The Social Studies Connection

A Newsletter for Secondary Social Studies Teachers in CCS

Preparing students for success in college, career, and civic life

If you missed last month's edition of the Social Studies Connection, click here.

Matthew I. Doran

Secondary Social Studies Specialist

Office of Teaching & Learning

Curriculum Division

Southland Center

January 2021

In this edition:

  • Curriculum and Instruction: Bringing the Frameworks Together: Preparing for Second Semester
  • Curriculum and Instruction: New AP Pacing Guides from the College Board
  • Curriculum and Instruction: The Electoral College and Presidential Inauguration C-SPAN Resources
  • Ohio's State Tests: Updated Quick Review Guides
  • Ohio's State Tests: Mastery Connect Assessment Platform
  • Professional Development: February 3 District PD Day
  • Professional Development: Virtual PD Calendar with 2021 Updates
  • Professional Development: Professional Leave/Spring Virtual Conferences
  • Virtual Learning Resources: Google Drawings Graphic Organizers
  • Virtual Learning Resources: Social Studies Virtual Learning Padlet of Padlets


Bringing the Frameworks Together: Preparing for Second Semester

Happy New Year! While 2020 certainly brought us many challenges, we are hoping for better days to come in 2021. As we continue the school year in virtual learning, we know that the learning format may well change (even more than once) before the school year ends, so we continue to be flexible in meeting the needs of students.

One of the realities that we have encountered in virtual teaching is that we often need to adjust the pacing and overall scope of courses to ensure that students are mastering the concepts. This year we have shared three frameworks that can help with this process as teachers plan for the remainder of the year. Below is a summary of how these frameworks could work together in helping you plan for student success.

The Big Ideas and Overarching Essential Questions

The Big Ideas provide students with a clear vision, purpose, and focus for social studies instruction across all courses. This year, all CCS social studies courses are mapped to the Big Six Ideas: Change, Democracy, Diversity, Evidence, Justice, and Power. As you unpack content in the second semester, select the people, places, events, and ideas that best illustrate these Big Six. Revisit content addressed earlier in the year and connect it to new content via the Overarching Essential Questions. Synchronous and asynchronous class discussions allow students to wrestle with the ideas and questions.

Visible Learning

The Visible Learning framework demonstrates that learning is not an event, but rather a process in which students move from surface-level learning to deep learning, and then onto the transfer of concepts, skills, and strategies. With the Big Six Ideas in mind, establish some transfer goals for the second semester. What are some of the most important take-aways (content and skills) that students can apply beyond the specific unit of study and course? Determine the key conceptual understandings to unpack at the surface and deep level that will help students meet these transfer goals.

Clarifying Content Priorities

The Clarifying Content Priorities framework is a helpful tool in planning standards-based instruction. Under constraints, and with high stakes, it is imperative to focus on Priority 1 and 2 content. Priority 2 content consists of paths to mastery of Priority 1. Priority 3 may helpful to add some additional context or enrichment, but it should not be the main focus of instruction. Priority 1 content will flow from the Big Ideas, transfer goals, and key conceptual understandings.


New AP Pacing Guides from the College Board

From the College Board:

If your AP classes have been forced off schedule, the new AP Pacing Guides provide one way to AP teachers catch up by maximizing their direct teaching time. These course pacing guides provide one way to ensure students are exposed to all the course content and skills this year.

The guide for your subject can help you assign the AP Daily videos and topic questions necessary for student-led learning each week, using the reports generated by these topic questions to focus your limited, direct class time on the areas where students need more help to develop their knowledge and skills by May. It is designed for classrooms that have only completed approximately 25% of typical course content by January.

The guide shows how students can make up the pace by completing approximately 30 minutes of AP Daily videos and topic questions per night, in lieu of or in addition to teacher-led learning and other class assignments.

Download the 2021 Pacing Guides here.


The Electoral College and Presidential Inauguration C-SPAN Resources

With increased attention on the Electoral College and post-election controversy, the resources below from C-SPAN can help teachers and students cut through the noise and misinformation.

On Wednesday, January 6, both chambers of Congress will convene to count the electoral votes cast in the states on December 14. Tune in at 1:00 p.m. for gavel-to-gavel coverage of a joint session of Congress to count and certify Electoral College ballots (C-SPAN, C-SPAN Radio, and Use the following resources to help teach about Congress’ role in the electoral college and this final step in the electoral college process.

Live, Wednesday, January 20, beginning at 10:00 a.m., Inauguration Day: Join C-SPAN for coverage of the swearing in of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (C-SPAN, C-SPAN Radio, and


Ohio's State Tests

Updated Quick Review Guides for Ohio's State Tests

As it stands, students are scheduled to take Ohio's State Tests in American History and American Government this spring. This is the first year in which tests are aligned to the 2018 Social Studies standards. Since our current CCS curriculum is aligned with these standards, students have been preparing for the state tests all year.

Recognizing the challenges involved with addressing large volumes of content this year, we can turn to some of our review resources in the coming months to help fill gaps. These resources are located on the Social Studies Assessment webpage.

The Quick Review Guides are designed as a 1-page (front/back) bullet-pointed review of the standards. These documents are updated and aligned with the current standards. If we return to some form of in-person learning, we will take orders for hard copies card stock versions. Please discard all previous hard copy card stock versions. In the meantime, you can download the digital version of American History here and American Government here.


Mastery Connect Assessment Platform

Mastery Connect is the district-adopted platform for developing and delivering assessments to students. Mastery Connect contains two item banks that teachers can use to deliver standards-aligned formative and summative assessments. The Certica item banks contain test items for all core social studies courses. The OH AIR Item Bank contains released test items from Ohio's State Tests in American History and American Government. Teachers can also create their own item banks and access items created by other teachers.

It is important to note that just because an item is identified as aligned to a particular standard, does not make it so. Most publishing companies do an alignment by keyword matching, which is not an effective approach. Consequently, a large percentage of items (including those in the Certica Item Bank) are not actually aligned with Ohio's standards. The responsibility falls to teachers to vet each item before including it on an assessment. The District curriculum documents are especially helpful in helping teachers unpack the learning targets guide assessment alignment.

Mastery Connect is accessible via CCS Clever for teachers and students. A 30-minute video tutorial below provides an overview of Mastery Connect.


Professional Development

February 3 District PD Day

February 3, 2021 will be the final PD Day for the school year. This will be a district sponsored event with sessions available from a variety of CCS departments and partners.

A detailed schedule will be available later this month. This schedule will be posted on a custom website that allows viewers to see all sessions by department and by start time.

For social studies, we will continue our discussion from October on Visible Learning for Social Studies, with a focus on the Transfer phase of learning. Additional session information will be forthcoming by email and the February newsletter.


Virtual PD Calendar with 2021 Updates

Many national social studies organizations, museums, and other PD providers are offering webinars throughout the coming months. To avoid spam forwards or endless newsletters, these opportunities are organized in a custom Google calendar. Most of these are free webinars; some select virtual conferences have a cost.

New opportunities have been added to the 2021 calendar, including virtual sessions from the American Historical Association (January) and the International Society for the Social Studies Virtual Conference (February).

You can access this calendar from the link here. A calendar link is also available on the Social Studies homepage under the Featured Resources column on the right side of the page. Be sure to check the calendar regularly as it updated at least once a week.


Professional Leave/Spring Virtual Conferences

There is $200,000 available to CEA bargaining unit members each year to pursue professional development opportunities outside the school district. These include taking a course or attending a conference or workshop. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, all district-related travel has been prohibited, however, professional leave is available for online conferences. Forms to apply for professional leave are linked below, along with the full leave guidelines and the deadline schedule for applications based on the activity date.

Social Studies teachers may be interested in using funds to attend either the National Council for History Education Conference (April 8-11, 2021) or the Organization of American Historians Virtual Conference on American History (April 15-18, 2021).

Requests for April conferences are due to HR by February 19, 2021. However, you may want to apply earlier before funds are depleted.


Virtual Learning Resources

As virtual learning continues, the resources below can assist with teaching and learning.

Google Drawings Graphic Organizers

Google Drawings is great tool for having students complete online graphic organizers. From the links below, teachers can click on the "Use Template" button and make a copy of each organizer. In Google Classroom, teachers can link a drawing in an assignment as "Each student gets a copy." Students will then be able to double-click in each of the editable boxes and submit their work.

This collection of over 30 graphic organizers was created by CCS Social Studies to align with many of the suggested organizers in the curriculum. Click on the link below to access.

Social Studies Virtual Learning Padlet of Padlets

Check on the master padlet below for links to additional social studies virtual learning resources. These include curated collections of reading and resources collections, video tutorials, and interactive social studies apps.