The Social Studies Connection

A Newsletter for Secondary Social Studies Teachers in CCS

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

If you missed last month's edition of the Social Studies Connection, click here.

Matthew I. Doran

Secondary Social Studies Specialist

Office of Teaching & Learning

Curriculum Division

Southland Center

October 2020


In this edition:

  • Professional Development: Visible Learning for Social Studies PD Day - October 16
  • Professional Development: Newsela PD Day - October 16
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Newsela Strategies and Tips
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Social Studies Textbook Adoption
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Election 2020 Resources
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Free Digital Unit on Slavery from the Choices Program
  • Virtual Learning Resources: Google Drawings Graphic Organizers
  • Virtual Learning Resources: Google Slides Choice Activity Templates
  • Virtual Learning Resources: Social Studies Virtual Learning Padlet of Padlets


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Professional Development Day - October 16

Introduction to the Visible Learning Framework for Social Studies

October 16 is a districtwide Professional Development Day. Social Studies will offer two sessions on the Visible Learning Framework:


  • Introduction to Visible Learning for Social Studies, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m.
    Three phases of learning: surface level, deep learning, and transfer

  • Digging Deeper with Visible Learning for Social Studies, 12:30 - 3:30 p.m.
    Includes grade-level breakout discussion groups


A Zoom link will be provided by email.


Visible Learning for Social Studies, Grades K-12 shows how the field is more than simply memorizing dates and facts—it encapsulates the skillful ability to conduct investigations, analyze sources, place events in historical context, and synthesize divergent points of view.


The Visible Learning framework demonstrates that learning is not an event, but rather a process in which students move from surface-level learning to deep learning, and then onto the transfer of concepts, skills, and strategies. Encouraging learners to explore different facets of society, history, geography, and more, best practices for applying visible learning to social studies curriculum are presented through:

  • A scaffolded approach, including surface-level learning, deep learning, and transfer of learning
  • Examples of strategies, lessons, and activities best suited for each level of learning
  • Planning tools, rubrics, and templates to guide instruction


If you would like to get a head start on the Visible Learning framework, co-author Julie Stern will be hosting a Zoom book club starting October 14. See the information below for free registration.

Visible Learning Book Club

Visible Learning co-author Julie Stern will be hosting free book discussions via Zoom.


Here are the details:


  • October 14: Kick-off and Overview
  • October 21: Chapters 1 and 2
  • October 28: Chapter 3
  • November 4: Chapters 4 and 5

7 pm Eastern/4 pm Pacific


Each session will last one hour.


Click here to register.


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Newsela PD

Newsela will offer beginner and intermediate sessions for the October 16 PD day. These will be 1 hour afternoon sessions 12:30 - 1:30 and 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. More details and Zoom links are forthcoming by email.


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Newsela Text Sets Integration

CCS is providing Newsela (pronounced news-ella) subscriptions for 6-12 social studies classes for 2020-2021, with access through CCS Clever.


Here are some helpful strategies and tips for Newsela success.


  1. All log-ins are through Clever. Syncing with Google Classroom does not work. Syncing is just roster linking. You can still post assignments to Google Classroom, but it may be just as easy to post the title of the assignment in Google Classroom with a link to Clever: http://clever.com/in/columbuscity. The assignment will show on students' Newsela dashboards. There is no grade passback between Newsela and Google Classroom.

  2. There are two options for assigning articles based on Lexile level, Newsela Recommended and Adjust Level. For the first few assignments, it is better to use Adjust Level and assign all students the same level. The allows for level-setting so the system can accurately assign future articles using the Newsela Recommended level. It is also important to keep in mind that decreasing the Lexile below grade level has drawbacks. To quote Mike Shanahan, "Concluding that a weightlifter is doing well because he can successfully execute 15 arm curls would be foolish, because it matters if those curls are done with 5 pounds or 50 pounds of weight." In other words, reducing the Lexile (weight), may help students read the text, but it may also detract from our ability to know if students are mastering concepts and skills at the necessary level of understanding.

  3. Custom curated Newsela text sets are available for every CCS 6-12 social studies course. While there is more to explore in the Newsela databases, starting with the CCS Newsela Homebase will make it easier to navigate. See the link below. This link can also be accessed from the Social Studies homepage under the "Featured Resources" on the right.
Click here for CCS Social Studies Newsela Homebase

This site includes text sets organized by unit for each CCS Social Studies course, along with video tutorials and support.

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Social Studies Textbook Adoption

Columbus City Schools has posted an RFP for 6-12 Social Studies Textbook adoption (using the term "textbook" loosely) for the first time since 2009. This adoption will move us to a long-term and comprehensive solution.


The adoption won't replace the classroom teacher or the District curriculum. Instead, it offers us another layer of support to help us build collective capacity and empowerment. While the selection of resources is important, we teach to the standards, not the textbook.


Soon, you will receive information outlining the procedures to apply for this evaluation committee and be empowered to select the best resources to meet our needs. Stay tuned!

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Election 2020

With a month to go before election day, here are some resources for teaching about this year's Presidential election:


  • Model Diplomacy: Election 2020 Pop-Up Cases Series - A series of news-based pop-up cases on important foreign policy questions that will be on the president’s agenda next term.

  • National Constitution Center: Live Scholar Exchanges - Scholar Exchanges give students the opportunity to learn about constitutional issues, while interacting with a constitutional expert, historian, or federal judge.

  • PBS Learning: Election Central - Keep up with with election news, study the history and process of presidential elections, explore voting rights, and engage in classroom debates with these videos, activities, and lesson plans.

  • New York Times: Teach and Learn with the 2020 Election - Writing Prompts, Challenges, Lesson Plans and Other Resources for Teachers and Students

  • Scholastic: Elections - Track local and national elections or host an election in your classroom with students, historical figures, or book characters as candidates! You can also encourage independent research with assorted articles from Scholastic GO! and an election book list.

  • iCivics Election Headquarters - Dive into the election curriculum with these print-and-go lesson plans that include simulations, vocabulary development, graphic organizers, and active participation opportunities.

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Free Digital Unit on Slavery from the Choices Program

Racial Slavery in the Americas: Resistance, Freedom, and Legacies from the Choices program is now available FREE. This unit was developed in collaboration with the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice (CSSJ) at Brown University. Click on the link here, then click the red purchase button. You will be able to select the digital edition free one-year subscription. Choices will email you with online access, and you can set up your classes to access the unit with no-sign required.


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Virtual Learning Resources

As virtual learning continues, and with a transition to hybrid learning, the resources below can assist with teaching and learning.

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.

Google Slides Choice Activities Templates

The Google Slides templates below can be used to provide students with choice-based activities. Teachers can include directions in the templates, and students can complete or link their work directly in the slides.


Templates include:

  • Choice Board;
  • Menu of Options;
  • Layered Curriculum; and
  • Digital Interactive Student Notebook


In Google Classroom, teachers can link a slide deck in an assignment as "Each student gets a copy." From the links below, teachers can click on the "Use Template" button and make a copy of each slide deck.

Social Studies Virtual Learning Padlet of Padlets

Check on the master padlet below for links to additional social studies virtual learning resources. These include curated collections of reading and resources collections, video tutorials, and interactive social studies apps.