Austin ISD Social Studies News

Vol. 29, February 2018

February is Black History Month!

The 2018 Theme, "African Americans in Times of War," commemorates the centennial of the end of the First World War in 1918. Some topics to consider focusing on: Tuskegee Airmen, Integration of the Armed Forces, and African American Soldiers in Vietnam.

There are a wide variety of resources available for social studies teachers to incorporate Black History into their classrooms. Here is a small selection of possible resources:

28 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month blog post from Scholastic includes ideas about music, literature, poetry, civil rights movement, science, and "firsts"

Black in the Past The Austin History Center proudly presents Black in the Past, one-minute vignettes depicting the stories of African Americans and the communities they built. Vignette topics highlight the events, places and people that characterize Black Austin, using historic photographs and documents from the archival holdings at the Austin History Center.

National African American History Month Browse ready-to-use lesson plans, student activities, collection guides and research aids.

EDSITEment's Guide to Black History Month Teaching Resources EDSITEment offers a revised and updated version of our Guide to Teaching Resources a comprehensive collection of free NEH-supported, vetted websites and EDSITEment-developed lessons on African American history and literature arranged roughly by historical period.

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Student Opportunities

Please share this opportunity with your students!

Austin Teens!

You are invited to the 22x20 Action Party, a free event happening on Wednesday February 7 from 6:30-8:30pm at 4548 Page St. (YAWP!) in Mueller. There you’ll meet, eat, game, and create critical videos, memes, and GIFs in response to the 2018 State of the Union address broadcast nationally on January 30. Together we will dissect the televised event through games and video remixing and collaborate to make critical, playful and impactful media to amplify your own ideas about local, national and global issues that matter to you. Plus free pizza and prizes! Teens 14+ and their families and educators are all welcome.

This party is one of several taking place in cities across the country as part of 22x20, a nonpartisan media literacy + civics campaign engaging the 22 million young people who will become eligible to vote by 2020. 22x20 aims to activate & facilitate youth voice and leadership in the democratic process. We’re equipping youth with nonpartisancivic and media literacy skills to consume, critique, and respond to political messages.

For more details and info, please email Jules Beesley at, visit, and read this Teen Vogue article.
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Austin ISD Learning Opportunities

SS HS Department Chair Meeting #3

When: February 6, 2018 from 1:00pm - 4:00 pm

Where: Baker

Who: Department Chairs and Social Studies Instructional Coaches

Sign up here


  • Welcome - Icebreaker - Announcements
  • Whole Child: Ethnic Studies Course Presentation
  • Technology: AISD Technology Design Coaches and the BLENDed Learning Summit
  • Community Partners: Resource Gallery Walk
  • Literacy: Structured Academic Controversy

The information and resources that we share at this meeting are valuable for every campus, so it's important for every department chair and instructional coach to attend. However, if the department chair is unable to attend, please find a representative for your campus to attend so that she/he can bring the learning and resources back to your campus.

I look forward to seeing you on February 6!

US History District-Wide PLC Meeting #3

When: February 6, 2018 from 9:00am - 12:00pm

Where: Baker

Who: US History teachers and teams from all high schools

Sign up here


  • Welcome - Icebreaker - Announcements
  • Example BLEND module: 1950s: A Decade of Prosperity and Conflict uses geography and statistics to challenge and support the traditional narrative of the 1950s
  • Unit and Lesson Planning
  • BLEND module vetting
  • Wrap-Up

Teacher Opportunities

NHC February Webinars

Register for these free webinars at:

Religious Literacy and Democratic Citizenship

Recommended for Geography, World History

Date: Thursday, February 8, 2018, 6:00–7:30 pm
Leader: Diane Moore, Director, Religious Literacy Project and the Certificate in Religious Studies and Education, Harvard Divinity School

Religions have functioned throughout human history to inspire and justify the full range of human agency from the heinous to the heroic. Their influences remain potent at the dawn of the 21st century in spite of modern predictions that religious influences would steadily decline in concert with the rise of secular democracies and advances in science. Understanding these complex religious influences is a critical dimension of understanding modern human affairs across the full spectrum of endeavors in local, national, and global arenas. In this webinar, participants will be introduced to a method for how to discern and analyze the power of religion in contemporary and historical contexts.

Listening to Literature, Hearing History

Recommended for U.S. History

Date: Tuesday, February 20, 2018, 6:00–7:30 pm
Leader: Mary Caton Lingold, Assistant Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University

Is literature a form of sound recording? If so, how can we listen to it? This webinar presents approaches for bringing the study of sound into the literature and history classroom. We will explore specifically how interpreting sounds in historical literature like slave narratives and colonial travel writing opens up new ways of understanding the American past, and specifically early African American experiences. The webinar also introduces a growing digital resource, The Sonic Dictionary, that is being created by university students to enhance the vocabulary of sonic experience.

Can a President Do That?: The Secret White House Tapes and Presidential Power

Recommended for U.S. History, Government

Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018, 6:00–7:30 pm
Leader: Kent Germany, Associate Professor of History, Director of Undergraduate studies, University of South Carolina

In the 20th century, the power of the United States president expanded enormously, and each president had to learn what kind of power they had and how far they needed to stretch the limits of it. This webinar will use the once top secret White House Tapes of JFK, LBJ, and Nixon to explore three crucial crises that shaped answers to the question, “Can a President Do That?” 1) the Cuban Missile Crisis; 2) the FBI, Surveillance, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Voting Rights Act; 3) Watergate and the Nixon's argument to David Frost that “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal.”

Confederate Monuments and Contested Civic Space in the United States

Recommended for U.S. History

Date: Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 6:00–7:30 pm

Leader: Fitzhugh Brundage, William B. Umstead Distinguished Professor; Department Chair, History, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill NHC Fellow 1995–96
Teacher Leader: Kevin Levin, Civil War historian and former history teacher

Confederate monuments are the most common form of monumental public art in the former states of the Confederacy and Kentucky. These monuments are one of the most conspicuous and contested markers of regional identity. Exploring how the monuments were funded, created and dedicated reveals important insights into how power, privilege, and identity inform the history that graces the built spaces and landscapes in which we live. Although the webinar will focus on Confederate monuments, the historical questions provoked by these monuments are equally relevant to the study of the commemoration of other historical events, from the “conquest” of the American West to the Vietnam War. This webinar will use easily accessible materials, from the immediate postwar era to the present day, on Confederate monuments to discuss the commemoration of the Confederacy, the Civil War, and the recent controversies regarding the monuments. When were the monuments erected and what were the stated intentions of the people who erected them? How were the designs for the monuments selected and who participated in the design process? What does the evolution of the design of the monuments tell us about the meanings assigned to the Civil War and the Confederacy? Why are there Confederate monuments in Washington state, Arizona, and other communities far beyond the boundaries of the former Confederacy? Were their contemporaries who opposed the erection of the monuments or who erected monuments that offered a different perspective? When did the contemporary debate over the monuments begin and why?

"Allies, Empires, and Peace Treaties: A Look Back at the War to End All Wars"

Saturday, February 10, 2018, 9:00 AM – 3:45 PM

San Jacinto Residence Hall and Meeting Center, UT Austin Campus

Join us for “Allies, Empires, and Peace Treaties: A Look Back at the War to End All Wars," a workshop in commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War. Held in anticipation of the hundredth-year anniversary of the armistice in November 1918, this day-long event will prepare K-16 educators to teach topics related to the war and its ongoing global impact. UT faculty members will discuss the history of the war as well as their own approaches to teaching WWI, including "WWI in Real Time" and using film and photography as historical documents. We will also visit the Harry Ransom Center where the curator of their hugely successful exhibit, "The World at War, 1914-1918," will speak on some of her favorite materials from the collection.

Registration: $15

Registration for pre-service students waived.


Registration includes:

Parking at UT Austin

Full day workshop including 4.5 hours CPE credit

Light breakfast


If you have any questions, please contact Sally Dickson at

Visualizing Time and Space: An Introduction to Story Mapping for Social Studies

Sat, February 17, 2018, 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Location: PCL Learning Commons, Learning Lab 3, UT Austin campus

Join Hemispheres for "Visualizing Time and Space: An Introduction to Story Mapping for Social Studies," a workshop for K-16 educators in social studies. Hosted in conjunction with UT Libraries' Digital Initiatives: Arts, Humanities, & Global Studies Engagement Team, this day-long event will introduce teachers to story mapping tools, to be used to animate and enliven social studies lessons. Using Hemispheres' curriculum unit on the trade of global commodities, participants will have the opportunity to work in teams to create their own story map from the ground up for use in their own classrooms.

Registration includes lunch.

CPE Credits: 4 hours


Cost: $15 for educators, free for pre-service teachers


Smithsonian Learning Lab Free Workshop

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Workshop: The Struggle for Voting Rights: From the 15th Amendment to Today

Join the LBJ Presidential Library for an engaging one-day teacher workshop focusing on the history of minority voting rights in the United States.

Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with subject matter experts on the past and present struggle for the right to vote and create interactive lessons using primary sources from the US National Archives using the DocsTeach digital platform. Educators will also leave with lesson plans and resources for their classrooms provided by the LBJ Library.

Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Time: 8:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Location: LBJ Library

How to attend
The workshop is free for LBJ Library education members and current classroom teachers. Registration is required. Sign up online.

Misc information
- Breakfast and lunch will be provided.
- Please bring your own device (preferably a laptop) for the DocsTeach session.
- TEA approved Continuing Professional Education hours will be received upon completion.

AISD Social Studies will pay for teacher substitutes for AISD teachers who attend.

ABA/FJC Summer Institute For Teachers

Please see the flyer below about the ABA/FJC Summer Institute for Teachers.

This exciting Institute provides participants the opportunity will work closely throughout the week-long Institute with leading historians, federal judges, and curriculum consultants, focusing on three landmark federal trials through curriculum developed by the Federal Judicial Center.

Participation will be limited to 20 teachers. Travel, lodging, and meal expenses will be reimbursed to Institute participants according to U.S. government per diem rates.

Applications must be postmarked by March 2, 2018. Applications and more information can be found at -

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Center for the Study of Federalism Offers $2500 Teaching Awards on Federalism

Does federalism still matter? The Center for the Study of Federalism says yes! CSF will be awarding three teachers with $2500 each for unit plans focusing on federalism in the United States.

Middle and high school teachers can participate by creating unit plans that address the question, “Does federalism still matter?” Defined as the distribution of power in an organization between a central authority and the constituent, federalism in the U.S. is a complicated concept about balancing power between national and state governments.

Unit plans should contain five to seven lesson plans that are adaptable for other teachers across the country and winning unit plans will be published on the CSF website. Within the theme of federalism, applicants may be creative and explore the subject area from a number of perspectives. For instance, a specific policy area, policy debates, or the policy-making process may be interesting angles from which students can grapple with issues relating to federalism.

For more information about the unit plan format and evaluation criteria, check out the Center for the Study of Federalism’s website.

Contested Territory: America’s Role in Southeast Asia, 1945–75

Location: National Humanities Center
Dates: July 16–27, 2018
Stipend: $2,100
Application Deadline: March 1, 2018

This NEH Summer Institute will explore modern Vietnam in order to situate the American War in broader spatial settings and longer historical contexts. Vietnam’s landscapes range from forests, over mountains, through fields, and downstream to river deltas. Vietnamese lives move from village to city, meander through cafes and rice paddies, cross oceans and land again. Many people called “Vietnamese” today did not even speak the national language until deep into the twentieth century.

This institute aims to introduce a fascinating place rich in history and to animate a geographic and historical perspective among participants. Based on a course developed by Christian C. Lentz from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with assistance from the Carolina Asia Center, the institute offers teachers a chance to learn from Lentz and other scholar-experts about Vietnam and how to teach its history and geography.

For more information about the institute and how to apply, check out their website.

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If you find any resources that you'd like to share...

just email Melanie with a brief description and the link!
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Austin ISD Secondary Social Studies

High School Specialist - Melanie Kirchhof

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me by one of the means below.

Also, if you enjoy receiving resources more frequently than once a month, follow us on Twitter @AISDSoc !