Social Studies Scoop

A Monthly Bulletin for 6-12 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

December 2019


In this edition:

  • Curriculum and Instruction: The Quest for Relevance
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Big Ideas and Overarching Essential Questions
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Resource Adoption Timeline
  • Ohio's State Tests: Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) and State Tests
  • Professional Development: Middle School Content Experts PD
  • External PD: Echoes & Reflections Free Online Course
  • External PD: C-SPAN Summer Teacher Fellowship
  • External PD: National Constitution Center Summer Teacher Institute


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The Quest for Relevance

Module 6 of The Teacher Clarity Playbook discusses the importance of determining the relevance of learning. Relevancy addresses the motivation to learn. Students need to understand why they are learning particular content and skills.


How do we make social studies relevant to students? Consider the three-part framework above as a planning tool. Throughout the year, we will unpack these three components through professional development, collaborative conversations, and newsletters.


In the November edition of the Social Studies Scoop, we featured the Teaching Columbus website, a resource portal that allows students to make personal connections to the past via local history. November also featured Veterans Day resources that provide opportunities for personal connections.


This month we are highlighting an ongoing project of establishing Big Ideas and Overarching Essential Questions for all social studies courses.


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Big Ideas and Overarching Essential Questions in Social Studies

This year's Department Chair professional development sessions are focused on establishing a vision for social studies and connecting classroom practices with our vision. The first three meetings have focused on Big Ideas and Overarching Essential Questions.


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);

3. Making social studies relevant to student success in college, career, and civic life.


View and download the document below to see the Big Ideas and Overarching Essential Questions developed by Department Chairs. This document will guide the development of social studies curriculum moving forward.

Click on the image to download a PDF


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Resource Adoption Timeline and Survey

CCS has recently resumed the process of resource adoption (formerly known as textbook adoption). This year, English and Mathematics resources are under review for adoption in the 2020-2021 school year.


The current timeline calls for this same process to take place in science and social studies in 2020-2021, with resources purchased for 2021-2022. The formal RFP and committee selection will take place next year. However, the Curriculum Division would like to collect some feedback in advance of this process. To that end, please complete the brief survey here to help us gather input about resource needs.



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Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) and State Tests

The 2019 released state questions include the Depth of Knowledge alignment for each released test question. This information provides an additional layer of data to consider in item analysis. You can download the released test items with DOK alignment here:


Webb's DOK defines how deeply students must know and understand what they are learning in order explain answers and solutions. DOK also describes how extensively students are expected to transfer and use what they have learned in different academic and real world contexts.


DOK levels are defined as:

  • DOK 1: Recall and reproduce data, definitions, details, facts, information, and procedures.
  • DOK 2: Use academic concepts and cognitive skills to answer questions, address problems, accomplish tasks, and analyze texts and topics.
  • DOK 3: Think strategically and reasonably about how and why concepts, ideas, operations, and procedures can be used to attain and explain answers, conclusions, decisions, outcomes, reasons, and results.
  • DOK 4: Think extensively about what else can be done, how else can learning be used, and how could the student personally use what they have learned in different academic and real world contexts.


Karin Hess summarizes Webb's DOK and provides a sample alignment to social studies level descriptors in the article linked here.



Sean Junkins provides good examples of DOK in Social Studies in the graphic below.

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Middle School Content Experts PD

The Middle School Content Experts professional development program provides an opportunity for teachers to strengthen their Pedagogical Content Knowledge. This year, the sessions are focused on Dimension 2 of the C3 Framework: Disciplinary Concepts and Tools, with an emphasis on assessing disciplinary thinking skills.


This year's program began in September, with sessions taking place every other month. Meetings are held on Tuesdays, 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. at Southland Center, 3700 S. High Street. Remaining dates for the year:

  • January 14, 2020 (combined with HS Department Chairs)
  • March 17, 2020
  • May 19, 2020


In session 1, we explored various types of skills assessments, including weighted multiple choice, performance task, and Beyond the Bubble HATs. We also laid the foundation of understanding Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) and its relationship to assessment tasks. Finally, the session wrapped up with a game of Historical Interpretations Battleship, focused on the questions: How radical and how successful was the American Revolution?


In session 2, we focused on building assessments using DOK. Using the Hexagon Connection strategy, teachers examined types of government in tasks that required DOK levels 1-3. (See the image below.) Teachers then worked in grade level teams to develop sample assessments at all DOK levels for a selected state standard.

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External Professional Development

Echoes and Reflections Free Online Course

Prepare to teach the Holocaust with our free online course. Join fellow Holocaust educators in our upcoming course, guided by a facilitator, to support you in guiding students safely in and safely out of this complex and important topic. Participate at your own pace, starting December 2!


Click here to register.


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C-Span Summer Teacher Fellowship

C-SPAN is pleased to announce that the application process for our Summer Teacher Fellowship is now open.


For four weeks in July 2020, Fellowship recipients will collaborate with C-SPAN's education team at our offices in Washington, DC to develop new teaching materials using C-SPAN resources. Each Fellow receives a stipend of $7,000 to cover housing, travel and living expenses. Fellows also participate in C-SPAN's Summer Educators' Conferences where they share their ideas and experiences using C-SPAN's programs with conference attendees.



Application Requirements

    All candidates must be:

  • A member of C-SPAN Classroom
  • A state certified middle or high school teacher of U.S. History, Civics, Government or related curriculum
  • Experienced with integrating C-SPAN's programming and resources into educational curriculum
  • Available for four consecutive weeks from July 6 through July 31, 2020


The application for the Summer Educators' Conference will be available in January 2020. For additional information about the Fellowship, please visit the Teacher Opportunities page on the C-SPAN Classroom website.

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Summer Teacher Institutes at the National Constitution Center

The education team at the National Constitution Center is thrilled to host four Summer Teacher Institutes in July 2020. These weeklong professional development opportunities provide educators the chance to experience the museum and the surrounding historic district, learn from constitutional scholars from across the philosophical spectrum, and collaborate with their peers from around the country. Dates and topics for July 2020 are:


July 5–10: Federalism

July 12–17: Federalism

July 19–24: First Amendment

July 26–31: Battles for Freedom and Equality


Applications are available online and are due by Friday, December 20, 2019. Applicants will be notified of the status of their application on Friday, January 17, 2020.


Click here for more information and applications.


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