July 2021
Civics In The Middle Newsletter
A newsletter for Illinois teachers to support the implementation of the state’s middle and high school civics course requirements and K-12 social science standards.
Update on Proposed Revisions to the Illinois Social Science Standards
The Illinois State Board of Education recently reviewed proposed revisions to the Illinois Social Science standards. The changes were crafted by a committee of educators representing the diversity of the Land of Lincoln under the leadership of Elizabeth Hiler, Principle Consultant of Social Science, and Erica Thieman, Director Of K-12 Curriculum and Instruction at the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE).

In April and May, Illinois Civics Hub (ICH) hosted a series of online feedback sessions for educators to discuss the revisions and provide comments to ISBE before their June meeting. A copy of the feedback documents and ISBE's response to the educator feedback can be found online linked in the June 16th ISBE Board Meeting Agenda. The ICH was not part of the standards revision committee.

Dr. Charles Tocci, Ed.D., Assistant Professor, School of Education, Loyola University Chicago is hosting a session, Revising Illinois' Social Science Standards: Meeting the needs of all our students July 13th from 4-5:00 p.m. CT. Dr. Tocci served on the standards revision committee and will be joined by other committee members to discuss the changes they made and explain why it is important for Illinois to be a leader in teaching inclusive and empowering social studies.

For specific questions about the standards revision process, please email rules@isbe.net 
Professional Development Opportunities
Civics In The Middle #Poolside PD Series

It is not too late to register for the Illinois Civics Hub summer PD series to support the implementation of the 6-12 civics mandates. Join the Illinois Civics Instructional Coaches for a series of webinars (poolside viewing is optional!) designed to enhance teacher practice with resources to support disciplinary content knowledge and the proven practices of civic education.

There will be two strands of professional development. On Tuesday morning, powerful pedagogy will be the focus to help with summer curriculum projects. July topics include:

Wednesday morning webinars will put the spotlight on some of the leading civic learning providers in the nation. Each will address a thematic question from the Educating for American Democracy Roadmap. July topics include:

Each session will begin at 9:30 a.m. CT. Educators can join live to interact with participants or watch a recording of each session. Each webinar is free, and Illinois educators can elect to earn PD credits for attending the webinar and completing a brief, post-webinar application activity.

A description for each webinar and information to register for professional development credits through the DuPage Regional Office of Education is available on the Illinois Civics Hub Professional Development calendar.

If you missed one of our webinars, you can create your own #PoolsidePD and view a recording by accessing our Webinar Archive.

Earn Your Microcredentials: Become a Guardian of Democracy Educator

The Illinois Civics Hub has partnered with the Lou Frey Institute at the University of Central Florida to provide educators the opportunity to earn their microcredentials in the proven practices on civic education embedded in the middle and high school civics course requirements in Illinois. Courses include:
  • Current and Controversial Issue DiscussionsLearn from academic experts Dr. Diana Hess & Dr. Paula McAvoy as you explore the purpose, role, and function of discussion strategies as pedagogical tools to equip young people to be engaged citizens. This course will enhance the practice of educators with strategies and resources to create a classroom climate in which there are equitable opportunities for ALL students to engage in dialogue about essential questions across the curriculum.
  • Simulations of Democratic ProcessesLearn from academic experts Dr. Walter Parker & Dr. Jane Lo as you explore how democratic processes and procedures occur as part of the regular functioning of government, in each of the three branches of government, and at each level of government. This course will guide you through the purpose, planning, and implementation of three simulations: town hall meetings, legislative hearings, and moot courts.
  • Informed Action through Service LearningLearn from academic experts Dr. Joseph Kahne and Jessica Marshall as you explore the purpose, role, and function of informed action through service learning as a pedagogical tool to equip young people with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to be active members of their community. In this course, you will interact with strategies and tools that you can use in your classroom to support student-centered informed action through service learning.

The summer cohorts will begin July 12 and run through August 13. Registration information is available on the Illinois Civics Hub Professional Development calendar. Those who successfully complete the 5-week, asynchronous online course will earn a Bronze Certified Guardian of Democracy Educator badge via Badgr and the University of Central Florida Center for Distributive Learning. Participants can earn 15 PD hours through the DuPage Regional Office of Education.

Each course is the first in a three-course series. Graduate credit is available through the University of St. Francis for completing all three courses. For more information, please visit the Guardians of Democracy homepage.

ABA Virtual Summer Institute for Teachers

The ABA Division for Public Education is excited to announce the first Judge Grady Summer Teachers Institutevirtual this year! This year's institute, featuring Erwin Chemerinsky from Berkeley Law and Mary Ellen Daneels from the Illinois Civics Hub, will explore the First Amendment rights to assembly and association. Learn more and register at: https://bddy.me/3fMiEbw

Constitutional Democracy Project Summer Professional Development

The Constitutional Democracy Project is hosting a series of free professional development workshops this summer.
  • Virtual Supreme Court Institute- This professional development session will acquaint high school teachers with three US Supreme Court cases from the current term and offer ideas for teaching this content in the classroom. Attend one, two, or three days of programming. Cases include NCAA v. Alston, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, and Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L.
  • Constitution Bootcamp- This 2-day institute is FREE and open to middle school teachers or anyone needing a refresher on the Constitution. Discussions with constitutional experts and classroom teaching strategies will be featured each day.
  • Using Primary Sources: Understanding the LGBTQ+ Equality Movement- The Constitutional Democracy Project with a grant from the Library of Congress, and using Teaching with Primary Sources rich digital LGBTQ+ collections, will hold a series of professional development sessions to create lesson plans to explore the place of the LGBTQ+ equality movement in American history; milestones for the LGBTQ+ community itself; and court cases that secured civil rights for LGBTQ+ people. This is session one of three sessions, and teacher stipends will be provided to those educators who attend all three sessions and participate in creating lesson content.

Binge-Worthy Recommendations
Summer is a time for many of us to relax, reflect and recalibrate. Listening to podcasts or watching a long-anticipated TV show or movie series is a welcome respite for many educators. We asked some of our regional civics instructional coaches for their “binge-worthy” recommendations. Here are their picks.

Candace Fikis- Southern Cook, Grundy, Iroquois, Kankakee, Kendall & Will Counties
  • Take a Listen: Freakonomics is not fully a civics podcast, but many episodes cover current and controversial issues with an economics lens. Some sample episode topics include the minimum wage, healthcare, reparations, and rent control. You can also get a transcript of the podcast. Understanding the costs of problems and possible solutions to those problems is so important to make an informed decision.
  • Worth a Watch: I would also second Whose Vote Counts, Explained by Netflix and Voxand it pairs nicely with a lot of online material from Vox (see Matthew Wood’s recommendations below).

Tracy Freeman: Champaign, DeWitt, Ford, Livingston, Logan, Macon, McLean, Piatt & Vermillion Counties

  • Take a Listen: My go-to podcast for short walks with my dog is Civics 101. Nick Capodice and Hannah McCarthy are amazing hosts of a very informational podcast. They have excellent expert guests on the podcast, and online they have teacher-written lesson plan ideas etc. 
  • Worth a WatchConstitution USA.I enjoy the humorous stories used by Peter Sagal that keep the Constitution alive and well. This gives amazing heart-gripping stories about the impact of the Constitution today. Stories of felons who have been disenfranchised or keeping up with the rights in today’s technology world will keep you engaged. My students requested extra videos on sub days
  • Want a full-length movie? I took the time to rewatch Just Mercy. It is so powerful and many students are reading this tale of the Alabama legal system from the 1980s to today. The United States vs Billie Holiday is a new movie. I can’t use it in my school, but it is an amazing story. Also, a 2016 movie that shows a “dark money” story about lobbyists and power in an entertaining manner is Miss Sloane. I tricked my spouse into thinking it was just entertainment! 

Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz: Clark, Clay, Coles, Crawford, Cumberland, Douglas, Edgar, Edwards, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jasper, Lawrence, Massac, Moultrie, Pope, Richland, Saline, Shelby, Wabash, Wayne & White Counties

  • Take a ListenAmended, from Humanities New York, is on the fight for woman suffrage in the US. Offers stories and a narrative we often don’t learn in school, and looks at historical figures who also fought for racial and class justice, too. Great historical background for modern discussion of voting rights. 
  • Worth a Watch: I am a little behind on this but am planning to watch the Netflix series Amend: The Fight for America. The documentary series looks at fights for equal rights in America, mixing history and civics topics and framing all around the 14th Amendment.

Heather Monson: Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle, Rock Island, Stephenson & Whiteside Counties

  • Take a Listen: I have been diving into the FiveThirtyEight podcast recently. It is one that I think gives a wide variety of political news along with the backstory on current topics. 
  • I also listen to The New Yorker Politics and More podcast. This one also does a great job of looking at current political events and gives supporting background. Each episode is around 17 minutes so it is a little shorter than other podcasts, which is nice when you are listening during errands.  
  • My favorite historian, Heather Cox Richardson has a new podcast with Joanne Freeman. They do an amazing job of taking a nugget of current political happenings and do a deep dive into the history that connects. These are amazingly detailed and really help us to understand Reconstruction and the threat to modern democracy. The discussion of why the KKK wears white sheets is surprising and really helps you understand the political terror they were using. Their new podcast is Now & Then. Currently, there are three episodes and more to come each week. This week they are tackling “Battle Over Critical Race Theory." 
  • On a totally different podcast spectrum, I have greatly enjoyed a podcast called Ologies with Alie Ward. Each week a different “ologist” is invited to talk about their field, study, and experiences. It is pretty fascinating to listen to people talk about what they are experts in. Everything is there from language pathology to ursinology (Bears!), to political scientists to snow hydrologists (avalanche specialists). There are many more as well. Longer episodes so it is great for a car trip
  • Worth a Watch: HBOMax has an excellent four-part documentary called Exterminate all the Brutes that examines the exploitative and genocidal aspects of European colonialism from America to Africa. Huge discussion of slavery and Native American relations/removal. Really examines the heart of racism and political power. Has an American perspective as well as a world perspective as it looks at white nationalism, the rise of fascism, and Nazism. 
  • Hulu has a documentary The State of Texas vs. Melissa about the first Hispanic woman sentenced to death in Texas. It has many points about the 8th Amendment and about sentencing. Great for a discussion of punishment and crime. 
  • High on the Hog from Netflix is a really interesting food show that traces the influence of African culture on American food. It has some surprising influences that some would be shocked to see. It gives a rich history of slavery and the origins of racism in America. There is a great episode about the enslaved chefs of Washington and Jefferson. 
  • There is a wonderful movie with Steve Carell written by Jon Stewart called Irresistible.  It got lost in the COVID shut down, but it has some really fun spins to it. It is the story of two opposing political strategists who descend on a small-town election. I am going to show it to my students next year in AP Government. The reviews of the film aren’t that great, but check it out for yourself. It is much better than the reviews.

Matthew Wood- Central Cook, DeKalb, DuPage & Kane Counties

  • Take a Listen: The Argument - From NY Times: Host Jane Coaston brings hot topics and expert opinions to a carefully crafted point-counterpoint style debate in each episode. What is great about these discussions is often the guests demonstrate great debate skills, such as how to respectfully disagree, how to use evidence to support claims, and more generally how to disagree but get along. Most topics are political in nature, but Coaston does a great job moderating and making sure each side is heard.
  • Worth a Watch: Whose Vote Counts, Explained by Netflix and Vox. This is a limited series with three parts. Episode 1 is about the right to vote and “why there is still a fight” for that right today. Episode 2 is about the expenses involved in running an election and how money plays a major role in campaigns. Episode 3 discusses Gerrymandering and the Electoral College and also dives into the balance of power. Each episode is 25 minutes long, which is perfect for supplemental materials.
  • All In: The Fight For Democracy. Stacey Abrams hosts this documentary on her run for Georgia governor back in 2018, and how voter suppression played a role that even impacted the incumbent governor himself. With Georgia being such a hot spot for politics, this is a good look at why that is.

This monthly newsletter from the Illinois Civics Hub at the DuPage Regional Office of Education provides educators with timely professional development opportunities and classroom resources. For weekly updates on emerging research on civics, “teachable moments,” and related materials, follow our blog.