Showing posts from April, 2021

Service Learning Connects Revolutionary War to the Present

by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist The Illinois Social Science standards support classroom learning that connects the past to the present with enduring understandings and essential questions to harness disciplinary content. Knowledge becomes relevant when students can connect it to their own lived experiences and communities. Having a clear notion of the “why” of social studies gives context to understanding our nation’s history, including the founding principles that guide our republic. Corie Yow, an Illinois Civics Instructional Coach and sixth grade social studies teacher at Ball-Chatham CUSD #5, used a recent unit on the Revolutionary War to engage her students in exploring the essential question, “How can your voice be heard to make positive change?” Taking inspiration from the founders, Corie’s students identified modern issues related to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and used service learning to take informed action. Corie is one of 26 ed

Proposed Revisions to Illinois Social Science Standards

by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist The Illinois State Board of Education recently released proposed revisions to the Illinois Social Science standards in grade K-12 . The changes were created by a committee of educators representing the diversity of the Land of Lincoln under the leadership of Elizabeth Hiler, Principle Consultant of Social Science and Erica Thieman, Director Of K-12 Curriculum and Instruction at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE). While Illinois Civics Hub (ICH) did not participate in these standards revisions, the ICH is hosting a two feedback sessions for educators to discuss the revisions and take informed action to create the best document possible before public comment ends on May 24th, 2021. Participants will complete a guided review of the proposed revisions pre-webinar and then work in affinity groups to discuss, reflect and provide comments to ISBE. Illinois Civics Hub has created a google document for each grade band, placin

Service Learning Prepares Pre-Service Candidates for Powerful Social Studies

by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist The Illinois Civics requirements in both middle and high school have created a need for colleges and universities to iterate their current curriculum to prepare pre-service candidates for the classroom. Dr. Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz, social science teaching coordinator and an associate professor of history at Eastern Illinois University, engaged her students in an inquiry this semester around the essential question, “How can we create powerful social studies for all learners?” This inquiry-based curriculum prepared students to design their own inquiry unit that reflected the proven practices of civic education embedded in the course requirements including current and controversial issue discussions and service learning. Bonnie, an Illinois Civics Instructional Coach , is one of 26 educators participating in the Guardians of Democracy Microcredential Program with Volunteer Generation Fund support from Serve Illinois to facilitate

How Congress Works

by Mary Ellen Daneels, Civics Instructional Specialist How a Bill Becomes Law from Schoolhouse Rock is always a favorite for classrooms when kicking off instruction on the legislative process. While the video’s catching tune and lyrics are engaging, it is what is “in between the lines” of the song that really helps students understand how congress works. Dr. Charles Flanagan , Outreach Supervisor for the Center for the Legislative Archives , recently partnered with the Illinois Civics Hub to host a webinar to demystify the legislative process. A powerful lesson was shared to illustrate the process of how a bill becomes a law and analyze historic congressional documents to identify what happens at each step along the way. Participants also engaged with resources that have students collaborate to complete an oversized board game/flowchart. Access a recording on our Webinar Archives . The National Archives is one of the dozens of civic learning partners committed to providing Illinois e

Service Learning to Commemorate Holocaust Rememberence Day

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

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