2018 National Law Related Education Conference

Free speech, in this era of ongoing partisan rancor, has never been more important. The theme of this year’s National Law Related Education Conference (a project of the American Bar Association) is, in fact, that idea of free speech. What is it, and why does it matter? As educators, especially as civic educators, these are questions, this is a theme, that matters to us. If you have the opportunity, please consider submitting a proposal to the upcoming conference. The call for proposals is below, but you can also learn more here. 


Be sure to also check out the great resources of our partners in civic education, like the ABA, shared through the Civics Renewal Network!

20th Annual Literacy Symposium at UCF

Lit Symposium

Dear Florida Educators,

You are invited to the 20th Annual Literacy Symposium that will take place on April 6, 2018 at the University of Central Florida, College of Education & Human Performance!

This year’s them is: Celebrate the Power of Literacy to Transform Lives—our students’ and teachers’ lives as well as our schools, families, and communities.

Learn about: effective literacy instruction for all students, how to engage the disengaged readers, the role of socio-emotional learning in literacy, strengthening vocabulary and comprehension across content areas, motivating students with quality texts, how to create a culture of literacy at schools, supporting school-wide literacy initiatives, differentiated instruction, meeting the needs of diverse learners, and digital literacies, to name a few.

To register, visit:


For more information about the event, please contact Melissa Mitchell, Event Assistant (Melissa.Mitchell@ucf.edu) or Dr. Vicky Zygouris-Coe, Event Committee Chair (vzygouri@ucf.edu).

Legal Issue: LFI/FJCC Resources and Teachers Pay Teachers


Friends, we are sure that you are familiar with the wonderful website ‘Teachers Pay Teachers’. We here at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute are big fans of teachers offering to share their skills and creativity to a broader audience, and making some well-deserved money along the way. That being said, we have encountered a situation that we would like to bring to your attention.

Recently, we received word from a teacher that some of the resources being sold for a profit on Teachers Pay Teachers looked awfully familiar.  Upon further investigation, it has come to our attention that there are a number of teachers selling free FJCC/LFI curricular materials (lesson plans, worksheets, and assessment items, among others) on Teachers Pay Teachers. We are currently evaluating the magnitude of the issue, but we know enough to be certain that it is not isolated. In this context, it is important for us to underscore the fact that although our instructional materials bear a Lou Frey Institute copyright, it is actually the University of Central Florida that ultimately owns the intellectual property. This means that we have an ethical and legal responsibility to notify the University General Counsel’s office that our materials are being offered on “Teachers pay Teachers”. Once that is done, it will create a potential liability ranging from minor to not so minor for the teachers whose names are associated with the sale of copyrighted materials. We would note as well that a not-insignificant number of teachers are selling iCivics curricular materials as their own on Teachers Pay Teachers. The folks at iCivics, who work so hard to create quality resources as well, are likely to share our own concerns about this issue.

We would ask those teachers who have posted these resources for sale on Teachers Pay Teachers or other similiar sites withdraw these from the market immediately, before we find it necessary to involve UCF General Counsel and file an infringement notice with Teachers Pay Teachers. We would suggest the same for those folks posting iCivics resources. After April 15, we will be moving to involve UCF General Counsel on this, a step we are reluctant to take. However, we feel as though we have little choice. 

The Institute goes to great – and sometimes painful –  lengths to produce the funding that permits and sustains the distribution of free instructional materials for Florida teachers. Although the path is different, we know that iCivics does as well. If we find that we cannot control the resale market, we fear that we will have no option but to reluctantly reconsider how we approach the ways in which we provide instructional support materials. We hope to avoid this, as it would impact teachers and students across the state.

We hate that we have had to write this post and make this request, but we feel it is necessary. Our resources are intended to be freely available, and we would like to continue on that path. Thank you so much for your help on this.

You are invited to the 2018 Urban Education Leadership Summit at UCF!

Central Florida Urban Education Leadership Summit_Official Flyer

Friends, it is with great pleasure that we invite you to join educators, politicians, students, and community leaders from across Florida and beyond at the upcoming 2018 Urban Education Leadership Summit here at UCF on April 12th, 2018. The featured keynote, Dr. Pedro Noguera, was recently featured on MSNBC, discussing the teacher walkouts in West Virginia and Oklahoma, as well as the recent events around Florida schools. Check out his TED talk from 2012 to get a sense of our wonderful keynote.

Panels and discussions will focus on ways in which we as educators can drive school and student improvement in urban schools. I have no doubt that it will be an engaging, exciting, and lively series of conversations!

You can register for this event here, and if you have questions, please feel free to contact Dr. Amanda Wilkerson!

Thank you! Civics360 Videos Reach a Half-Million Views!

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The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute has spent more than a year working on the current iteration of Civics360. While less than ten benchmarks still need a video resource, we have completed and shared on Civics360 more than 60 videos across the other benchmarks (with many having multiple videos to ensure that the content is not overwhelming). Looking at the statistics today on TeacherTube (our upload platform for the videos), these videos, most of which have been up for barely a year 9 and in many cases far less than that) have hit more than a half a million views!

We are grateful for the teachers, students, and parents that have found these videos and Civics360 itself useful as a tool for learning, and we look forward to improving on what is available over the next year. We expect to have the remaining videos done in the coming months, and will then work on uploading scripts, cleaning up resources, and redoing portions of 360 and the videos based on your valuable feedback!

You can get a comprehensive overview of Civics360 by reviewing this post, and be sure to register today!

Questions, comments, suggestions, and critiques about anything concerning Civics360 can be directed to Dr. Steve Masyada, FJCC at LFI Director.

The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute has joined the Civics Renewal Network!


You may have noticed a new logo, similiar to what is above this post, appearing on the FJCC homepage. That is a sign of some exciting news! The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship is excited to announce that our parent organization, the Lou Frey Institute, was recently welcomed as a member of the Civics Renewal Network! 


The Civics Renewal Network is a resource-sharing network made up of civics education organizations from across the country. The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute is currently in the process of curating some of our quality resources to share on the CRN website, and we look forward to sharing and posting the resources of other civics education folks across all of our platforms! We are excited to be a member of this consortium, and look forward to sharing with you some of the quality work being done across the country!

Women’s History Month: Shirley Chisholm, Trailblazer


What does it mean to be involved? How can we make a difference in the lives of those who depend on us, and in the lives of those who seek only to have a voice? Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to Congress, asked these questions. In addition to being the first African-American woman elected to Congress, she also ran for the Democratic nomination for President in 1972.


Her ‘Unbought and Unbossed’ campaign, while unsuccessful stands as a challenge to those who would sacrifice ideals for power, and stands even now as an example for those women and African-Americans who would follow in her footsteps.

You can learn more about Congresswoman Chisholm at the National Women’s History Museum. The Smithsonian Magazine also has an excellent piece on her presidential campaign. 

PPT Slide for Shirley Chisholm


2018 Florida Council for the Social Studies Conference Call for Proposals

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The Florida Council for the Social Studies, a Gold Star Council, is pleased to announce that proposals are now requested for the 61st annual conference, to be held at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center, October 19-21, 2018. The theme of this years conference centers around the importance of diversity and inclusion within the social studies at all levels of teaching and learning. We are looking for exciting and engaging sessions that will provide teachers with something they will be able to reflect on and use in their classrooms, and we know you have a great session that you are dying to share!

You can submit your proposal here. And you can find more information about this year’s conference at the FCSS website!

We believe we have a fantastic keynote lined up that we will be able to announce soon, and look forward to providing our teachers with some excellent and exciting sessions!

If you wish to sponsor or exhibit at the conference, you can complete the form here.

Questions about sponsorship or exhibits can be directed to Dr. Steve Masyada (stephen.masyada@ucf.edu) or Ms. Peggy Renihan (Peggy.Renihan@fcss.org).

We hope to see you join us!


Student Civic Engagement Today


Today, around the country, students from Kindergarten through higher education are engaged in protests concerning gun violence. However one feels about the issues being debated, students assuming the rights and responsibilities of democratic citizenship  in their communities is something to celebrate. What students are doing today is consistent with our nation’s recent and not so recent  history of young people becoming engaged in their communities and learning the skills of citizenship and civic life.  Let’s consider just a few examples.

Running for Governor in Kansas

In Kansas, which has no age restriction on becoming governor, six teenagers are running for the position, and are running serious campaigns around issues. And their political persuasions run across the spectrum, a mix of conservatism, liberalism, and libertarianism.

Being engaged in the issues, aware of the rules and requirements for office, and taking action to pursue change are not inherently conservative or liberal civic virtues. These young people are engaged in civic action in their state because they saw a need and decided to try and fill it.

Birmingham Children’s March

The Birmingham Children’s March involved more than 1000 kids skipping classes all across Birmingham and marching in favor of civil rights, despite threats and violence perpetrated by people far older than them.  And they swore to continue doing it until change was on the horizon. They modeled for their fellow citizens the better angels of our nature and stood strong in the face of adult persecution and violation of their civil liberties.

Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)

‘Students do not shed their rights at the schoolhouse door.’ A legendary decision, arising as a result of 13 year olds protesting a war they saw as unjust. Indeed, the Tinker decision, and the actions of those students involved in that case, have in some ways inspired the movement today., with the Parkland students citing the Tinker case as something they learned about that helped show what can happen when students become civically engaged.

The Pro-Life/Pro-Choice Movements, Gun Rights, Student Busing, Black Lives Matter, and the ERA

Ongoing debates about controversial civic, political, and societal issues have always involved students, on both sides. Whether arguing and protesting over abortion, pointing out that there are is not uniformity among young people in the gun debate, wading knee deep into the disputes about busing students across northern cities like Boston to integrate schools, marching in the streets in defense of black lives and liberties, or taking sides for or against the Equal Rights Amendment, student civic activism is something that has always been an important pathway into civic life for young people. It is their first taste of the possibilities of civic life and fervor, and encouraging young people to engage with those possibilities can only strengthen the core of American democracy.




Women’s History Month: Elizabeth McCullough Johnson

WHM Johnson

Elizabeth McCullough Johnson is an important figure in Florida civics, government, and history. She was the second woman elected to the Florida House, and the first women ever elected to the Florida State Senate. For those of us who live and work in the central Florida area, she is also an incredibly important figure because she is in many ways the mother of our University of Central Florida, the largest (at last count, by population) public university in the country.

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You can learn more about Senator Johnson at Florida Memory.

PowerPoint Slides:
Senator Johnson of FL