Today’s post is a guest post from Audrey Mazzota, the Southeast Regional Coordinator for the Joe Foss Institute. She joins us this morning to discuss how the Joe Foss Institute can help you and your students grow in your understanding of American history and civics through the programs they offer. As a veteran, I especially admire their integration of active duty and former military members into classrooms. Please remember that this is a national organization, so it serves more than just Florida!
Friends in civics, I mentioned previously that I had spent a week in Miami last month, prior to my two weeks in Boston, working with our Val McVey and teachers and staff from Miami Dade schools. This work involved creating curricular materials for third through fifth grade that are aligned with the grade level Civics and Florida Standards for ELA. While we already have entire extended lessons for these, the new materials are actually intended to be 15 to 20 minute mini-lessons that we believe effectively get to the civics benchmarks without requiring a significant investment of time. Elementary social studies is the curricular equivalent of the Ottoman Empire in 1914: it exists, everybody likes to pretend it matters, but no one wants anything to really do with it until they absolutely have to. I’ve discussed this briefly before:
We know that both nationally and in Florida, social studies education is often lacking at the elementary level. This is NOT a new thing; generally speaking, social studies has been on the decline for decades, especially at the elementary level. The reasons for this are many and varied, but one can assume, rightly I think, that a decline in general social studies instruction could also result in a decline in civics instruction in the elementary grades.
The most pressing problem for elementary teachers is, most often, time. In our observations, and in the research, we just don’t see hard-pressed elementary teachers finding the time to do extensive work with social studies in general and civics in particular. To address this, we teamed with folks from Miami, with the support of their fantastic Social Studies director, Bob Brazofsky. The result of this partnership is our new collection of mini-lessons for elementary teachers, which we have termed
These mini-lessons will be shared with you once we get our new website up and running this fall. Miami-Dade is in the process of integrating them into their planning guides, and we will be hosting them on a new section of our website devoted to elementary civics. For now, I am sharing with you a sample of that work, in this case, the Civics in a Snap lesson for SS.3.C.2.1:Identify group and individual actions of citizens that demonstrate
civility, cooperation, volunteerism, and other civic virtues. Click on the images to embiggen them (embiggen is, of course, a perfectly cromulent word)!
If you have questions about these new resources, feel free to shoot me an email! We are so excited about what we hope will be a useful, and used, civics resource for elementary teachers!
We know that both nationally and in Florida, social studies education is often lacking at the elementary level. This is NOT a new thing; generally speaking, social studies has been on the decline for decades, especially at the elementary level. The reasons for this are many and varied, but one can assume, rightly I think, that a decline in general social studies instruction could also result in a decline in civics instruction in the elementary grades. Certainly, the FJCC has recognized this as a problem. One of our goals over the coming year is to address the problem of civics instruction in the primary grades, through the development and refinement of grade-level appropriate lesson plans, professional development for teachers, collaboration with districts, and joint efforts with other state and national groups to address what is not just a Florida issue.
So, dear friends and colleagues, I put this out there for you: how would YOU address the problem of civic education at the elementary level? How can we improve instruction and learning in the primary grades without resorting to the ‘if it is tested it is taught’ model?