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As educators in the 21st century, we are all aware of the importance of a professional learning community to help us improve our practice and discuss the needs of both teachers and students within our field.

Recently, teachers in North Florida had an opportunity to come together as a Middle School Civics PLC, and were invited to host the meeting at the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee. Considering that engaging students at the state and local level is one of the most important goals of civic education, this was a perfect opportunity! At the meeting, in addition to discussing important topics related to civic education in their own classrooms, participants had the opportunity to interact with Governor Scott and to tour the mansion.

The governor of Florida, Rick Scott, meets with members of a middle school civics PLC in Tallahassee

The governor of Florida, Rick Scott, meets with members of a middle school civics PLC in Tallahassee

A look at the agenda for the meeting shows us what a strong PLC might look like, and can serve as a model if you are interested in developing your own civics-oriented PLC!

4:35 – 5:00          Governor’s Mansion Tour (Civics Field Experience Activity)

5:00 – 6:00         General Business & Collegial Conversations (Midtown Caboose)

February is Black History MonthFlorida Statute 1003.42 (h) – The history of African Americans, including the history of African peoples before the political conflicts that led to the development of slavery, the passage to America, the enslavement experience, abolition, and the contributions of African Americans to society.  Several resources have been sent via email from Ron Wetherington.

President’s Day- Florida Statute 1003.42 (f) The history of the United States, including the period of discovery, early colonies, the War for Independence, the Civil War, the expansion of the United States to its present boundaries, the world wars, and the civil rights movement to the present. American history shall be viewed as factual, not as constructed, shall be viewed as knowable, teachable, and testable, and shall be defined as the creation of a new nation based largely on the universal principles stated in the Declaration of Independence. Several resources have been sent via email from Ron Wetherington.

 

Web Address for LCS Civics Resources- Leon County Schools 7th grade Applied Civics http://www2.leon.k12.fl.us/sites/civics

 Tallahassee Democrat: 7th Grade NIE Civics Essay Contest – Leon County Schools in partnership with The Tallahassee Democrat, Children’s Week, Newspapers in Education (NIE), and the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship have provided us, again, with a fabulous opportunity for all 7th grade Civics Students. Please note that all 7th grade LCS Civics teachers should have their students participate as part of the LCS Civics Initiative.  . The winners will be recognized on April 14th during Children’s Day at Capitol. There are fabulous prizes for the winning students.

DEADLINE: Teacher selected*civics essays, top 3 per teacher, must be submitted to the Tallahassee Democrat no later than Thursday, March 12, 2015. Please be sure to include a signed NIE Civics Essay Permission form with each essay submitted.

Please submit essays to – Attn: Leslie Smith, 277 N. Magnolia Drive, Tallahassee, Florida 32301

2014 – 2015 Civics End-of-Course (EOC) Assessment Fact SheetThe fact sheet has been released and is included in this info file. EOC Testing dates are April 20 – May 22 (most schools will not begin until the end of April due to FCAT testing – each school will decide on their testing dates).

2014 – 2015 Civics Progress Monitoring Blue Print / Calendar – Please note that the window for students to take the LCS Diagnostic / Final is March 24 through April 3rd. It is imperative that students finish the test by Friday, April 3rd and that tests are scanned by that afternoon so scores can be run for distribution at our final Learning Community Meeting on April 8th.

Civics Review Resources – As you prepare your students for the upcoming LCS Diagnostic / Final and for the State Civics EOC, please feel free to utilize a variety of the benchmark review resources that have been made available. (I will send these out electronically as well)

  • Civics EOC Assessment Review Study Packet (students create based on LCS handout)
  • Civics End of Course Online Benchmark Review (utilizing the Escambia website with LCS handout)
  • Civics 2nd Semester Common Assessment Benchmark Review (LCS handout to go with 1st semester review handout)
  • Holt Practice EOC Test
  • Practice Test from Test Item Specs Booklet
  • LCS Testing Strategies Flipchart
  • LCS Civics Review by Benchmark – PowerPoint with quick review slides of major topics/benchmarks

April Civics Learning Community Meeting The next Middle School Civics Learning Community Meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 (4:30-6:00) at Deerlake Middle School. Please make sure all of your students have finished the Progress Monitoring Test before Friday, April 3rd and that you have scanned in all scores by 4:00pm that day. We will be running reports that you will receive at the April 8th meeting. These reports will provide valuable data that will be useful as you prepare your students and review benchmarks in preparation for the upcoming EOC.

 Follow-up Assignment for TEC points – The follow up for this year’s meetings will be the Assessment results from the District Assessments as well as the EOC taken this the year.

I will suggest that one of the key words in this agenda for this group of fantastic civic educators is ‘collegial’. In order for a PLC to be effective and engaging, participants must feel that sense of community and be given an opportunity to discuss the issues that are important to them while still relevant to the broader PLC. At the same time, you cannot simply talk data, data, data within a PLC. Note how the tour of the mansion is described as a ‘civics field experience activity’. I would argue that in order to TEACH civics to the best of our ability, we must LIVE civics! A PLC experience like this can give you an opportunity to LIVE that civics. And it need not be the Governor’s extensive manse. You could do something very similar in relation to, for example, a visit to a town hall or council chamber!

I could go on and on about the benefits of a civics oriented PLC, but I think the details on the agenda speak for themselves. For more information on the structure and success of this specific PLC (and how you might be involved in something similar), please contact our wonderful regional programs coordinator Peggy Renihan. She can be reached at peggy.renihan@ucf.edu.

If you have news or information about a civics or even social studies PLC that you would like to share, please let me know at stephen.masyada@ucf.edu, or leave a note in the comments!

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