Austin ISD Social Studies News

Vol. 15, April 2016

In this April issue of our Austin ISD Social Studies Newsletter, we have included TEA updates, upcoming professional development opportunities inside and outside of Austin ISD, information about student opportunities, and highlighted online instructional materials.

Don't forget to check out our updated social studies website for more resources, CRMs, and exemplar lessons!

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National Poetry Month

This April marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, which was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996.

Consider how you can incorporate poetry into your social studies classroom. Poems can be used as primary source documents to read or students can write poems for assessment products.

TEA Update: Personal Financial Literacy TEKS

Personal Financial Literacy Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills

At the January 2016 meeting, the State Board of Education (SBOE) gave final approval for Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for a new one-half credit elective course in social studies, Personal Financial Literacy. The new course will be available beginning with the 2016-2017 school year.

Once published in the Texas Register, the new TEKS will be available online at and will be noted with “Adopted 2016” in the title.

The PEIMS code for the new course is available in the 2016-2017 PEIMS data standards that published on March 1, 2016, available in the Description of Codes at

Please note that Texas Education Code §28.0021(b) requires that school districts and open-enrollment charter schools with a high school program must offer the Personal Financial Literacy course. Other financial literacy courses will not meet this requirement

Austin ISD Secondary Learning Opportunities

Dinner and a Movie: National Parks Adventure

Monday, April 25, 2016

5:30-7:30 pm

Bullock Museum

Free parking, dinner, and IMAX film called National Parks Adventure

Recommended for USH teachers (US14.B) and WG teachers (WG3.B, 3.C, 4.A, 4.B)

Check out the official Trailer

Register in HCP, section #80332

Social Studies Institute - Call for Presenters!

Social Studies Summer Institute

August 4, 2016 (Save the Date!)


Anderson High School

Sessions will be 65 minutes in length.

If you are interested in being a presenter at our 2016 Social Studies Summer Institute, please fill out the Social Studies Summer Institute Presenter Proposal Form. To fill it out, visit:

Proposals are due by July 14, 2016.

Learning Opportunities in the Community

AHC's Music in the Park

Austin History Center presents "Music in the Park"

Sunday, April 3rd, 2:00 - 5:00 PM

Wooldridge Square Park,

Guadalupe St., between 9th & 10th St

The event is free and open to the public.
Parking is free on Sunday.

The Austin History Center invites you to a family-friendly afternoon of "Music in the Park," an event featuring student musicians of the Austin Independent School District. Groups from various schools will be performing including:

  • The Fiddlers and the Rockestra from Lamar Middle School & Fine Arts Academy
  • The Dobie Middle School and College Prep Academy Guitarists
  • The Blackshear Elementary Fine Arts Academy's Choir
  • Austin High School's Mixed Woodwind Trio and Trumpet Quartet

Pack a blanket, lawn chairs and a picnic to enjoy while you listen to the music. Snow cones, tacos and beverages will be available for purchase from Kona and Rosarito food carts. The Austin Public Library's Youth Services department will have craft supplies available for kids to make their own musical instruments.

Migration and Displacement Conference

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

9:00 - 5:30

Carter Auditorium, St. Edward’s University

Free to attend, lunch on our own.

Recommended for World Geography teachers (WG1.A, 7.B, 7.C, 18.A)

SS will pay for your substitute so you can attend.

You can receive 6 hours of GT credit.

This workshop will explore U.S and European perspectives on academic, policy, and moral dimensions of contemporary migration challenges. Speakers participating in the first two panel sessions of the conference (9:00am, 11:00am) will concentrate on specific regional case studies including refugee flows from Syria, Ukraine, US-Mexico border migration, and others.

We will host a keynote address (2:00pm) with leading expert on migration Dr. James Hollifield, and the final panel (3:00pm) will focus on raising the questions of ethics, morality, and policy dimensions in addressing regional and global migration challenges.

Check out the Migration Conference schedule.

Choices Program: International Issues Workshop

Friday, April 29, 2016
8:30 am-3:30 pm
Saint Mary’s Hall
San Antonio, TX!!

Units: The Middle East in Transition: Questions for U.S. Policy and Colonization and Independence in Africa

Workshop Leader: Linda Hammon, Choices Teaching Fellow

Cost: $145 per person. Price includes two units ($78 value), lunch, and a certificate of completion.

Register online

Social Studies will pay for your substitute if you attend.

Recommended for:

  • World Geography (WG2.A, 15.B)
  • World History (WH8.D, 13.E, 13.F)
  • US History (US10.D, 17.E)
  • Government (GOV4.A, 4.B, 6.A, 12.A)


TCSS Stephen Johnson Student Scholarships

Named after a one of the organization’s tenured members. Stephen Johnson was a school teacher for many years. He served as president, served as TCSS Executive Secretary helping to host a decade of conferences and received our top honor, The Billy Sills Distinguished Service award.

The scholarships are two $2000 awards for graduating high school or college students intent on a career teaching social studies. In order to qualify for the scholarship, applicants’ major field of study must be related to social studies education.

The TCSS Scholarship deadline is April 15.

Click here for The TCSS Scholarship Application.


iCivics: Win the White House

On March 1st, iCivics launched an updated version of the wildly popular game, Win the White House. With more than 250,000 game plays since launch, Win the White House was designed in response to the challenges surrounding teaching the election in today's politically divisive climate. Instead of learning about elections through lectures and textbook readings, Win the White House empowers students to engage in the electoral process by developing a nationwide campaign strategy while also experiencing the first-hand challenges of campaigning.

Activate your electoral knowledge! Learn more about Win the White House and other great election resources for teachers here! Don't forget to share your students' reaction to the game or even your own score on Twitter using #EducateToParticipate!

C-SPAN Classroom Deliberations: Supreme Court Nominations in an Election Year

LESSON: Should the United States Senate Conduct Confirmation Hearings for a Supreme Court Vacancy in a Presidential Election Year?

Following the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on February 13th, 2016, the Republican controlled Senate and leading Republican presidential candidates stated that a Supreme Court vacancy which occurs in the same calendar year as a presidential election should be left vacant until the newly elected President can make a nomination. President Obama believes the President has a Constitutional responsibility to make a nomination when a vacancy occurs.

Democratic Senators, currently in the minority, argue that no Supreme Court nominee sent to the Judiciary Committee by a sitting President in the last 100 years has been denied a hearing. Senate Republicans argue that Democrats are on record in the past as having supported the idea of not holding hearings on potential candidates nominated by President Bush in the last year of his Presidency.

Is the Senate violating its Constitutional responsibility to provide "Advice and Consent" to President Obama's nominee? Should a lame-duck president be allowed to make a lifetime appointment in the final months of their administration?

Help your students prepare to deliberate those questions and more by using the video clips, articles, and handouts included in this new lesson.

FTE: UBERnomics

The Haas Act of 1937 regulated the New York city taxi industry - to the delight of cabbies tired of competition and downward pressure on prices. It also created a market for taxi medallions, originally auctioned by the city for $10, and required for every cab. Medallions became the ticket to the good life for drivers, and by 2010 they were selling for almost $1 million.

And then . . . along came Uber.

Our new Hot Topic, Ubernomics, applies the tools of economic reasoning to the rise and fall of New York City's "taxi kings," owners of hundreds of the just 13,600 medallions serving a city of 8.5 million people. The focus of this lesson is Economic Reasoning Principles #3 (incentives) and #4 (institutions). Students learn how, from 1937-2011, cabbies enjoyed the benefits of market power conferred and protected by city government. They examine the medallion sales data before and after May, 2011, when Uber entered the city as a "ride-sharing service" exempt from the rules of the game regulating taxis. In the 4 short years since, the market for medallions has crashed as New Yorkers increasing get out their phones instead of standing on the curb yelling, "Taxi!"


BRI eLesson: 4th Amendment for the iPhone

Apple vs. The FBI

In this eLesson, students will learn about the battle between Apple and the FBI and analyze the connection between the Fourth Amendment and privacy rights in the digital age.

View the eLesson here.

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Austin ISD High School Social Studies

High School Specialist - Melanie Kirchhof

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

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