school elected a slate of officers and representatives for an executive and unicameral legislative branch (the judicial branch, which will take part in school discipline procedures, will likely be brought in next year as they seek to make the new system work!).

Congratulations to all of the new officers and representatives of Citrus Ridge!


The executive branch of Citrus Ridge Civics Academy Student Government


Newly elected class representatives are sworn into the Citrus Ridge Civics Academy House of Representatives


New Student Government President Ms. Aleciyah Brady is sworn in by Principal Leatherwood.

A significant effort was made to try and have this event reflect a ‘real’ inauguration ceremony, with lots of flags, an Inaugural Address, poetry, and even a parade!


President Brady delivers her First Inaugural Address

Congratulations to all of the new student government leaders:

President: Ms. Aleciyah Brady
Secretaries: Ms. Autumn Johnson and Ms. Mi-Na Bonterre
Sergeant at Arms: Ms. Alezia Dumas
Speaker of the House: Ms. Jaleanis Marquez
Treasurer: Mr. Kai Fussell
And all of the dozens of new members of the House Representatives!

We look forward to working with these students and their facilitators throughout the rest of the year and beyond! Thanks so much for inviting us!

Founders Month in Florida: The Seminole Tribe!

Seminole Founders

It’s Founders Month here in Florida, and of course we will continue to recognize those men and women who played a role in the establishment of this country of ours, but this state of Florida ALSO has Founders, and let’s take a few minutes and recognize perhaps one of the most important groups that have played a role in Florida’s history and development (and continue to), the Seminole Indians.

The Seminoles are more than a group Andrew Jackson struggled to defeat, or the name of Florida State’s sports teams. As the Seminoles themselves declare, they never signed a peace treaty with the federal government of the United States. There history in what is now Florida and the southeastern United States dates back thousands of years, and their people and culture have undergone tremendous challenges over the course of the development of Florida.  By the time in 1842 that President John Tyler declared an end to federal efforts at forcing the Seminoles to sign a peace a treaty, the people of this indigenous community, which also welcomed both escaped slaves and free blacks, had suffered a great deal, and would struggle into the 20th century.

But the story of the Seminoles cannot be allowed to end with reference to their struggles in the 20th century. Rather, these Founders of Florida have maintained a thriving, multiracial, and active culture, and grown both economically and politically successful as a community a result of the establishment of the gaming industry and strong leadership of a variety of members of the Seminole Nation.

This post has only scratched the surface of the Seminole people, who have played such an important role in our state history and culture. You can learn a great deal more about Seminole history and culture from their own website. You can also check out this good lesson from Florida Memory, especially if you are looking towards the SS.4.A.3.8 benchmark!

Access the PowerPoint slide featured at the top of this post here: Seminole Nation

And of COURSE this Freedom Month don’t forget the Preamble Challenge from our friends at the Civics Renewal Network! Check it out today!

Preamble challengePreamble Challenge

Founders’ Month in Florida: Judith Sargent Murray

Sept 28 Murray
American Founders’ Month (and Freedom Week!) continues in Florida. Today, let’s take a look at one of the earliest advocates for women’s rights in our young nation’s history, especially relevant as we approach the anniversary of the 19th Amendment: Judith Sargent Murray.

Judith Sargent Murray was born in pre-Revolutionary Boston, the daughter of a well-to-do merchant family. It as fortunate for us, as it was for her, that her parents believed in educating their daughters as well as their sons. Unfortunately, this education was limited to reading and writing; Sargent Murray had little opportunity for advanced education. Instead, she took advantage of her father’s vast library and educated herself in history, civics, philosophy, literature, and so much more. This education, so much of it self-taught, she put to work as a writer and thinker and, most importantly, advocate for the rights of women and the equality of the sexes.

For Judith Sargent Murray, the way in which we consider the roles and educations of boys and girls was unjust, stifling, and wrong. In her seminal work, ‘On the Equality of the Sexes‘ (1790), she raises doubts about the argument that men are inherently the intellectual superiors to women:

“Yet it may be questioned, from what doth this superiority, in thus discriminating faculty of the soul proceed. May we not trace its source in the difference of education, and continued advantage?…As their years increase, the sister must be wholly domesticated, while the brother is led by the hand through all the flowery paths of science”

In other words, the only reason men can claim superiority to women is because we do not give women the same education and opportunities as men! This theme would reappear throughout her work over the years, and she never ceased believing that America offered a great opportunity for a reconsideration of the role and education of girls. The new nation, after all, needed women who would raise the next generation to believe in and understand the American spirit and model, a ‘Republican motherhood‘ that required educated, passionate, and (to a degree for its day) liberated women.

Sargent Murray practiced what she preached, educating the children in her house as she believed they deserved and as was right. She also wrote hundreds of essays and letters and articles, many of which were published under pen names in such a way as to hide the fact that she was a woman, for she feared her arguments would be automatically rejected. She was a ‘Founding Mother’ of the pursuit of equal rights, an advocate for the American project, and someone who encouraged the new nation to live up to the ideals it promised. You can learn more about the wonderful Judith Sargent Murray from this excellent lesson.

Grab the PowerPoint featured at the top of this post: Judith Sargent Murray AFM

And of COURSE this Freedom Month don’t forget the Preamble Challenge from our friends at the Civics Renewal Network! Check it out today!

Preamble challengePreamble Challenge

!!!!!2018 FCSS Annual Conference!!!!!

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Hey friends in social studies! Have you registered to attend the upcoming Florida Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference, to be held here in sunny Orlando, Florida from October 19th to October 21st? If not, why not? It’s going to be an excellent time to network, connect, and learn! Check out some of the sessions and networking opportunities we have available!


Of course we begin with a celebration of social studies in Florida! Join us for a reception on Friday!
opening reception

Sessions on Saturday and Sunday will cover a variety of topics across all grade levels, including digital learning, simulations, discussion models, curriculum tools and resources, controversial issues, and more!

On Saturday, we will feature the wonderful Dr. Tina Heafner of UNC-Charlotte, who will discuss the role that social studies NEEDS to play in the lives of our students and our communities!


On Sunday, we are very excited for a Brunch and Learn with Sajeet Kaur of the Sikh Coalition!



Celebrating the 19th Amendment with the National Archives!


Friends, some exciting news from the National Archives! To celebrate the approaching anniversary of the 19th Amendment (passed by Congress in June of 1919 and ratified in August of 1920, NARA is offering a free pop up display explaining and celebrating that historic expansion of the franchise!
You can reserve your FREE display here starting on Wednesday, 19th September. 
The National Archives is offering a free pop up display titled Rightfully Hers
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment
Spotlighting this landmark moment in American history and what it took to secure voting rights for women, this pop up display contains simple messages exploring the history of the 19th amendment’s ratification, women’s voting rights before and after the 19th amendment, and its impact today.
The link to request one will go live here at Noon EDT on Wednesday, September 19. You will not be able to request one before so mark your calendar! They will go fast!

Displays will be delivered in early March 2019.
Presented in part by Unilever, Pivotal Ventures, Carl M. Freeman Foundation in honor of Virginia Allen Freeman, AARP and the National Archives Foundation.

This new pop up history will be a nice addition to all of the resources available to celebrate our Constitution, especially near Constitution Day! Be sure to check out the Preamble Challenge from our friends at the Civics Renewal Network! Check it out today!

Founders’ Month in Florida: George Mason

Sept 29 Mason
It’s American Founders’ Month in Florida. Today, we have one of the most important, but perhaps least remembered, Founders: George Mason.

Why does George Mason matter? After all, he was one of only three delegates to the Convention of 1787 who refused to sign the Constitution. But it is, indeed, that very refusal that tells us why George Mason matters: He is the Father of the Bill of Rights. It was Mason’s vocal objections, and his work on the Virginia Declaration of Rights, that led to the drafting and incorporation of the Bill of Rights into our Constitution.

Even with the promise from the Federalists to include a Bill of Rights, Mason fought hard against ratification of the Constitution; his arguments failed to persuade enough Virginians to vote against ratification however. And his fervent and sometimes angry opposition to the Constitution in some ways destroyed his relationships with those who he fought beside for independence. In a letter to his son, he wrote that

You know the friendship which has long existed (indeed from our early youth) between General Washington and myself. I believe there are few men in whom he placed greater confidence; but it is possible my opposition to the new government, both as a member of the national and of the Virginia Convention, may have altered the case.

Indeed, Washington himself was bitter about Mason’s opposition, and they never reconciled before Mason’s death in 1792. Despite his opposition to the Constitution, however, is to George Mason that most Americans owed their first tastes of liberty under the new government and his Bill of Rights. You can learn more about George Mason from this excellent lesson provided by the Bill of Rights Institute. 

Grab the PowerPoint slide featured at the top of this post: George Mason AFM

And of COURSE this Freedom Month don’t forget the Preamble Challenge from our friends at the Civics Renewal Network! Check it out today!

Preamble challengePreamble Challenge