Austin ISD Social Studies News

Vol. 9, October 2015

Welcome to 2015-2016 Austin ISD Social Studies!

We look forward to working with you throughout the school year to provide the highest-quality curriculum and instruction to our AISD students! We are #AISDProud!

In this issue of our AISD Social Studies Newsletter, we have included information about upcoming professional development opportunities inside Austin ISD as well as in the community, information about teacher and student contest opportunities such as National History Day, highlighted online instructional materials, and links to resources to celebrate Hispanic American Heritage Month. Also, please check out our updated social studies website!

Austin ISD Secondary Learning Opportunities

History Alive! Level One Training: Fall 2015 (2 day training)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015

8:30am – 3:30pm

Section # 77773

Location: Baker

Just in Time Social Studies: Reach for the STAAR 2015 (For all secondary teachers)

Focus on Assessment writing to support student success

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

9:00am – 4:00pm

Section # 78159

Location: Baker

How to Talk About Race, Reconstruction, and Relevance in the Classroom

Tuesday, Oct. 6th, 6-8pm

603 North Lamar Boulevard

Austin, TX

BookPeople and AISD are collaborating on a program to offer campus curriculum enhancements for the picture book, The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch, written by local author Chris Barton and illustrated by local artist Don Tate.

This event is featuring a panel discussion with Shirley E. Thompson, Associate Professor of American Studies and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas, members of AISD’s Cultural Proficiency and Inclusion Principals Council, and the book’s author and illustrator.

Additional resources about teaching Reconstruction will be available. Space is limited to 50 educators. The Social Studies Department will provide a complimentary copy of the book to those who register for and attend this event.

Please register in HCP (Section #78864) or RSVP here and we will register you for this event!

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Learning Opportunities outside of AISD

UT Humanities Institute: "Black Futurities Past and Present: Thinking Through Reparations"

The Humanities Institute continues its Distinguished Visiting Lecture series on the theme of "Imagined Futures" with a lecture by Dr. David Scott, Professor of Anthropology at Columbia University, and founder and editor of small axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism.

For more information, click here.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015, 7:00-9:00pm

Avaya Auditorium, Peter O'Donnell, Jr. Building 2.302

Corner of 24th and Speedway, University of Texas campus

Parking in the San Jacinto garage, 24th and San Jacinto

Bullock Texas State History Museum

Evening for Educators: Twentieth Century Arts and Leisure: Wed. Oct. 21, 5 pm - 8 pm; Bullock Texas State History Museum; Join us for a FREE event exclusively for teachers, and explore the Museum’s fall special exhibitions.

Dinner and a Movie! Social Studies Film and Lecture Series: Living in the Age of Airplanes: Teachers will view this fascinating IMAX film of how flight has changed us -- what once was migration is now a vacation. After viewing the film, teachers will adjourn to the education room of the museum for discussion and dinner. We will meet at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 Congress Ave, and parking is provided at no charge by the Museum. While there is no compensation for attending, the dinner and the movie are free. Open to all AISD instructional staff, sponsored by AISD Social Studies and the Bullock Texas State History Museum. Gathering starts at 4:30 and the movie itself will start at 5:00.

Monday, October 26, 2015 4:30-7:00 HCP Section #78931

Upcoming Teacher Opportunities

UT Center for European Studies: 2015-16 Curriculum Development Grants

Deadline: November 20, 2015

CES is pleased to be able to award Curriculum Development Grants in the amount of $250 to Texas K-12 teachers.

This year, proposed units should tie-in with the new Digital Speakers Bureau, an online resource with videos from UT/Austin-area faculty on a number of European topics. Curriculum units should be focused on one of the topics available on the DSB (as of September 2015) and completed units will be available for download on the site.

Proposed curriculum units are to be developed over the 2015-16 AY. The chosen teacher(s) will submit working copies to CES during the AY with final edited versions submitted by June 30, 2016.

Units may be an overview or focus on a specific aspect of:
  • Communism (as it relates to Europe)
  • The European Union
  • The History of Art Looting
  • Dracula and Vampires
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • The Italian Renaissance

For more information on each topic, please visit

The topics and, therefore, the units must be focused solely on Europe.
All Texas K-12 teachers may apply.
Please visit the Center for European Studies website to apply. For questions, please contact Sally Dickson at or 512-232-4311.

Generation Study Abroad Grant Opportunities

Deadline: December 1, 2015

Part of Generation Study Abroad, the IIE AIFS Foundation Generation Study Abroad Enrichment Grants is a professional development program to support U.S. secondary level (grades 6-12) teachers who have shown to be outstanding advocates for study abroad. Teachers are powerful motivators when it comes to encouraging students to pursue any and all types of global study be it through a classroom project in second grade or on a study abroad program in college.

The goal of the program is to help raise global awareness in the classroom and prepare students for global citizenship and study abroad. Teachers who receive an enrichment grant can conduct any learning activity in the US or abroad that enhances their international outlook and global experience. Through their experiences, they will be able to further internationalize their classroom and advance their role as global educators to positively impact student learning.

Awards Available: Fifty (50) grants of $1,000.

To be eligible you must have taken the Generation Study Abroad pledge.
For more information:

Humanities Texas 2016 Outstanding Teacher Nominations Open

Do you know an outstanding teacher in your school or community? Nominate him or her for one of our 2016 Outstanding Teaching Awards!

Deadline: December 11, 2015

In 2016, Humanities Texas will present a total of fifteen awards to exceptional Texas K–12 humanities teachers in three different categories:

  • Outstanding Teaching of the Humanities Award
    (12 recipients). This award recognizes exemplary contributions of teachers in Texas elementary, middle, and high schools.
  • Linden Heck Howell Outstanding Teaching of Texas History Award (1 recipient). This award was established in memory of Ms. Howell, former chair of the Humanities Texas Board of Directors, as a lasting tribute to her service to the organization and her commitment to the study of Texas history.
  • Award for Outstanding Early-Career Teaching
    (2 recipients). This award recognizes exemplary contributions of early-career humanities teachers in Texas who have completed three or fewer years of teaching.

All award winners will receive a $5,000 prize, with an additional $500 for their schools to purchase humanities-based instructional materials.

For more information on the awards, including eligibility and a list of past recipients, please visit the Teaching Awards section of our website or email

To nominate a teacher, please complete the online nomination form. The deadline for completing the online nomination form is Friday, December 11, 2015.

Upcoming Student Contest Opportunties

DAR 15-16 Christopher Columbus Essay Contest

Discuss the similarities and differences between Christopher Columbus' voyage to the new world and Charles Lindbergh's first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean. What effect did the 400 years between their accomplishments have on what each man hoped to achieve, the challenges they faced, and the skills essential to their success?

"Columbus and Lindbergh: A Journey Across the Atlantic"

Open to Grades 9-12

Length: Between 800 and 1200 words

For information contact: Suzanne Faught

Submission Deadline: November 15, 2015

For more information, check out this packet.


Each year we welcome hundreds of high school students for an annual conference that provides them with a unique opportunity to experience the challenges of international negotiation. During this three day CTMUN event, participants role-play as ambassadors from United Nation member states, researching their country’s position on a host of global issues. Student “delegates” write position papers, negotiate with others, address committees through speeches and caucusing, and navigate the UN’s rules of procedure. The CTMUN conference fosters important skills in research, public speaking, and debate.

November 20-22, 2015 at the AT&T Executive Education & Conference Center

$75 per delegate
$20 per school
Due Date: TBD

Register for the conference here.


National History Day 2016: Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History

2016 National History Day Theme Sheet

2016 National History Day Sample Topics

2016 National History Day Theme Book

National History Day Contest Rule Book

2016 Cen-Tex Letter to Teachers and Contest Rules

If you would like any support to initiate National History Day projects in your class or at your campus, please contact Melanie Kirchhof by email.

Important Dates!

December 9, 2015 - Registration opens to enter the Cen-Tex History Day Fair

February 27, 2016 - Cen-Tex History Day Fair

April 30, 2016 - Texas History Day

June 12-16, 2016 - National History Day


Back by popular demand, the World of 7 Billion student video contest can help you bring technology and creativity into your middle and high school classes. The contest challenges your students to create a short (60 seconds or less) video illustrating the connection between world population growth and one of three global challenges dealing with either Deforestation, Public Health, or Water Scarcity. Students can win up to $1,000 and their teachers will receive free curriculum resources.

Full contest guidelines, resources for research, past winners, and more can be found at

Deadline for submissions: Thursday, February 25, 2016.

Government: Texas High School Mock Trial

Each year thousands of high school students from across the state participate each year in this highly motivating, energetic, and challenging academic competition! The program provides a great way for students to gain an “insider’s view” of our judicial system, plus, they build great public speaking and analytical skills all while having a lot of fun.

Mock Trial Brochure

November 21, 2015: Region 13 Mock Trial Clinic

Region 13 Mock Trial competitions: TBD - between Jan. 8 and Feb. 6, 2016

Questions? Contact the State Coordinator, Melissa Garcia at

Recommended Online Resources

US History / US Government: Religion versus Equality?


This toolkit reminds history and government teachers that they can—and should—teach with confidence about religious freedom and how it can come into conflict with other rights.


It’s important to study the history of religious freedom from a legal perspective. In your classroom, you can point to the U.S. Supreme Court cases and legislation mentioned in “Religion versus Equality?

The activities in this toolkit engage students in understanding primary sources and recognizing patterns and trends across time. The activities culminate with students evaluating how some religious freedom claims are wrapped up in the backlash against the advancement of LGBT rights.

Essential Questions

  1. How has the right to freedom of religion come into conflict with other rights in the United States?
  2. How has the U.S. Supreme Court resolved conflicts around religious freedom and other rights in the past?
  3. How are claims for religious freedom being used to limit the advancement of LGBT rights?

To see the activities, check out the online toolkit from Teaching Tolerance.

NEW: Interactive U.S. Constitution!

On this site, constitutional experts interact with each other to explore the Constitution’s history and what it means today. For each provision of the Constitution, scholars of different perspectives discuss what they agree upon, and what they disagree about. These experts were selected with the guidance of leaders of two prominent constitutional law organizations—The American Constitution Society and The Federalist Society. This project is sponsored by a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Hispanic American Heritage Month Sept 15-Oct 15!

You can find teaching resources for Hispanic Heritage here

Austin ISD Secondary Social Studies

Middle School Specialist - David Levee

High School Specialist - Melanie Kirchhof

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

Also, if you enjoy receiving resources more frequently than once a month, follow us on Twitter @AISDSoc !