The Social Studies Connection

A Newsletter for Secondary Social Studies Teachers in CCS

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

Matthew I. Doran

Secondary Social Studies Specialist

Office of Teaching & Learning

Curriculum Division

Southland Center

August 2020

In this edition:

  • Welcome to 2020-2021!
  • In Memoriam: Heather Monroe, Cathy Griffin, and Tom Leidech
  • Curriculum: Big Ideas and Overarching Essential Questions
  • Curriculum: New Social Studies Curriculum Documents
  • Curriculum: Diversity, Race, Inequality, and Social Justice
  • Curriculum: Future Textbook/Resource Adoption
  • Virtual Learning: Tools and Resources
  • Virtual Learning: Community of Inquiry Best Practices
  • Civic Education: Voter Registration and Election 2020
  • Professional Development: National Council for History Education
  • Professional Development: Origins at The Ohio State University
  • Professional Development: DocsTeach


Welcome to 2020-2021!

"In these unprecedented times..." seems like the only fitting way to introduce the 2020-2021 school year (my 20th year in CCS, and 15th year with the Curriculum Department). Although our District has lived through previous pandemics like the 1918 influenza, and "schools without schools" during the 1970s energy crisis, we are venturing into new territory with a long-term remote start for 2020-2021. Despite the circumstances, we will press on with doing the vital work of social studies education. Perhaps now more than ever we need powerful and impactful social studies learning in the lives of every student.

A new school year, a new name for the newsletter. I have chosen The Social Studies Connection to highlight the many ways we make connections in social studies: big ideas and daily learning intentions, local and national history, past and present, and teachers and students. And in these times of social distancing, we have been challenged to stay connected with our colleagues, friends, and students in innovative ways. Bonus points awarded if you spotted the connection between the title and the background image of the newsletter.

In this edition of The Social Studies Connection, I have outlined the curriculum enhancements made this summer, identified tools and best practices for virtual learning, provided professional development information, and reminded us of registration and voting protocols for the 2020 election.

One final introductory note: Please join me in welcoming Katy Myers and Kenny Lee to the administrative offices of the Secondary Curriculum Division. Katy will serve as Supervisor and Kenny as Director of Secondary Curriculum. Katy previously served as principal of Columbus Spanish Immersion Academy and World Languages Supervisor. Kenny was most-recently principal at Columbus North International School. Prior to that he was a social studies teacher and social studies curriculum coordinator in Westerville City Schools. Alyse Clark, who served as Secondary Director last year, has been promoted to Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction.

Please stay tuned as information continues to evolve in this unprecedented year.

Thank you for your continued work!

Matt Doran

In Memoriam

Unfortunately, we start the school year on a sad note, announcing the passing of some long-time CCS Social Studies educators.

Heather Monroe, 8th grade social studies teacher at Ridgeview Middle School passed away unexpectedly on June 25. Heather was very active in social studies professional development over the years, as a History Speaks Fellow and Middle School Social Studies Teacher Leader/ Content Expert. She was a dynamic and innovative classroom teacher, and one of the District's leading users of DBQ Online.

Cathy Griffin, a long-time social studies teacher at Whetstone High School, passed away on July 2. Although she retired several years ago, Cathy continued to substitute at Whetstone over the years. Cathy was an expert Government and Journalism teacher, and advised the school's highly-touted student newspaper. She was a strong supporter of Kids Voting programs and recruited hundreds of students as poll workers for the Youth at the Booth program.

Tom Leidech passed away on June 16. Tom retired from CCS in 1996 after a 30-year career, including social studies teacher at Brookhaven High School, and as Social Studies Supervisor for the District.

Our condolences to all of the friends, family, and colleagues of Heather, Cathy, and Tom.


Big Six Ideas and Overarching Essential Questions

Change, Democracy, Diversity, Evidence, Justice, and Power

If you are teaching any 6-12 social studies course this year, you will notice these Big Six Ideas and accompanying overarching essential questions aligned with the new Scope and Sequence. These themes and questions were crafted through a collaborative effort with our Department Chairs in the 2019-2020 school year.

Big Ideas and Overarching Essential Questions serve three fundamental purposes:

  1. Establishing a clear vision, purpose, and focus for social studies instruction across all courses;
  2. Linking big picture concepts (macro-curriculum) with daily instructional practices (micro-curriculum); and
  3. Making social studies relevant to student success in college, career, and civic life.

Our list is neither exhaustive nor conclusive. Please feel free to adapt and add to this list to meet the needs of your students in connecting past and present.

Click on the image above to download the PDF poster of the Big Ideas.


New Social Studies Curriculum Documents

All 6-12 social studies courses have newly-revised curriculum documents for 2020-2021. These documents are available on the Social Studies curriculum page.

The new curriculum documents consist of three parts in a single PDF file:

  1. The Year-at-a-Glance provides a high-level overview of the course by grading period.
  2. The Scope and Sequence provides a detailed overview of each grading period.
  3. The Curriculum and Instruction Guide provides direction for standards-based instruction.

What's new in this year's curriculum?

  • The Big Six Ideas and Overarching Essential Questions are now mapped to the Scope and Sequence for every course.
  • The Curriculum and Instruction Guides (replacing the Clear Learning Targets documents) are organized by unit.
  • New Instructional Strategies and Instructional Resources are included for every standard/learning target--about 5-10 strategies and resources for each target.
  • High School courses have clear demarcations between Semester X (red) and Semester Y (gray) standards and pacing.
  • The HS Academic Elective courses (African-American Studies, Economics, Global Issues, Law, Psychology, and Sociology) have more detailed unit structures, learning targets, and strategies and resources, while continuing to build on the C3 Framework.
  • Issues of diversity, race, inequality, and social justice have been amplified (see details below).


Diversity, Race, Inequality and Social Justice in the Social Studies Curriculum

The nationwide movements for racial equality and social justice taking place this summer have reminded all of us of the critical role of social studies education in creating an active citizenry and building a better world. In CCS Social Studies, we take our commitment to these causes seriously. To that end, we have done a preliminary review of our curriculum, looking at ways to highlight and amplify issues of diversity, race, inequality, and social justice.

Many of our teachers have a long track record of teaching for civic engagement and social justice. However, we want to make sure that our collective commitment is explicit and unambiguous. At times, this involves going beyond the narrow parameters of Ohio's Learning Standards in Social Studies to teach untold narratives. We also understand that revisions to the printed curriculum are the easiest part of change. The real work takes place in the daily work of our classroom teachers as they empower students for success as a citizen in a global community.

Below are some highlights of these changes. Please know that these are based on a preliminary review and limited implementation timeline. This work is ongoing and we welcome your feedback regarding this important work.


  • The Big Six Ideas (Change, Democracy, Diversity, Evidence, Justice, and Power) and Overarching Essential Questions ask students to wrestle with persistent questions of justice: How can we be involved with the change process? Who has the right to self-government? What happens when justice is denied? When do we have a right to revolution? Does might make right? Why is it important to speak truth to power?
  • Our Academic Elective courses have explicit alignment with the powerful College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework from the National Council for Social Studies. In Dimension 4, Taking Informed Action, both the Instructional Strategies and Performance Task sections provide ways for students to engage issues through policy advocacy, social media campaigns, and community engagement.

More specifically:

  • Social Studies 6 now includes a full grading period devoted to the study of contemporary cultural regions of the Eastern Hemisphere. This change expands the previous units on cultural diffusion and world religions. Economics units have been moved to the fourth grading period to allow for this change.
  • Social Studies 7 has added new instructional strategies and resources for the study of non-Western civilizations in Africa and Asia in the Middle Ages and First Global Age.
  • Social Studies 8 has added new underpinning learning targets and content elaborations using Teaching Hard History: A Framework for Teaching American Slavery, edited by Ohio State professor Hasan Jeffries. The Scope and Sequence now includes two full sub-units on the role of enslaved and free African Americans in both the colonial and Antebellum periods. More than 30 new instructional strategies and resources include primary sources from enslaved and free African Americans, and contemporary analysis such as the 1619 Project. This course highlights the direct and indirect protections of slavery in the U.S. Constitution, the contributions of African Americans to American culture and society, and leaves no doubt about the centrality of slavery in causing the Civil War.
  • Modern World History 9 has a reworked fourth grading period, with revised model lessons on decolonization and contemporary movements forthcoming.
  • American History 10 includes new instructional resources on Jim Crow, the Great Migration, Post-World War I Intolerance, and the Civil Rights Movement.
  • American Government includes new instructional resources on civil rights and the expansion of suffrage through constitutional amendments.
  • African-American Studies has a new curriculum fully-aligned with the Teaching Hard History Framework, with new learning targets, instructional strategies, and resources. The course takes students right to up to present-day with half of the final grading period based on a new concluding unit, Black Lives Matter.
  • Economics is a new course that includes Feminist and other criticisms of the Neoclassical model used in the state standards. One-fourth of this semester course is a unit on Global Economics and Economic Issues, which examines economics, social justice, and sustainability issues.
  • Global Issues includes a full grading period devoted to cultural and social Issues (world religions and cultures, migration and refugees, and global health crises), as a well a human rights unit in second semester.
  • Law has added content elaborations calling attention to research on injustices and racial bias in the criminal justice system.
  • Psychology concludes with a sub-unit on sociocultural diversity, including the study of how privilege and social power structures relate to stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination.
  • Sociology dedicates one-fourth of the course to the study of stratification and inequality, including inequities of race, ethnicity, and gender.

Racial Justice Initiative Grant

2020 – 2021

You should have received an email regarding the CCS Racial Justice Initiative Grant. Multiple grants ranging from $100 to $2,500 will be available to CCS certificated staff who seek to implement projects that directly challenge racism and promote social justice. The intent of this grant is to plant seeds toward an anti-racist future. No grant request will be considered after September 4, 2020. To submit your application, go to and enter your ILead login name and password.

CCS Social Studies intends to submit our own proposal, but we are more than happy to collaborate and support any project ideas teachers may have. Please contact Matt Doran if you would like support in developing a proposal.


Future Textbook/Resource Adoption

It's no secret that our textbooks are outdated. The most recent adoption occurred in 2009 for grades 6-8, Modern World History and American Government. HS American History, electives, and AP textbooks were adopted in 2007. While we have attempted to "plug holes" with supplemental resources and open educational resources, these are not viable long-term solutions.

We expect very soon to be receiving details about the adoption process and the formation of an adoption committee. Once a formal Request For Proposals is posted, a call for a committee will go out through the Columbus Education Association, as outlined in the Master Agreement, 504.01: "Selection of the textbook committee members shall be made by a joint committee composed of an equal number of Board and Association members, except that the Administration shall have the right to designate one (1) member of each textbook committee."

Stay tuned for further information.


Virtual Learning, Fall 2020

Planning for Virtual Learning: Getting Started

The articles will outline tools, resources, and strategies to employ during the virtual learning start to the year.

Here are some quick steps to begin planning this month:

  1. Using the new Curriculum documents on the Social Studies website, read through the Year-at-a-Glance, Scope and Sequence, and the Curriculum and Instruction Guide (for Grading Period 1). From the Instructional Strategies and Instructional Resources sections, identify strategies and tools that can be adapted for virtual learning (synchronous or asynchronous). Take note of the Google Drawings (see below) that provided editable graphic organizers for many of the organizers recommended in the curriculum.

  2. Review the Social Studies Course Sites for additional material that may used for virtual learning. The specific resources vary from course to course. Some courses have digital versions of the textbooks or ancillary materials, adapted reading materials, and model lessons.

  3. Use the Newsela collections (access via Clever) to identify relevant primary and secondary source articles. Custom text sets for each course will be available soon.


Virtual Learning Tools and Resources

Google Classroom

To facilitate virtual learning, teachers will need an online space for posting announcements, assignments, class discussions, and launching live sessions. Google Classroom is the recommended tool for this purpose. Teachers can add students directly to a Google Classroom with their For help getting started with Google Classroom, teachers can view the resources at the CCS eLearning On-Demand site.

Teachers can use Google Meet to hold live virtual meetings. A Google Meet can be generated from Google Classroom. Only the teacher will be able to start a live Google Meet session. Please note: Do not install the Google Meet Waiting Room Chrome Extension on your teacher device. This will put the teacher in the waiting room and prevent them from entering the live session.

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.


Newsela Collections

Details are being finalized for the District's plan to include Newsela subscriptions for social studies classes for 2020-2021, with access through CCS Clever.

Newsela includes an extensive database of thousands of primary and secondary sources, all of which are adapted for five Lexile levels. Each article also includes text-dependent questions aligned with literacy standards, and an editable writing prompt where you can additional open- ended content questions.

Custom curated Newsela text sets will be available for every CCS 6-12 social studies course. These text sets will include about 35-40 vetted articles per grading period. Teachers will be able to choose any number of articles from these sets (or other articles) and assign them to their classes (already loaded in Clever) with the click of a button.

Newsela is not a "required platform," but CCS Social Studies highly recommends its use. In fact, we are fairly certain that will you find this to so useful that no requirement would even be necessary.

We will provide additional updates with links to the custom text sets very soon!


Additional Free Social Studies Student Apps

  • CommonLit is an extensive, free collection of primary and secondary sources in American History, World History, and Government, organized by theme. Many CommonLit articles are linked the Instructional Resources section of the new curriculum documents.

  • Khan Academy includes free video lectures/tutorials for World History and American History. Teachers can create a free account and enroll students via Google Classroom sync. Videos can be embedded into Google Classroom.

  • PBS Learning Media includes an extensive collection of video segments from PBS documentaries on a full range of social studies topics.

  • EVERFI includes free virtual courses in Financial Literacy, Civics, and African-American History. Teachers can create a free account and enroll students.

  • iCivics includes interactive games for American History and Government, and lesson resources for teachers with printable student handouts. Note: Student handouts can be printed and completed offline.

  • World Book Student is available free through INFOhio and includes student-friendly articles on a wide range of topics in social studies. Note: Articles can be printed and completed offline.

  • The Points of View Reference Center is available free through INFOhio and includes point/counterpoint articles on many current issues. Note: Articles can be printed and completed offline.


Community of Inquiry: Best Practices in Virtual Learning

The Community of Inquiry Framework is the "process of creating a deep and meaningful (collaborative-constructivist) learning experience through the development of three interdependent elements: social, cognitive and teaching presence."

In the infographic below, we have highlighted some best practices and tools teachers can use to establish social, cognitive, and teaching presence during this period of virtual learning.


Civic Education

Voter Registration and Election 2020

Students who are U.S. citizens and 18 years old on or before the November 3 election are eligible to vote in the 2020 election. If students did not register during the primary, or the have since moved, they can register or update their information through Franklin County Board of Elections website.

Note the additional information regarding absentee ballot requests and early in-person voting at the Board of Elections.

In the words of Susan B. Anthony, “Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.” (Look for more information about the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment in our September newsletter.)

Youth at the Booth

As the Kids Voting Central Ohio organization is no longer in operation, the Franklin County Board of Elections has assumed responsibility for Youth at Booth, an opportunity for high school seniors to work at the polls.

Teachers should contact the Youth at the Booth Coordinator at 614.525.5731 or email Deadlines for General Elections are varied and based on the beginning date of each school.

Please see the Franklin Board of Elections YAB page for more complete information and forms:


Professional Development

National Council for History Education

The National Council for History Education has been leading the way in free virtual professional development for history educators the past several months. On Thursday mornings at 10:00 a.m., historian Joanne Freeman has been leading sessions titled, "History Matters...and So Does Coffee," in which she provides insights from everyday kinds of primary source material.

Earlier this month, NCHE hosted a three-day Equity Summit featuring powerful sessions from Hasan Jeffries, Yohuru Williams, LaGarrett King, Joanne Freeman, and many other history teachers and museum educators. You can access the recorded presentations from the NCHE Equity summit website.

If you find the work of NCHE valuable, consider a becoming a member to support the organization's financial needs.

Seizing the Moment: Teaching Race and Racism Today

Recorded video from Professor Hasan Jeffries' presentation at the NCHE Equity Summit: Seizing the Moment: Teaching Race and Racism Today


Origins at The Ohio State University

Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective is a free, online, non-profit educational media outlet created and managed by the History Departments at The Ohio State University and Miami University. Origins produces a variety of articles from history experts who analyze pressing current events topics from a broader, deeper context.

In addition to the archive of articles, podcasts, and videos that touch on every major geographic location, the Origins website houses "Teacher Tools," ready-made lesson plans created by pre-service teachers in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Ohio State. The lesson plans vary in grade level, content, academic skill, use of technology, and instructional strategies. All of these can be found at

This summer, Origins is especially focused on producing "COVID-19 in Historical Context," content that explores the way disease affects U.S. and global societies. These products will be especially well-suited for employment in classrooms, virtual or otherwise.


DocsTeach Webinars

DocsTeach is a free tool from the National Archives that allows students to interact with primary sources in meaningful and engaging ways. Check out these webinars below for more information.
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