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Showing posts from 2021

Service Learning to Commemorate Holocaust Rememberence Day

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist On April 4th, the White House issued a proclamation to commemorate Yom HaShoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day. One excerpt from the piece stated: It is painful to remember. It is human nature to want to leave the past behind. But in order to prevent a tragedy like the Holocaust from happening again, we must share the truth of this dark period with each new generation. All of us must understand the depravity that is possible when governments back policies fueled by hatred, when we dehumanize groups of people, and when ordinary people decide that it is easier to look away or go along than to speak out. Our children and grandchildren must learn where those roads lead so that the commitment of “never again” lives strongly in their hearts. Students from Glenn Westlake Middle School in Lombard, Illinois pledged to do their part to make a commitment to be upstanders in their community as they reflected on the lessons of the Holocaust and

Digital Well-Being and Citizenship

by Sue Khalaieff, Democracy Schools Network Manager The eighth session of the Civics Across the Curriculum webinar series was held on Thursday, April 8, 2021. This year’s theme builds on the theme from the originally scheduled Democracy Schools Network (DSN) Spring 2020 convening, “Every Teacher is a Civics Teacher: Best Practices for Civic Learning and Organizational Supports.” View a recording of the session . The program featured two DSN members from Antioch Community High School (ACHS) discussing their ongoing efforts to blend digital literacy and citizenship with their staff and students. Grant Murray, Dean of Students and Jaclyn Orlov, Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction, began blazing the trail for this initiative at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. When this program started, it came out of a concern to promote a safe and responsible use of technology. This had been a concern for a while, but with this undertaking, the approach would be different w

Service Learning Connects Students with Local Elections

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist The Illinois Civics requirements for both middle and high school require students to engage in service learning to provide real-world opportunities to take informed action on issues that matter to them. These issues can range from local to global. Candace Fikis, a social studies teacher at West Chicago Community High School , collaborated with her colleagues Roberta Felfle and John Chisholm to engage students in understanding voting and elections by facilitating students to prepare and host a virtual candidate forum. This was an authentic opportunity to apply disciplinary content knowledge to a democratic institution that impacts their everyday life and prepare the community, including 18-year-old students, to cast their ballot. Candace, an Illinois Civics Instructional Coach and member of the Democracy Schools Network , is one of 26 educators participating in the Guardians of Democracy Microcredential Program with Volunteer

Stop AAPI Hate

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by Sonia Mathew, McCormick Foundation Program Officer and Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist On the evening of March 16th, eight people were murdered in horrific shootings in the Atlanta area . Six of the victims were of Asian descent. The Illinois Civics Hub and Democracy Schools Initiative mourn with the families and friends of loved ones who were lost in the attacks. These attacks appear to be the latest horrifying incident of anti-Asian and Pacific Islander sentiment in our country, According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, hate crimes against Asian Americans in the 16 largest U.S. cities have spiked by nearly 150% during 2020 , while overall hate crimes dropped by 7%. Stop AAPI Hate has also released a national report that covers the nearly 3,800 incidents of violence that have been directed against Asian Americans. When tragedy and violence occurs, classrooms become an important venue for st

Service Learning to Bridge the Digital Divide

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist Teaching students in a pandemic is difficult with the best of supports and technology. For students in many rural communities, lack of access to reliable internet adds an additional layer of isolation, frustration, and highlights issues of equity and power. Hannah Maze and her students at Anna Jonesboro Community High School recently joined with other schools in her region to use service learning to advocate for policies to bridge the digital divide. Hannah Maze is devoted to creating hands-on content for her social studies classes. Hannah’s classes have created new school policies, worked alongside legislators in the region, conducted classroom debates, participated in Socratic Seminars, and engaged in mock trials. As part of the Guardians of Democracy Microcredential Program with Volunteer Generation Fund support from Serve Illinois , Hannah has worked with 25 colleagues throughout the state to enhance their use of the proven

Voting Rights, Election Laws, and the Courts

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist Now that the dust has settled from the 2020 elections, state and federal stakeholders are now reflecting and proposing policy changes to laws concerning voting and election laws . While some frame these current and societal issues around voting rights, others are framing new legislation around election security. Inevitably, courts will play a role in settling essential questions around the constitutionality of these endeavors. Dr. Steven D. Schwinn , professor of law at the John Marshall Law School at UIC, recently joined the Illinois Civics Hub for a webinar on Voting Rights, Election Laws, and the Courts to give a historical perspective on the Voting Rights Act, discuss current cases before the court and proposed state and federal legislation. If you missed the webinar, you can access a recording on the Illinois Civics Webinar Archive and this folder of resources shared by Dr. Schwinn . The Illinois Civics course requirements

Schoolwide Commitment to Civic Learning

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by Sue Khalaieff, Democracy Schools Network Manager The seventh session of the Civics Across the Curriculum webinar series was held on Thursday, March 18, 2021. This year’s theme builds on the theme from the originally scheduled Democracy Schools Network Spring 2020 convening, “Every Teacher is a Civics Teacher: Best Practices for Civic Learning and Organizational Supports.” View a recording of the session. The program featured Grayslake Central High School staff members from various departments, sharing the many ways that they have managed to bring civics into their classrooms and curricula. Jason Janczak, Social Studies Department Chair Georgia Brown, Social Studies teacher Brian Centella, Life Fitness teacher Jim Plaza, Social Studies teacher Lora Ciferri, Math teacher Jason Janczak began the presentation by laying out goals of the Democracy School team for improving the civic health of their school: Fully embrace the “Portrait of the Graduate, a part of the sc

Honoring Women’s History Month with Service Learning

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist One of the proven practices embedded in the Illinois middle and high school course requirements that educators find most daunting is service learning. Educators often equate service learning with volunteerism or community service that requires field trip budgets, transportation, and issues of equity. Service learning , when done well, provides all students the opportunity to apply learning to address issues that matter to them, reaching authentic audiences in their school, local, state, national, and/or global community. It gives all students an opportunity to “do civics” and build social capital while practicing their civic capacities. The Illinois Democracy Schools Network recently hosted a webinar where three teachers from various regions of the Land of Lincoln shared their journey to incorporate service learning into their classroom practice to facilitate informed action connected to the curriculum. Each of these educators

Lessons Learned from the 2020 Election

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist A little over a year ago, we were living our last week of pre-pandemic life without even knowing it. Civics classrooms were in the midst of processing the results of Super Tuesday and speculating who would come out on top in the contest for the Democratic nomination. Little did we know the roller-coaster ride we were in for in the race for the White House and control of Congress. While the 2020 elections are in our rear-view mirror, there are lessons to be learned as we look to the future. This week, Dr. Shawn P. Healy, Senior Director of State Policy and Advocacy for iCivics returned to Illinois Civics to lead a webinar that reflected on the institutions that support elections, the current two-party system, and calls for reform regarding election security and access to the ballot. View a recording on the Illinois Civics Webinar Archive page. The Illinois Civics Instructional Coaches share ways they are engaging their student

Facilitate Students to take the L.E.A.D. with Service Learning

by Sue Khalaieff, Democracy Schools Network Manager The sixth session of the Civics Across the Curriculum webinar series was held on Thursday, March 4, 2021. This year’s theme builds on the theme from the originally scheduled Democracy Schools Network Spring 2020 convening, “Every Teacher is a Civics Teacher: Best Practices for Civic Learning and Organizational Supports.” View a recording of the session. The program featured Dr. John Bierbaum, Normal West Community High School; Barbara Lindauer, Collinsville High School; and Gwynne Ryan, Maine West High School. It was facilitated by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist, Illinois Civics Hub. The presentation began with a very concise definition of Service Learning as “action informed by the curriculum.” This basic trait makes it easily distinguishable from Community Service and included an acknowledgement that there is a place and value for both in our schools. An expanded description (using the acronym, L.E.A.D.

The Redistricting Game

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist Last year, civics classrooms around the country used the 2020 census as a teachable moment to engage students in the proven practices of civic education embedded in the Illinois civics course requirements. The Census 2020 Toolkit provided materials for students to engage in inquiry around essential questions related to power, representation, and justice with resources to direct instruction on democratic institutions, simulations, deliberations, and service learning ideas for students to encourage their community to participate in “making their community count.” In 2021, reapportionment takes center stage as Illinois faces the probable loss of one Congressional seat and new leadership in the General Assembly takes over the process of redistricting. To help #CivicsInTheMiddle classrooms understand the current and societal issue of redistricting, Illinois Civics hosted a webinar featuring Liliana Scales from CHANGE Illinois, a non

A Roadmap for Educating for American Democracy

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist “a lady asked Dr. Franklin well Doctor what we got a republic or a monarchy— A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it. The lady here aluded [sic] to was Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia” Diary Entry from James McHenry, September 18, 1787 The famous vignette above was captured by James McHenry, an Irish immigrant who served as an aide to both Washington and Lafayette during the American Revolution and as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention from Maryland. He recorded this exchange in his diary one day after the conclusion of the Convention. Franklin’s words are still relevant today as “we the people” strive “to keep” our constitutional republic. Civic education plays an important role in “keeping” our republic and working towards a “more perfect union” as explained in the excerpt from the 2011 Guardian of Democracy: The Civic Mission of Schools report. Self-government requires far more than voting in election

Civic Online Reasoning Across the Curriculum

by Sue Khalaieff, Democracy Schools Network Manager The fifth session of the Civics Across the Curriculum webinar series was held on Thursday, February 18, 2021. This year’s theme builds on the theme from the originally scheduled Democracy Schools Network Spring 2020 convening, “Every Teacher is a Civics Teacher: Best Practices for Civic Learning and Organizational Supports.” View a recording of the session . In order to better understand and address their students’ civic online reasoning skills, a team of teachers from Neuqua Valley High School partnered with the Stanford History Education Group (SHEG). SHEG is an award-winning research and development group that comprises Stanford faculty, staff, graduate students, post-docs, and visiting scholars; they seek to improve education by conducting research, working with school districts, and reaching directly into classrooms with free materials for teachers and students. They have created a Civic Online Reasoning curriculum to help s

Impeachment and SCOTUS Update

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist This week, the eyes of the nation turned to the Senate as the impeachment trial for former President Donald J. Trump began. Student questions about power, process, justice, free speech, and sedition are sure to emerge as the proceedings continue over the next weeks. Dr. Steven D. Schwinn , Professor of Law at John Marshall Law School at the University of Illinois-Chicago joined Illinois Civics for a webinar this week to help address questions many classrooms have over this second impeachment trial. Dr. Schwinn also provided an update on the current Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) term with cases for classrooms to watch that address free association and freedom of speech. If you missed the webinar, a recording is available in the Webinar Archives . The Illinois Civics Instructional Coaches share their favorite resources to teach about SCOTUS: Jason Artman from Mendota shares, “ PBS Learning Media has a number of les

Simulations of Democratic Processes: Do This, Not That!

The fourth session of the Civics Across the Curriculum (CAC) webinar series was held on Thursday, February 4, 2021. This year’s theme builds on the theme from the originally scheduled Democracy Schools Network Spring 2020 convening, “Every Teacher is a Civics Teacher: Best Practices for Civic Learning and Organizational Supports.” If you missed the session, view a recording . The program featured Candace Fikis, Social Studies Teacher at West Chicago Community High School and Logan Ridenour, CTE and Social Studies Teacher at Dupo Jr./Sr. High School. It was facilitated by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist for the Illinois Civics Hub. The presenters provided an examination of the various factors that contribute to the success of classroom simulations. The first of these factors is the creation of a safe and respectful space for this kind of activity. As students are often venturing a bit out of their comfort zone with simulations, having this kind of environment in p

Making the Most of Discussion Boards

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by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist Facilitating opportunities for student to student discussions can be challenging in the best of circumstances. During the pandemic, teachers have had to reimagine protocols to facilitate current and societal issue discussions in remote, hybrid, and socially-distanced classrooms. Many Learning Management Systems (LMS) provide discussion boards as a means to facilitate asynchronous dialogue. Like any good lesson plan, great discussion boards rarely “just happen.” They take planning and intention to work. If your discussion boards in the past “fell flat,” here are tips to help you revisit this tool. If your discussion board game is strong, perhaps there is an idea or two to enhance your current practice. Engage Student Voice in Creating Discussion Board Norms Many students regularly engage in online dialogue, but your expectations for academic discussion will most likely be different than norms employed on TikTok and Instagram. Y