An Important Update on FJCC’s Civics360 Resource

360

The benchmark pages on the Escambia Civics Review Site will be redirected to Civics360.  This changeover will occur around the Thanksgiving break. This will impact your favorites and bookmarks if you have saved Escambia Civics Review Site benchmark pages in your browser. 

Good afternoon, friends. As you are likely aware, the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute launched Civics360 around summer of this year. Civics360 is intended to build on the resources that were provided by the Escambia County Civics Review site, and the response has been tremendous. More than 35,000 student accounts, and thousands of teacher accounts, have been made in Florida and beyond, and we continue to add resources. The following topic areas have been completed in their entirety, meaning that all video, reading, and vocabulary tools are done:

  • Citizen You
  • Florida State and Local Government
  • The Legal System
  • The US and the World

Other topic areas are partially complete, and we have about 13 benchmarks left to complete (for example, I am working on the video(s) for Benchmark SS.7.C.3.3 now!). We have also started compiling the scripts for hard of hearing students and are uploading them as we finish them. Once that all is complete, we will go back and tweak and modify and improve the resources we have. Thank you for all of your input and feedback on Civics360, and remember that you can direct questions to Dr. Steve Masyada, FJCC director.

It is also important that everyone is aware that the benchmark pages on the Escambia Civics Review Site will be redirected to Civics360.  This changeover will occur around the Thanksgiving break. This will impact your favorites and bookmarks if you have saved Escambia Civics Review Site benchmark pages in your browser. 

If you have not yet done so, I encourage you to make sure you register yourself, and have your students register, at Civics360. It is always free and it is easy. 

Thank you for your help and support for the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship! 


American Founders’ Month in Florida: John Adams

Sept 12 J Adams

John Adams remains one of the most fascinating of the Founders. A passionate patriot and one of the earliest supporters of American independence from Great Britain, he nevertheless felt it important to provide legal defense to those British soldiers accused of crimes as a result of the Boston Massacre.

“The Part I took in Defence of Cptn. Preston and the Soldiers, procured me Anxiety, and Obloquy enough. It was, however, one of the most gallant, generous, manly and disinterested Actions of my whole Life, and one of the best Pieces of Service I ever rendered my Country. Judgment of Death against those Soldiers would have been as foul a Stain upon this Country as the Executions of the Quakers or Witches, anciently. As the Evidence was, the Verdict of the Jury was exactly right.” 

His rivalry with his colleague and once-and-future-friend Thomas Jefferson is also a fascinating aspect of the ‘strange bedfellows’ relationships that were necessary in the pursuit of America independence.

Check out the National Humanities Center’s activity on Adams and leadership here to get a sense of who this Founder was and how he influenced our nation.

Grab the PowerPoint slide featured in this post: John Adams AFM

And if you are so inclined, check out this humorous but realistic and passionate take on the patriot John Adams, from 1776.

 

Additional entries in the American Founders’ Month series:
Introduction to the Founding Fathers
Who Was George Washington?
Abigail Adams: Founding Mother and so much more
James Madison: Father of the Constitution


Take the #CivXNow Pledge!

CivX
Next week, the Lou Frey Institute, in collaboration with our friends at iCivics, the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, and the Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts, is excited to host the upcoming ‘Democracy at a Crossroads’ Civic Education Summit in Washington, DC. With generous support from the Carnegie Corporation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the McCormick Foundation, civic education leaders from across the country will get together with influential individuals in politics, government, business, and society to discuss why civics matters, and why it demands attention.

What is really exciting is that the success that Florida has had in civic education, thanks to the work of its teachers and growing out of the Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Education Act, will be highlighted on center stage!

If you are so inclined, consider taking the pledge to help our young people learn the civic skills and develop the civic dispositions so necessary in this 21st century America!


Teaching the Constitution with Political Cartoons

September 13, 2017, 7-8 p.m. ET

refer to captionAnyone Home? Cartoon by Clifford Berryman, 2/24/1920

Join the Center for Legislative Archives to discover how to use political cartoons to teach about the United States Constitution. This webinar will draw from the collection of Clifford K. Berryman cartoons from the U.S. Senate Collection. Berryman’s career as a political cartoonist in Washington, DC, spanned five decades and his cartoons are a rich resource for history and civics lessons.

During this interactive webinar, you will practice techniques for helping students evaluate visual content and explore ideas for how to use political cartoons to illustrate the “Big Ideas” of the Constitution, such as separation of powers and representative democracy. You will also explore additional resources from the National Archives for integrating political cartoons in the classroom, such as DocsTeach.org. This webinar is designed for middle school and high school educators. Register for the webinar here.

 

Information about other upcoming webinars offered by our friends at the National Archives is available here! Check it out today.


A New School Year with FJCC

Well, it is another school year, and we here at the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute wish teachers everywhere a great start to the year. In this post, you will find a compilation of the resources that we have to offer as you start the new year. If you have any questions about these resources, please feel free to shoot me an email! 

Civics360

Civics360 is our newest resource, and we continue to add to it. Some of you may be familiar with the Escambia Civics Review Site; Civics360 replaces that site. So what does Civics360 bring to the table?

Student Friendly Readings in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole and Reading Guides in English
We now have the Student Friendly Readings in three languages, and a reading guide in English that can help students with their understanding, crafted with the help of literacy experts from UCF. 
readings

New Student Friendly Videos
We have a collection of new videos, ranging between 5 and 10 minutes long or so, that break down the content into easy to understand visuals and text. We have also included video guides to aid in understanding. Please note that currently half of the benchmarks have videos; we are working hard to complete the remaining benchmarks!

videos1

Additional New Features
Additional new features include new vocabulary tools, digital quizzes, a brand new practice assessment that provides you with student reports, and more.

Civics360 does require registration, but it is 100% free. Be sure to check it out!

Florida Citizen

Our main website at Florida Citizen has a number of resources that you could find useful. Of course we have our traditional lesson plans for the middle school civics course. These lesson plans are all aligned to the benchmarks and benchmark clarifications, and include content elaboration for the teacher, relevant vocabulary, and a step by step walk through of instruction.
We also have Students Investigating Primary Sources. This series of lessons for grades 2-12, developed in collaboration with the National Archives, provide students an opportunity to ‘play’ with primary sources around relevant topics aligned with Florida history, civics, and government benchmarks. You can learn more about the SIPS lessons here. 

sips page 2

We have not forgotten elementary teachers. Our Civics in a Snap lessons cover each of the K-5 elementary benchmarks, and take 15-20 minutes to work through. They are also aligned with relevant LAFS benchmarks. You can learn more about the Civics in a Snap lessons here. 

3.c.2.1

We have a number of additional resources available on Florida Citizen, including the first three parts of our ongoing webinar series. Be sure to visit Florida Citizen and register for access to the free resources today!

Questions about any of our websites or resources can be directed to Dr. Steve Masyada at FJCC! Hope to hear from you soon!


A New Approach for FJCC

challenge

As folks are likely aware at this point, funding for the Lou Frey Institute was vetoed by Governor Scott. The work of the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship falls under the umbrella of LFI, so obviously the loss of funding is, for us, significant. While we continue to work on grants and other opportunities to raise funds (and still seeking some sort of university or legislative solution), this sudden turn of events means some changes in our work.

To be clear, the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute will continue to support teachers, schools, and districts to the best of our ability. Our curricular resources will not go away; indeed, we continue to refine and improve and expand what we have. The Florida Citizen website will be getting new materials later this year around action civics, high school government, and, perhaps, Florida’s new legislatively mandated Founders Month. Development and improvement on Civics360 continues; we have just added four new videos around benchmark 4.3 for example. We are working on an update to the Florida’s Civic Health website as well.

As needed and as possible, we will strive to meet face to face PD requests; however, we may not longer be able to respond in the affirmative to all requests, thanks to a vastly reduced travel budget. HOWEVER, we do have some exciting news that has arisen out of that unfortunate circumstance. The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute is beginning the transition towards becoming an online professional development provider!

Currently, we are collaborating internally on developing a Canvas-based set of interactive modules (we hesitate to call it a course) targeting new teachers and what they need to know for teaching civics. We will be piloting this effort with a small number of districts for now; lessons learned from this will guide the next iteration and allow us to open it up to more folks. We also plan on offering additional data, content, and pedagogy oriented modules as we move forward. We have also just completed a new online narrated support PowerPoint around interpreting data that we will be posting for you within the next week!

We are incredibly excited by this new direction. Sometimes, what seems like disaster can simply be turned into a challenge. And that is true in this case. We have had to ask the question about how we can do more with even less, and we have high hopes and expectations that offering support online, with the same excellent staff you are used to, is a way to overcome that challenge. This Canvas-based approach will always involve the opportunity for questions, collaboration, and communication with the FJCC team.

Again, we will continue to support you to the best of our ability. The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute is not going anywhere in the short term. We are simply going to follow a new path in supporting the work that wonderful teachers do in civic education.

We are always open to questions or suggestions, so please feel free to contact us at any time! 


Civics in Florida: Two Good Articles

Recently, two retired and significant political leaders here in Florida addressed the issues facing civic education in the state. Don Gaetz, former Florida Senate President, writes on why civic education matters:

Recently I had coffee with an impressive high school junior and her mother. The young lady doesn’t share my politics but she spilled over with excitement to attend American Legion Girls State, a practical experience in how government works. She couldn’t wait to dive into mock legislating and she already knew the issues cold. She’s not looking for a career in politics but she wants to know how to make things better. Florida needs a few million like her.

Our young people need to be able to develop the civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions of citizenship. The focus is not molding little Democrats or little Republicans, little conservatives or little liberals. It is on, as Mr. Gaetz says, helping kids learn ‘how to make things better.’

On those same lines, legendary former Florida governor and Senator Bob Graham penned a piece advocating that Florida continue its positive work around civic education.

In 2014, the first year of testing, 61 percent of Florida students enrolled in seventh-grade civics scored at or above a level of proficiency. This compared favorably to the National Assessment of Educational Progress results, also known as the nation’s report card, in which only 23 percent of American eighth-grade students were deemed to be proficient in civics. NAEP is the most comparable assessment available; 2014 was the last year the exam was given. And things were even better in 2017 when 69 percent of Florida seventh-graders tested proficient or better. Students whose teachers used Joint Center instructional materials scored almost 25 percent higher than other students.

Senator Graham argues that civic education support is worth funding, and while the focus is on the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship at the Lou Frey Institute, ultimately, Florida is a model for civic education, and to keep moving forward, we must pay attention and serve as advocates. And isn’t that the whole point of civic education? Advocate for our selves as citizens, as members of our communities, and as residents of this great and this great nation.

Please do consider reading the two articles from Gaetz and Graham, and if you are interested in supporting the work of the Lou Frey Institute and FJCC in Florida, please consider a donation or even just writing a letter. And thank you for being passionate and engaged members of the civic community!


The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship Needs Your Help!

Please Donate Now If You Can Help!

vetoed
The Governor recently vetoed all funding for the Lou Frey Institute, the parent organization for the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, Civics360 and the Partnership for Civic Learning.

Did you Know?

  • Teachers that use FJCC curriculum resources have seen an increase in assessment scores by 25%.
  • Last year, FJCC staff delivered face-to-face professional development to over 1,000 civics teachers.
  • Since August 2016, FJCC staff supported over 5,000 teacher accounts and over 94,000 hours of online civic learning for middle school students.
  • Since March 2017, Civics360 was launched and has provided civics instruction and resources to over 20,000 civics students

Please help us so that we can continue supporting Florida’s, and the nation’s, teachers and students. Questions can be sent to me at any time! 

Please Donate Now If You Can Help!


Preparing students for civic life

A question that has recently been on my mind as I work on book chapters around helping English language learners with civic learning is the question of teaching for citizenship. Certainly, one of the key goals of the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship is preparing students to be citizens. It is, after all, in our name. But on reflection, perhaps we should consider that we are going deeper than that. We are, instead, preparing students for civic life. Not all of the students we seek to reach are citizens, after all. At the same time, the knowledge, skills, and dispositions we want children to develop should be practiced long before they are able to assume the rights and duties of citizenship anyway. Key here is the idea that civic life is more than simply voting or serving on juries, both of which are rightly and justly limited to citizens of the United States. But what does it mean to prepare students for civic life, to truly help them understand what it means to engage in their communities and to seek to be a difference-maker?

Before we begin considering that question, it needs to be stated plainly that what we are discussing here is a not a question of liberal or conservative. Instead, it is a question of doing what you think is right and necessary for the civic life of your community. Civic life should not be centered around partisan warfare; rather, it should be centered around true discussion, collaboration, and the common good as our Founding Fathers understood it. As one of my personal heroes, John Adams, so eloquently put it in the Constitution of the great state of Massachusetts:

Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men: Therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require it.

So, in preparing students for civic life, what should we be addressing? The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools has suggested that the focus be on civic competencies that have stood the test of time and reflect the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary for civic life in the 21st century United States of America. Today’s post will discuss the first competency, knowledge; later posts will dive into the skills and dispositions, the Six Proven Practices, and the new(ish) C3 FrameworkC3 Framework and how that might serve us as civic educators.

Civic Knowledge: Starting With a Foundation

You have to start somewhere. For us, civic life must be built on a foundation that reflects what came before. You cannot engage in civic life and the pursuit of the common good if you have no or little knowledge of history, civics, and government. The Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools describes the competency of civic knowledge thus:

Civic content includes both core knowledge and the ability to apply knowledge to different circumstances and settings.

  • Key historical periods, episodes, cases, themes, and experiences of individuals and groups in U.S. history
  • Principles, documents, and ideas essential to constitutional democracy
  • Relationship between historical documents, principles, and episodes and contemporary issues
  • Structures, processes, and functions of government; powers of branches and levels of government
  • Political vehicles for representing public opinion and effecting political change
  • Mechanisms and structure of the U.S. legal system
  • Relationship between government and other sectors
  • Political and civic heroes
  • Social and political networks for making change
  • Social movements and struggles, particularly those that address issues as yet unresolved
  • Structural analyses of social problems and systemic solutions to making change

In other words, to effectively participate civic life, we must have an understanding of what came before. It means understanding the decisions that our Founding Fathers made, and the roots and consequences of those decisions. Why, for example, did they decide on the Electoral College? How did the party system develop? What kinds of issues have those seeking to lead, organize, or participate in civic life had to deal with over the course of our two and a half century history?

It also requires that we be able to interpret the key documents that have shaped civic life and civil society in the United States. This includes the Magna Carta, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the later amendments to the Constitution, and even the Articles of Confederation (among so many others). Important within this understanding is being able to grasp the different ways these documents have been interpreted in the past and continue to be debated in the present. For example, what do we mean when we say and debate the idea that Constitution is a living document? At the same time, we cannot know our rights, truly know and practice our rights, unless we understand them. And that rights are balanced by responsibilities and the importance of civic virtue and the common good.

To participate in civic life, we also need to understand how government works and how to take part in that government. This is more than simply voting; this is active engagement with fellow citizens and leaders in order to pursue change using the processes of government. And, again, we need note have a partisan perspective on this. The Tea Party movement of the previous decade is one form; the civil rights marches of the past century are another. Both seek to influence the levers and powers of government to pursue political, economic, or social change. But to do so effectively, we must help our students understand how government works and what influences government to take, or not take, action.

The idea of heroes, as presented in the list proposed by the Campaign, is to me a bit problematic and can lead to rather contentious debate. What do we mean by ‘political and civic heroes’? One person’s hero may be another person’s villain (as we see in the contentious debate over Confederate monuments). That does not mean, however, that this is a discussion to avoid. Indeed, we may find this debate a way in which we can model for our students the ways in which disagreements should be approach in a healthy civic culture. Whatever the choice we make, our heroes should reflect the types of engagement we want our children to have in civic life.

For me, most importantly, helping our students understand that engaging in civic life CAN make a difference is key. What networks can we form, what understandings can we refine, in order engage in civic life and pursue the common good?

Knowledge Matters

To me, without the competency of civic knowledge, the skills and dispositions are, to some great degree, worthless. If you lack understanding, how can you collaborate to make change? How can you engage in civic life? This does not serve as a call for rote memorization or some multiple choice test; rather, we need to teach our students how to find the information they need, how they may use the skills they have to interpret it, and, reflecting the desires of folks like Benjamin Rush, Thomas Jefferson, Noah Webster, and later Horace Mann, a common understanding and body of knowledge that is shared among all participants in civic life.

In a later post, we will take a look at the skills that can take advantage of this knowledge.


Civics360: A New Resource for Civic Education

Good morning, friends in Civics. Over the past few years, teachers here in Florida and elsewhere in the United States have made heavy use of the Escambia Civics Review Site. We do believe that the partnership with Escambia County and the willingness of that district to host and share resources for teaching and learning has been beneficial for everyone. Over time, however, requests have been made and ideas contemplated about improvements that could be made to make that site even better. These requests and ideas include more student friendly videos, more helpful assessment tools, and resources for ESOL students and struggling readers. With that in mind, the Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, in partnership with Escambia County Schools,  is excited to announce the launching of a new Civics review site that will, later this summer, replace the currect Escambia Civics Review Site: Civics360. Civics360 is free to all registered users, much like our current Florida Citizen website. This site is now live and available for your use.

civics360 cover

So what are the new features you will find in Civics360? Take a look at the orientation video below, which walks you through the registration process, and read the rest of the post to learn about what we hope will be a useful resource for you and your students.

  • Multiple Student Friendly Readings for each assessed benchmark, available in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole

languages

  • English language reading guides for each Student Friendly Reading, developed with all levels of readers in mind

reading guide

  • Vocabulary Practice Worksheets that use Concept Circles to assist students with understanding key words from the benchmark

concept circles

  • A Quizlet tool for vocabulary practice and remediation

quizlet

  • Continually adding more new narrated student-oriented videos for each benchmark; please note that not every module currently has videos.

videosample

  • Video Viewing Guides for each new video to facilitate engagement

video guide

  • Online quiz practice within each module that reflect best practice in learning and assessment tools that facilitate engagement and retention. We have added clearer explanations and suggestions for reflection for every distractor in each question.

quizsample.JPG

  • Additional civic resources to facilitate learning and review

resourcessample

  • Organized into 9 Civics Focus Areas that reflect district pacing guides

topic areas

The new site also includes a 60 question practice assessment that reflects the actual EOC in structure and format. We also in the process of developing a version of that practice assessment that breaks the test into the 4 Reporting Categories so that teachers, and students, can use the assessment and their time more effectively.

practiceassessment sample

Be sure to check out the overview video, and if you have questions, comments, problems, or suggestions about Civics360 or the FJCC, please feel free to email me