Happy Civic Learning Week!

Today marks day 1 of Civic Learning Week! It has already been a busy one for us. 

The first mark we made on the week came in the form of an Oped I wrote in The Fulcrum that explored the essential nature of social studies skills for cultivating civic dispositions. In a recent oped on the same site, a binary of skills vs. content was established that I don’t think fully captures the goals of the social studies classroom. In today’s blog I responded and outlined just why the skills of our discipline are so essential. Give it a read.

Next, at 9am PT, I joined Dr. Larry Paska of the National Council for Social Studies for a webinar on the state of social studies education. If you’ve been following our blogs recently, you know we’ve hosted a mini podcast series on this topic, where I interviewed various thinkers about the subject. In fact, we released episode 6 of the series on Friday, March 8th. In that interview, I really enjoyed my conversation with Shawn Healy of iCivics. Shawn serves as Senior Director for Policy and Advocacy and he brought a really helpful policy perspective to the conversation. Take a listen!

Back to the webinar with Dr. Paska. We started with a brief interview of Dr. Bill Daggett of the Successful Practices Network. We wanted to hear what an outside perspective had to say about the current state of social studies education and were grateful to Dr. Daggett for sharing his own perspective built on decades of experience in the broader education reform movement. 

From there, Larry and I explored the research from Thinking Nation’s white paper, NCSS’s annual survey, and three studies that specifically looked at the state of social studies education in the elementary classroom. The studies are:

  1. 2020 Fordham Institute Study: “Social Studies Instruction and Reading Comprehension: Evidence from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study”
  2. 2023 Rand Corporation Study: “The Missing Infrastructure for Elementary (K–5) Social Studies Instruction”
  3. 2023 CCSSO Guidelines: “Effective Social Studies Integration in Elementary Classrooms”

It was really helpful to take all the data together and think through its meaning and how we can best move forward as a discipline. There are so many exciting events for Civic Learning Week and it was exciting to kick off the week with NCSS!

Moving on to midday, Larry and I were the primary guest’s for KPBS’s Midday edition. KPBS is San Diego’s public radio station and it was such a treat to speak with host, Jade Hindmon. The recording of the interview should be uploaded as a podcast soon, and I’d encourage you to listen to this more focused (and less data-oriented) conversation around social studies and civic education. I’m grateful to KPBS for prioritizing Civic Learning Week in their programming!

Lastly, tonight, Thinking Nation will take over the #sschat feed on X for 10 or so minutes as part of Civic Learning Week. Follow the hashtag #sschat on the app from 5-6pm PT to engage with several organizations who are trying to think together about how we can make the most of this important week. 

Student Art Contest – Final Days!

It’s of course a busy week, and we hope that for your students it is too! Friday is the last day that students can submit an art piece for our annual art contest! As a reminder, We teamed up with the National Alliance for Charter Schools again this year to host a nationwide student art contest for middle and high school students. (Check out last year’s!)  This year’s National Charter School Conference will be in Boston, MA from June 30-July 3. Since the conference leads right into Independence Day in one of the nation’s most revolutionary cities, we decided to build our theme around the future of American democracy. Students can create a creative work of art that addresses the prompt: What does the future of American Democracy look like?

Submissions for this Student Art Contest for Democracy will be accepted until March 15th and the top 20 will be featured at the National Charter Schools Conference! The top 2 will even win cash prizes! For full details on the contest, check out the contest flyer. Be sure to have your students submit!