Free changes teachers can make that have a big impact on students | Ga. to review common core, social studies curriculum | Colorado begins to implement a host of school reforms
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August 23, 2013
NCSS SmartBrief
Social Studies – Preparing Students for College, Career and Civic Life

Teaching & Learning
Marking the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington in the classroom
The 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, a pivotal moment in U.S. history, is Aug. 28. Bill Fletcher Jr., an author, activist and senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., offers lesson ideas, such as comparing the text of the speech given by Martin Luther King Jr. with video clips, plus examining other speeches of the day. "We can all do justice to this anniversary by asking the right questions and providing the actual historical context in which the 1963 March unfolded," Fletcher writes in this blog post. The Huffington Post/The Blog (8/21)
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Free changes teachers can make that have a big impact on students
There are several small changes teachers can make that cost nothing but can drastically improve students' experience, long-time educator Jim Dillon writes in this blog post. Among them, Dillon suggests teachers be polite; think of their class as a community, rather than a group; be interested and interesting; and have high expectations for students. Teachers should show they care, Dillon writes, by creating "NEED to TALK" cards "for students to use and place on their desk in case it is hard to verbally ask for help." SmartBrief/SmartBlog on Education (8/19)
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Mental Healthcare For Teachers
Between preparing substitute plans and finding a therapist that's accepting new patients, getting mental healthcare can feel impossible. Read the whitepaper to learn how teachers can get easy access to continuous mental healthcare today. Read the Whitepaper.
Policy Watch
Ga. to review common core, social studies curriculum
Barbara Hampton, chairwoman of the Georgia State Board of Education, said the board will conduct a public review of the Common Core State Standards, in response to a letter from Gov. Nathan Deal. The governor also called for the board to come up with a social studies curriculum that focuses civic and financial responsibility as well as learning the "foundational tenets," including U.S. government, and includes a sample reading list. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (8/21), The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (8/22)
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Colorado begins to implement a host of school reforms
The beginning of the school year in Colorado brings many school reforms, including teacher and principal evaluations, widespread implementation of the Common Core State Standards and online state tests in social studies and science. "We're looking at this as a huge opportunity for us to be better professionals," Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said of the evaluations that have been in the works for two years. The Denver Post (8/18)
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Other News
Technology in the Classroom
ITunes U helps connect Ill. teachers with professional development
Teachers at an Illinois magnet school are taking a high-tech approach to professional development by accessing online lessons at iTunes U, where teachers can complete training at their own pace. Chrissie Edwards, an instructional-technology coach, said teachers are notified via their iPads after she uploads materials to the site. "It's differentiated instruction," said Rida Ellis, an instructional coach. Herald & Review (Decatur, Ill.) (8/22)
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How teachers can develop classroom relationships in high-tech world
How can teachers ensure they build a classroom community that includes meaningful relationships -- able to exist along with technology? In this blog post, Andrew Marcinek, a director of technology in Massachusetts, writes that he recognizes the device can take precedence and suggests teachers create time for offline discussions, help students connect with each other in person and integrate the concept of a Facebook wall into the physical classroom space. Marcinek's blog (8/19)
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Social Studies & Civic Life
Neb. social studies class update their hometown's history
High-school seniors in Bertrand, Neb., combed through old newspapers and other resources to update the book containing the official account of the community's history. Last updated in 1985, the book's new version took six months of research and writing by the group of 21 students working under the guidance of social studies teacher Mark Dethlefs. "It was amazing to learn what the town went through to survive," student Austin Ackerman said, adding, "I feel closer to my town." Omaha World-Herald (Neb.) (8/20)
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Study: Older students volunteer less often when service is required
Older students in Maryland tend to volunteer less when high schools required community service as a condition of graduation, according to a study published in the Economics of Education Review. Maryland mandates the completion of 75 hours of community service by graduation. The study showed significant increases in volunteering among eighth-grade students, but participation declined among older students. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (8/21)
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Other News
NCSS Updates
NCSS Online Learning Center
NCSS will offer online education to the social studies community starting in the 2013-14 school year. We are looking for presenters to discuss a variety of topics that are relevant to the social studies professional. Learn more.
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NCSS Annual Conference Speaker Richard Beeman
Richard R. Beeman, John Welsh Centennial Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, will speak in November at the NCSS Annual Conference in St. Louis. In his presentation, Beeman will focus on three fundamental issues in America's commitment to equality: the ongoing debate about the role of government; the definition of Americans' fundamental rights; and the meaning of America's commitment to equality. Read more about Beeman and other NCSS Annual Conference speakers.
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Our attitudes control our lives. Attitudes are a secret power working twenty-four hours a day, for good or bad. It is of paramount importance that we know how to harness and control this great force."
-- Tom Blandi,
French author
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