Austin ISD Social Studies Weekly

October 19-25

In this weekly update you will find upcoming PD opportunities, highlighted online resources, and information about student contests. Please read through the whole newsletter. A new update will be emailed each Monday.

Professional Development Opportunities

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Come and learn about the programs offered by the Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life such as Speak Up, Speak Out.

You will also have the opportunity to become a Travis County Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar. With the 2016 Elections right around the corner, this will allow our seniors to become registered voters as they turn 18 before they graduate from high school!

We need to increase the civic engagement in our schools. Come on by and find out how you can support your students!

Register today!

Teaching American History Spring Colloquia

These programs are designed to reignite your passion for American history and government. Take the content knowledge gained at these programs back to your classroom to inspire your students. Not only will you experience historic sites, like Independence Hall or Monticello, but you will also engage in thoughtful conversation by exploring primary documents with your fellow teachers and a historian/political scientist.

This spring our colloquia topics will include:

  • America in World War I (Kansas City, MO)
  • Jefferson and Education (Charlottesville, VA)
  • Reagan and the Modern Presidency (Grand Vista, Simi Valley, CA)
  • The American Founding (Philadelphia, PA)
  • LBJ as President: The Vietnam War (Austin, TX)

For more information regarding these programs, please click here. also provides program participants with:

  • Reading materials, to be read prior to the program
  • Up to 8 contact hours, with the option to earn 1 graduate credit
  • Hotel accommodations for the weekend (Friday evening through Sunday morning)
  • Complimentary continental breakfast, lunch, dinner, and refreshments during the program
  • A stipend of $225 to help defray the cost of travel to/from the program site


New online Lesson Plans and Teacher Resources

Educational Resources for He Named Me Malala

In an effort to inform students about the challenges many of their peers around the world face in gaining access to education, the Students Stand With Malala campaign is offering public middle and high school classes fully funded field trips to see He Named Me Malala in nearby theaters starting this month. Public school teachers who teach 7th-12th grades can register and request their field trips on the DonorsChoose website. (One teacher can sign up for an entire school!)

National Geographic created educational resources to supplement the film, including classroom guides and maps of the region. Check them out here.

Explore! The Power of Maps

NOVEMBER 15-21, 2015

To celebrate the 2015 Geography Awareness Week theme, “Explore! The Power of Maps,” the Texas Alliance for Geographic Education invites Texas teachers and students to create and share maps. Maps can tell a story, show lots of data easily, and answer questions. Geographers decide which canvas, or basemap, to use, which layers of data to add on top to recognize spatial patterns. This projects provides an opportunity for students and teachers to participate in the geography, art, and science that is mapmaking while tracking participation online. We hope that this celebration engages Texas’ educational community to Explore! The Power of Maps!

GeoWeek 2015 FlyerGuidelines(PDF, 639.8 KB)

Student Contest Opportunities!

We the Students Essay Contest!

Each year, the Institute hosts an essay contest that does two things: encourages students to think deeply about their constitutional rights and helps them pay for college! And this year, we're asking students to weigh in on the ongoing debate between liberty and security.

Here's the prompt:

Our Founders believed that the Bill of Rights should guarantee your individual liberty. But how has our government compromised on your rights in the name of security?

Students who answer this question in a 500-800 word essay will have a chance to win the grand prize of $5,000 and a scholarship to our annual summer event for students in Washington D.C. There are also a number of cash prizes for runner-ups.

Student Prizes

  • Grand Prize: $5,000 cash (plus a scholarship to Constitutional Academy)
  • Runners Up: 6 cash prizes of $1,250 each
  • Honorable Mention: 8 cash prizes of $500 each

Additional Student Incentives

  • Refer a Friend – 10 random drawings of $50 each
  • Step Two Submission Drawings – 10 random drawings of $500 each

Prizes for Teachers of Winning Students

  • Teachers of Winners: 15 cash prizes of $100 each
  • Teachers with 5 or more nominations: 5 random drawings for $50 each