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

December 2020

In this edition:

  • Curriculum and Instruction: Clarifying Content Priorities
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Mastery Connect Assessment Platform
  • Curriculum and Instruction: DBQ Online
  • Curriculum and Instruction: Newsletter Third Quarter Text Sets
  • Professional Development: Virtual PD Calendar
  • Virtual Learning Resources: Google Drawings Graphic Organizers
  • Virtual Learning Resources: Social Studies Virtual Learning Padlet of Padlets


Big picture

Clarifying Content Priorities

The Clarifying Content Priorities framework is a helpful tool in planning standards-based instruction. Under constraints, and with high stakes, it is imperative to focus on Priority 1 and 2 content. Priority 2 content consists of paths to mastery of Priority 1. Priority 3 may helpful to add some additional context or enrichment, but it should not be the main focus of instruction.

The constraints of remote learning necessitate periodic review of curriculum and instruction to ensure focused delivery of the most essential content and skills. The documents linked below are designed to help teachers prioritize and streamline.

The high school documents outline the priorities for each unit of the core courses--Modern World History 9, American History 10, and American Government--beginning with second quarter. The middle school document uses a different approach. Instead of outlining each unit, this document highlights the key skills and content in preparation for high school. This is not to suggest that these are the only topics to be addressed, but rather that they should be the primary points of emphasis.

To use the documents, open the links and click on the blue "Use Template" button. This will save a copy to your Google Drive, and allow for customization.


Mastery Connect Assessment Platform

Mastery Connect is the district-adopted platform for developing and delivering assessments to students. Mastery Connect contains two item banks that teachers can use to deliver standards-aligned formative and summative assessments. The Certica item banks contain test items for all core social studies courses. The OH AIR Item Bank contains released test items from Ohio's State Tests in American History and American Government. Teachers can also create their own item banks and access items created by other teachers.

It is important to note that just because an item is identified as aligned to a particular standard, does not make it so. Most publishing companies do an alignment by keyword matching, which is not an effective approach. Consequently, a large percentage of items (including those in the Certica Item Bank) are not actually aligned with Ohio's standards. The responsibility falls to teachers to vet each item before including it on an assessment. The District curriculum documents are especially helpful in helping teachers unpack the learning targets guide assessment alignment.

Mastery Connect is accessible via CCS Clever for teachers and students. A 30-minute video tutorial below provides an overview of Mastery Connect.


DBQ Online

As we continue with virtual learning in second quarter, we want to consider ways of continuing to increase rigor and engagement in the remote setting.

The DBQ Project's full library of DBQs are available for grades 6-12 this year. This includes the full version DBQs in American History and World History, as well as Mini-Qs in American History, World History, Geography, Economics, and Literature. Teachers have the ability to customize these assignments--anything from a single document to a full DBQ with essay task.

Teachers and students access DBQ Online through Clever:

See the updated CCS DBQ Online Home Base page for directions and tutorials.

If you would like to request a DBQ online Demo for your TBT, please email to schedule a time.


Third Quarter Newsela Text Sets

As you know, CCS is providing Newsela subscriptions for all 6-12 social studies classes for 2020-2021, with access through CCS Clever. Custom curated Newsela text sets are available for every CCS 6-12 social studies course. These text sets include about 35-45 vetted articles per grading period.

Newsela text sets for third quarter content are currently under development. These sets will be published throughout December. They will be accessible from the CCS Newsela Home Base page, along with the existing sets and video tutorials.


Professional Development

Virtual PD Calendar

Many national social studies organizations, museums, and other PD providers are offering webinars throughout the coming months. To avoid spam forwards or endless newsletters, these opportunities are organized in a custom Google calendar. Most of these are free webinars; some select virtual conferences have a cost.

You can access this calendar from the link here. A calendar link is also available on the Social Studies homepage under the Featured Resources column on the right side of the page. Be sure to check the calendar regularly as it updated at least once a week.


Virtual Learning Resources

As virtual learning continues, 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.

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.