Oh dear friends there are so many things we need to discuss when it comes to civics in Florida. But today, these many things will be mostly just what the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship is and what we do, as well as projects we have on the drawing board that can help civics educators in Florida and the nation.
What is the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship?
The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, or FJCC, is a partnership between the Lou Frey Institute at UCF and the Bob Graham Center at UF (hence the ‘Joint’ in our name). While we are grateful to be associated with the wonderful folks at the Bob Graham Center, most of the small team here are associated with the Lou Frey Institute. We are also a member of the Civics Renewal Network, and excited to collaborate with our partners in the network to provide resources to help civics teachers all over the country.
The FJCC provides curricular resources for social studies and civics teachers in Florida and beyond. We are currently in the process of aligning all materials to the BEST standards. These curricular resources, available on our main website, are 100% free (though registration is required) and include, but are not limited to:
- Civics in a Snap (CIAS): 15 to 20 minutes ‘mini-lessons’ that address the civic benchmarks and are aligned with Florida’s ELA Standards (and easily adaptable to Common Core and the social studies standards of other states)
- Students Investigating Primary Sources (SIPS): This series of lessons, which range from 2nd through 12th grade, introduce students to primary sources around a variety of topics. They are intended to be somewhat short and simple to use while still providing some level of rigor. They are aligned with Florida’s ELA and social studies benchmarks (for civics, government, and/or US history)
- Civics Correlation Guide to Current K-5 Reading Series: This resource is connected to all current K-5 reading series being used in Florida, and illustrates will you will find some level of alignment with civics benchmarks.
- K-5 Civics Modules: These extended lessons are aligned with civics and ELA benchmarks.
- 7th Grade Applied Civics Resources: Here, you will find 35 lessons that have been developed to teach, with fidelity, the assessed civics benchmarks. On the page link provided, you will find lesson plans, power points, teacher-oriented content videos, and assessment items, among other things.
- Civics Connection: Developed in partnership with College Board and the United States Association of Former Members of Congress, the Civics Connection provides video-based, internet-delivered set of lessons that engages former members of Congress to help high school students understand Congress and the issues it faces. Videos and resources are aligned to the AP U.S. Government and Politics curriculum and may be used in other government classes as well.
- Civics in Real Life: This is a FREE, WEEKLY updated resource that connects civic concepts and content to current events. It is updated on a consistent basis from early August to mid June. It is an effort to provide teachers with a resource they can use to talk about current events safely and effectively. Take a look!
- The Civics Classroom: This FREE online program will provide both new and experienced civics educators 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. Many of these modules will assist with satisfying the Florida Department of Education recertification requirement of professional development in teaching students with disabilities; however, each school district is responsible to ascertain if the content of professional learning activity completed by a school district employee satisfies the content requirement for teaching students with disabilities credit. You can learn more about this online professional development series here. We also offer courses in US History and in US Government (aligned with the Florida Civic Literacy Examination)
- The Civic Action Project: CAP is a free project-based learning program for civics and government from the Constitutional Rights Foundation. CAP is a culmination of students’ social studies education, a chance for them to apply what they have learned to the real world and impact an issue that matters to them. You can see some posts about CAP here.
- Politics in Action: While we have launched the Middle School CAP effort already, we also have developed and piloted something called Politics in Action (or PIA). This is based on the ‘Knowledge in Action’ work of Walter Parker and Jane Lo (and was developed for Florida in collaboration with Dr. Lo). This is essentially a simulation of American government that gives students the opportunity to really gain a deep (and necessary!) understanding of how American government is supposed to work. Take a look at the infographic below to see the 4 modules for this approach.
In the video below, Dr. Parker discusses this approach (though again, please note that we have adapted it for Florida!). You can learn more about this new resource by contacting our Civics Instructional Specialist, Chris Spinale.
Besides the resources listed above, we have also partnered with the National Archives to offer a webinar series around their quality primary sources (which you can get to through the links here and here).
The most significant resource we have developed is Civics360.
Civics360 is an interactive civics review tool to help Florida students improve their understanding of civics. Civics360 is funded by the Lou Frey Institute at the University of Central Florida and provided by the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, in collaboration with the Escambia County School District, and targets the civic knowledge and skills necessary to succeed on Florida’s Civics End of Course Assessment. You can get an overview of Civics360 and its various features here and here and here.
We also, at this time, provide some level of face to face professional development. If you are interested in PD, please feel free to contact me. Please be aware that as a result of our budget issues, we do ask that you cover if travel if possible.
The Staff of the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship
The FJCC has a small staff, but, we believe, a great one, and I am grateful for the opportunity to work with such wonderful people.
Dr. Doug Dobson: Dr. Dobson is the Senior Fellow of the Lou Frey Institute and a renowned advocate and leader in civics education in Florida and nationally. It is in many ways his leadership that helped the Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Education Act get passed.
Ms. Valerie McVey: Ms. McVey is the Curriculum Director for the FJCC and is our point person on curriculum development and resources. It is through her leadership, and the work of the rest of this great team and our collaborating teachers, that we have Civics in a Snap, Students Investigating Primary Sources, and our middle school lessons, among others.
Mr. Chris Spinale: Mr. Spinale is our Civics Instructional Specialist. He handles our mock election tools and resources, works on a variety of grant and curriculum related projects, including Politics in Action and the Civic Action Project.
Dr. Terri Susan Fine: Dr. Fine is a long time and well regarded professor here at UCF, within the political science department, and serves currently as our content specialist and as associate director of the Lou Frey Institute.
Ms. Marcia Bexley: Ms. Bexley serves as the program manager of the Lou Frey Institute. Marcia has worked with Congressman Lou Frey for the last 15+ years and shares his passion for Civics Education. She’s our liaison with the Rotary Civics Bowl and raises money for us through the golf tournament she runs for LFI in joint with the National Center for Simulation, and her local outreach.
Mr. Mike Barnhardt: Mr. Barnhardt is our lead programmer and developer. Much of what you see of our web presence is his fine work, especially Civics360.
Ms. Shena Parks: Ms. Parks is the one behind the budget. She makes sure that our dreams are affordable. She also serves as the coordinator of civic education efforts at the university campus level.
Ms. Laura Stephenson: Ms. Stephenson is the executive assistant at the Institute, and in many ways the first person our colleagues and collaborators encounter. She keeps our schedules and makes sure this place runs smoothly.
Ms. Sade Teel: Ms. Teel is the marketing specialist for the Institute, newly on board to help us expand our presence and efforts in Florida and beyond!
Dr. Steve Masyada: Dr. Masyada is the Director of the Lou Frey Institute and the FJCC. There is a great deal more we can say about our partnerships and our work (with NARA, the Constitutional Rights Foundation, and with the fine folks from CIRCLE, as well as leaders throughout Florida, for example), but we will save that for another time. If you have any questions about the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, please feel free to contact us at any time!