Austin ISD Social Studies News

Vol. 26, November 2017

The Season for Giving Thanks

We are over halfway through the Fall semester and we want to take a moment to give thanks to the amazing teachers who are working with each and every one of our students daily to learn the content and skills that will help them graduate with a plethora of opportunities before them!

Please read all the way to the bottom of this newsletter so that you don't miss any upcoming opportunities! There are several student contests with submission deadlines of December 1!

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November is American Indian Heritage Month

Smithsonian Learning Lab:

Are you tired of the same old lessons about ancient American Indian food, clothing, and shelter? Why not use this year’s American Indian Heritage month to try something new and different from the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)? The museum is engaged in Native Knowledge 360°, an exciting new national initiative to support improved teaching and learning about the Native peoples of the western hemisphere.

Learn about additional resources for teaching and learning about American Indian Heritage here

TEA Updates

Social Studies TEKS Streamlining Work Group Applications Ongoing

TEA is now accepting applications from individuals interested in serving on the social studies TEKS streamlining work groups. Applications will be provided to State Board of Education members, who will nominate individuals, including educators, parents, business and industry representatives, and employers, to serve on TEKS work groups. Nominations to serve on TEKS work groups will be made throughout the TEKS review process. TEA will continue to accept applications for the pool of applicants from which work group members will be selected throughout the TEKS streamlining process.

To access the application, and for more information regarding the social studies TEKS work group application, please visit the Social Studies TEKS Streamlining webpage. Questions regarding the application or TEKS streamlining process may be sent via email to

Texas Education on iTunes U Update

Texas Education on iTunes U collections have moved from iTunes U to Apple Podcasts. You can access your favorite collections by using the Apple Podcasts app. You can also access collections in the Podcast section of iTunes on your Mac or PC.

The newest Texas Education on iTunes U collection is A More Perfect Union: George Washington and the Creation of the U.S. Constitution. Download this video and others for use in your classrooms this year!

BLEND modules for 3rd six weeks Available in the Commons

WH: Asia in the First Global Age (3rd six weeks) - An example of Talk Read, Talk Write literacy strategy

ECO: Circular Flow Model (3rd six weeks)

If there is a topic for the 4th six weeks that you'd like to see a BLEND module for, email Melanie Kirchhof and let her know by 11/27 so she can get it created and uploaded to the Commons before the 4th six weeks begins.

Questions about BLEND? Click here

StoryCorps and the Great Thanksgiving Listen

The Great Thanksgiving Listen is a national project during the month of November that empowers young people – and people of all ages – to connect with a family member, an elder or mentor, or someone they admire to record an interview with them using the free StoryCorps App.

The Great Thanksgiving Listen was developed for high school students to contribute their voices to the oral history being developed and preserved in the Library of Congress. Students must be age 13 or older to participate and parental consent is required for students under the age of 18.

With consent of participants, interviews become part of the StoryCorps Archive at the Library of Congress. To date, thousands of high schools, community organizations, and individuals from all 50 states have participated and preserved more than 75,000 interviews! To learn more and to participate in The Great Thanksgiving Listen, go to

For help with content, organization, or implementation, email Abby Easton at For technical questions regarding the StoryCorps App, visit The Great Listen Help Page.

AISD Professional Learning Opportunities

SS HS Department Chair Meeting #2

When: Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Time: 1:00 - 4:00

Where: Baker Center

Audience: All Department Chairs and SS Instructional Coaches

Register online now


  • Welcome - Icebreaker - Announcements
  • Technology: Tools to use with BLEND - Laurie Beaman, Lanier HS
  • Community Partner: Humanities Texas
  • Whole Child: The Power of Ethnic Studies
  • Literacy: Talk Read, Talk Write Follow Up

This is the second meeting of the 17-18 school year and 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.

US History District PLC Meeting #2

When: Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Time: 9:00 - 12:00

Where: Baker Center

Audience: All US History teachers

Register online now


  • Welcome - Icebreaker - Announcements
  • Example BLEND module: Changes in Civil Rights uses the Structured Academic Controversy format and supports the Whole Child by embedding Cultural Proficiency.
  • Unit and Lesson Planning
  • BLEND module vetting
  • Wrap-Up

AP World History District PLC Meeting #2

When: November 29, 2017

Time: 9:00 - 4:00

Where: Baker Center

Audience: All WHAP teachers

Register online now


  • Welcome - Icebreaker
  • Analyzing Primary and Secondary sources
  • Breaking down the AP Rubrics for the LEQ and DBQ
  • Lesson and Unit Planning
  • Wrap-Up

This is the second meeting of the WHAP District PLC! This District PLC was created to support all WHAP teachers with content and strategies. Together we will create units and lessons that challenge student thinking and provide scaffolds where necessary.

Teacher Opportunities

TAH: Civil Rights: Constitution and Law

When: Wednesday, December 6, 2017, from 8:00 am - 2:30 pm

Where: TBD

Who: US History and US Government Teachers, all campuses

Austin ISD Social Studies will cover the cost of subs.

Sign Up Here!

Explore the evolution of Civil Rights laws and constitutional interpretations, from the era of Reconstruction through the mid-20th Century in this one-day seminar. A selection of original documents will serve as the foundation for this discussion, aimed at helping teachers develop a greater understanding of the key laws, court cases, and changes in legal understanding as related to Civil Rights in America. This program is open to all area teachers; however, Austin ISD teachers will receive priority for program placement.

Discussion Leader: Dr. Joshua Dunn, Professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Access PDF copies of the reader and agenda here.

TAFE 2017 Conference - Be a Judge!

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GEOO Teacher Summer Travel to India and Nepal

Hemispheres is once again pleased to announce that we are partnering with the non-profit GEEO (Global Exploration for Educators Organization) to run two teacher travel programs in 2018. We have previously run programs with GEEO in Peru, Uzbekistan, and India, combining GEEO's expertise in organizing low-cost, quality programs with our academic expertise.

India and Nepal

July 23rd – August 7th

Academic escort: Rachel Meyer, South Asia Institute

This trip is meant to be family-friendly. Bring your children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews (11 years or older) on this amazing journey through Northern India and Nepal. If you’re looking to experience the diversity of India and Nepal, this 16-day trip contrasts the colorful culture of India with the pristine serenity of Nepal's Himalayan mountains. From the ghats that line the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi to a 4x4 safari in Chitwan National Park, our expert tour leader will take you through a region of unsurpassed natural beauty and spirituality before revealing to you the rugged Himalayan landscape of Nepal’s magical capital, Kathmandu.

GEEO and the South Asia Institute at the University of Texas at Austin are collaborating on this program. In addition to the local guides arranged by GEEO, you will be accompanied by an academic representative from the University of Texas, who will help you process the experience for your classroom. UT's representative has a graduate degree in Cultural Anthropology. During her undergraduate and graduate studies, she lived in Varanasi for a total of 3 years studying Hindi and conducting research on women and families.

This program is open to all educators and their family members and guests.

You can register now with a deposit of $250; the balance is due 60 days prior to departure.

For more information and to sign up:

Questions? Contact Rachel Meyer at or Jessie Weisz at GEEO,

Student Opportunities

DAR Student Essay Contest

The Thankful Hubbard Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) is sponsoring a Christopher Columbus American History essay contest for students in grades 9-12. The three levels of competition are local, state, and national.

Christopher Columbus, an Italian, managed to convince a Spanish monarch to fund his voyage. Discuss the reasons why a monarch from one country would be interested in hiring an explorer from a foreign country to complete such an important mission. What convinced the Spanish monarchy to support Christopher Columbus instead of Spanish explorers?

Title of essay: “Advantages and Disadvantages of Working Relationships Between Foreign Parties”

Open to Grades 9–12

Length: Between 800 and 1200 words

Local chapter winners in grades 9-12 receive a bronze medal, a certificate, and a $50 cash prize. All other participants receive a certificate of participation.

All students will submit their original copy and THREE copies of their essay and it must be postmarked December 1, 2017.

For contact information, check out the file CC Gr 9-12 below.

Student Essay Contest

The National Society of Colonial Dames is excited to announce their annual essay topic for 2017.

Why did the authors of the United States Constitution give Presidents the power to issue Executive Orders? How did Congress and the Judicial Branch limit these orders?

Essays are due by December 1, 2017 and must not exceed the 750 word limit.

The essay contest is open to all students in grades 10-12. The winner will join winners from around the country for an all expense paid week in Washington D.C. and will participate in a Congressional Seminar.

For more information on contest rules and regulation, including instructions for how to submit an essay, please visit the contest website. The file linked below is a poster you can print out to hang in your classroom.

Third Annual Roots of Liberty National Essay Contest for Students is once again pleased to support the third annual Roots of Liberty National Essay Contest. Students will write an essay on the following:

In If Men Were Angels, No Government Would Be Necessary, law professor Stephen B. Presser argues that, “[f]or the Framers of the Constitution the practice of politics was all about how to distribute power within the government in order to preserve private property, individual rights, and the rule of law which secured both.”

Has the Constitution succeed in preserving the interests of those outside the majority? If so how and why? If not, how and why? A thoughtful response will include at least one historical example (18th, 19th, 20th centuries) and one contemporary example (21st century.)

The winning student essay will receive a grand prize of $5,000, plus a trip to D.C. for 2. The teacher who sponsors the winning student will also receive a prize of $1,000.

Essay Contest Deadline: Friday, December 15, 2017

Essay Contest Info Here!

Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month Student Video Contest

The Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission (THGC) is excited to announce their 2018 student video contest. The mission of the THGC and these contests is to increase awareness of the Holocaust and other genocides. Students participating in the contests will learn about the many Texans who helped liberate countless innocent people from Nazi camps. All entries are due by March 2, 2018.

The student video contest is open to students in grades 6-12. Students will create an original 2-3 minute video responding to the following prompt: “Describe your reaction to a time when you witnessed someone being mistreated, and what you learned from the experience.” For contest information and guidelines, visit the following webpage:

Video Flyer linked below.

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 !