Austin ISD Social Studies Weekly

February 8-14

REMINDER: Evening for Educators at Bullock this Wednesday!

Join us for a FREE event exclusively for teachers. Explore the Museum’s special spring exhibitions focusing on the changing borders and border communities of Texas.

Life and Death on the Border 1910-1920 re-examines the events and context that represent some of the worst racial violence in United States history. Through displays of rare artifacts, photographic records, court documents, newspapers, family histories, and eye witness accounts, this poignant exhibition provides a fresh perspective on a little-known story that shaped the Mexican American civil rights movement and continues to have lasting impact today.

February 10, 2016 5:00pm - 8:00pm

Bullock Museum

Free parking in museum garage

Come anytime from 5-8pm, but you won’t want to miss these scheduled events:

  • 5:00-5:30 pm Refreshments and explore the exhibitions
  • 5:30-8:00pm Hear guest speakers from the University of Texas, the Texas General Land Office, and the Bullock Museum. Learn content information, and rotate through breakout sessions with hands-on activities to take back to your classrooms.
  • 7:00-8:00 pm Help us welcome back an old favorite! Preview the film, Born to Be Wild,which will be playing in the Museum's IMAX Theatre during the month of March.

RSVP please

Would you like UT Law students to facilitate civil discourse in your classroom for one or two periods?

We would like to engage your students in an exercise of civil discourse. Issues that are changing the fabric of our country, including race, gender and social equality are mostly addressed through rhetoric and sometimes even through violent acts. Little is being done to promote understanding in a respectful, thoughtful and civil way. UT Law students would like to come to your class and do just that.

As Texas precedes the nation in experiencing the demographic shift from minority to majority and traditional classifications are becoming blended, we have a window of opportunity to have our students examine the implications of these shifts in their lives. The students we are all teaching now will be the leaders when this transition occurs. In 15-20 years’ time they will be our politicians, judges, teachers and voters. The time for us to prepare them for this transition is now.

The law students have been studying issues of race, gender, and socio-economic classification and training to help facilitate discussions. With your help, we would like to experiment with a framework within which we hope students can address hot issues in a civil and constructive dialogue. Using a series of questions and scenarios, the law students will guide students through a discussion on specific topics, such as

  • Do we still need racial or gender classifications? If so, do we stick with the old ones or find alternatives? Who decides? How do we decide?
  • What are the politics of self-identification v. societal identification?
  • Are race and gender the best definer of diversity or is socioeconomic status a better measure?

You can choose the topics that best fit your class and student body. We can frame the questions more broadly to start and can “ease” into more challenging topics and scenarios depending on the class. Here are some examples of more generic prompts:

  • Power: what is the school hierarchy (within the student population)? What individuals are seen as powerful? What groups are seen as powerful? What makes them powerful?

This might start the conversation of shifting power bases – what happens to people/groups who are no longer seen as powerful? What might they do to retain power?

  • Representation: think about powerful people with whom you identify. What attracts you to them? How effective are they in representing you – this can be in the context of the school, community, or nation – this is to draw out potential comments like: they look like me, they think like me, they come from my neighborhood.

We can do this in a single class period or over two class periods depending on your syllabus. We can also provide some preview articles and background information to provide context and data for the discussions. Our goal is to make this a productive and easy class session for the day(s) after STAAR or AP testing. The ideal day(s) would be between April 25-May 6.

This curriculum covers general government, civics, current events, and humanities topics.

If you are interested, please email Tracy McCormack from the UT Law Center at

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Austin ISD Secondary 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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