September 15, 2020 (last update, September 21)
At Emerging America, we focus on resources for teachers of History, Social Studies, and Civics. On this regularly updated page, we feature resources for teachers of those subjects who are designing curriculum in the context of the pandemic, both for students learning from home, and for students navigating a changing environment no matter where teaching and learning happens. Please see the "Featured Resources" box below for notable new additions or timely highlights.
History's Mysteries K-5 Curriculum
The kids loved this! They were very interested in the slideshow the entire time. The narration made it seem like a movie. They asked a lot of thoughtful questions and had lots of good discussions. I liked that we had the flexibility to make it last as long or as short as they could handle. - First Grade Teacher
The 2020 Census launched in frozen Alaska this month. The occasion offers many ways to engage student interest and historical thinking.
We are preparing to teach an upcoming section of our course, Accessing Inquiry for English Learners through Primary Sources, and reflecting on what specialists in English language acquisition tell us about making history and social studies accessible.
In 2010, when Emerging America first focused on teaching strategies using primary sources to engage and support English Learners, we built the course content around immigration history, expanding the investigation to include the history of American communities that speak languages other than English. A key part of making curriculum accessible to all learners is teaching topics, concepts, and skills that are directly relevant to their lives. Not all English Learners are immigrants, of course. Yet many are, and today’s volatile politics of immigration impact all English Learners.
There is growing awareness among state policy makers that teaching Disability History is past due. California’s 2011 Fair Education Act included people with disabilities among groups whose history must be taught. Other states followed. In 2018, new Massachusetts History and Social Science Framework integrated several pivotal developments in disability history, from Dorothea Dix to the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act.
Facing the Crisis in Social Studies and Civics Education
Following years of decline in the teaching of History and Social Science, especially in grades K-5, and neglect of civics by schools at all grades, the Massachusetts Legislature and Board of Education each took decisive action in 2018. New state History and Social Science standards elevate civics in the context of inquiry-based Practice Standards, and the Civic Engagement Act mandates opportunities for civic action by all learners.
In 2020-2021, school districts across Massachusetts will fully implement student-led civic engagement projects in every 8th grade and every high school. Projects will occur as class assignments, but students may request the option to complete individual projects. Later in November, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) expects to announce a small grants program to support implementation.
A new lesson for high school students uses primary sources to engage students, including those whose reading levels may not yet be at grade level, in exploring the changes in policy in who is admitted to the United States.