2017 Annual Conference

When: October 30, 2017

Where: Augusta Civic Center


The Conference will be held on Monday as scheduled. We have seen the weather forecast but we do not have any plans to cancel at this time. The Augusta Civic Center has a commercial strength generator ready to go in the event they lose power due to wind. We recognize that people may be traveling from a wide variety of locations and distances and that the storm may affect different parts of the State differently. You should make a decision about your attendance and do what you feel is the safest for you. The MCSS Board will meet and decide after the Conference how to handle it should anyone be unable to attend due to weather conditions. We hope the weather is good enough that everyone is able to attend safely. Thank you!

When it comes to social studies, literacy means more than just using reading strategies. It means preparing our students for the changing world they will live in. Literacy means giving our students knowledge and skills in technology, global and cultural studies, economics, history, civics, and geography. 

Ekhlas Ahmed.jpg

Our keynote speaker is Ms. Ekhlas Ahmed. A refugee and an activist from Darfur, Sudan, she fled with her family to Egypt and lived there for two years before being resettled in Portland, Maine in 2005. She has since graduated high school with honors and earned a degree in sociology with hopes of helping resettle other refugees. She is the vice president and Co-founder of Darfur Youth of Tomorrow, an organization raising awareness in her community of the violence and needs in Darfur. The Darfur Youth of Tomorrow has taken Ahmed to a number of places, most recently to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where she was invited by the UN Refugee Agency to speak about the genocide and read a poem about her homeland. Ahmed teaches English at Casco Bay High School, her alma mater. She also runs a program called "Make It Happen," which prepares multilingual students for college. She is writing a book called The Bridge Between. She was also featured on the Ellen Degeneres Show. 

Also joining us will be Dr. Lawrence Paska, Executive Director for the National Council for the Social Studies. He began his appointment in October 2016.


Larry has also worked as the Director of Social Studies for the Harrison Central School District (Harrison, NY), leading K-12 social studies, business, and library media departments. Most recently, Larry served as the Director of Professional Development for the Southern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), where he and his team provided instructional programs and services for 32 public school districts in the greater New York City region, supported data-driven instruction, developed instructional leadership seminars, and were instrumental in implementing New York State's K-12 Social Studies Framework.

Within the NCSS community, Larry served as the 2015-2016 President of the New York State Council for the Social Studies (NYSCSS), and received NYSCSS' Distinguished Social Studies Service Award in 2017. He also served as the House of Delegates' Resolutions Committee Chair, and has been a member of three Associated Groups: College and University Faculty Assembly (CUFA), Council of State Social Studies Specialists (CS4), and National Social Studies Supervisors Association (NSSSA). He has taught social studies education methods at the university level and holds permanent 7-12 social studies education and school district administrator certifications in New York State. He earned a B.A. in History and an M.A.T. in Social Studies from Union College (Schenectady, NY) and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University at Albany (Albany, NY).

Finally, our own Joe Schmidt, Social Studies Specialist for the Maine Department of Education, will be joining us.


7:30 - 8:15  Registration, breakfast, exhibitor time

8:15 - 8:25  Welcome  and logistics

8:30 - 9:15  KEYNOTE with Ekhlas Ahmed

9:30 - 10:30 Session 1

10:30 - 10:50  Exhibitor time

10:50 - 11:50  Session 2

12:00  - 1:15  Lunch, announcements and awards  

1:30 -2:30  Session 3

2:30- 2:45  Complete evaluations

Workshop Information

K-12 Presentations

Ekhlas Ahmed   “The Bridge Between"  - a follow-up to the Keynote Address                              

I will be  talking about my own journey of being the bridge between but also talking about how your ELL students are the bridge between many of their identities and also their families.

Larry Paska The State of Social Studies in 2017: Resources and Strategies for Advocacy”          

This session will share resources and strategies from the National Council for the Social Studies' Advocacy Toolkit, the latest research on student achievement in social studies, how social studies instruction supports disciplinary literacy and engagement, and ways to build a voice for advocacy to support the social studies standards and C3 Framework in Maine's schools. 

Jessica Pearson “Rethinking the Humanities: It's Not Just History & English”                              

Are you an elementary teacher who is struggling to fit social studies into the school day?  A secondary teacher looking to enhance essential literacy skills into your course?  Trying to figure out how to do it all in a PBL setting?  In this session, we'll look at what a true Humanities approach is, how it is similar and different to what a typical social studies curriculum looks like, and how easy it is to shift what you are currently doing with very little extra work.  Participants will engage in a sample mini lesson and will work with small groups to start brainstorming ways to incorporate the Humanities into their classrooms.

Joe Schmidt  “Questions Are The New Answers”                                                                    

As the world changes faster than we can ever imagine, teachers must equip students with the ability to think on their feet, process new information, and ask great questions. In this session, participants will engage in different examples of how traditional lessons can be shifted away from teacher led to student led with a focus on questioning.

K-5 presentations

Debbie Stevens “Incite Wonder and Provoke Discovery: An Inquiry Method For Teaching Social Studies in Grades K-4”                                                                                                              

Learn about a project-based learning approach to inspire curiosity and encourage student independence while meeting the standards and having fun at the same time. This is a very hands-on, teacher-friendly, and kid-tested session.

Joanne Alex “Exploring Our World Geographically through Children's Literature!”                  

Using children's literature we will introduce the elements of geography--- location (mapping), places and regions, physical systems, human/environmental interaction and movement to our students with lots of hands-on activities and resources.

Sue Lahti “Travel Maine without leaving your school: The Giant Maine Traveling Map”                

Participants will explore the various ways they can enhance their students’ geography skills by using the Giant Traveling Map of Maine. By walking around Maine, teachers will explore Maine using basic map skills such as key and scale. They will walk the Appalachian Trail, explore watersheds and Maine’s rich resources.  

Daniel Qualls “Trickster Folktales and Social Studies”                                                            

This presentation discusses trickster folktales from a variety of cultures (Native American, Latino, and African). It focuses on examples of cross-curricular activities and projects for the K-5th grade classroom which combine both literature and social studies. It will also include critical literacy aspects when it comes to authenticating cultural materials. Jocelyn Gray “ Literacy Strategies to use Historical Fiction to help teach History Participants will see how they can use a variety of historical fiction to teach their content, as well as, how to intergrade in with their ELA content (for the lower levels) or their ELA department (for the upper levels). They will also work on using literacy strategies with historical fiction to help bring greater engagement.  Teachers will do some activities specifically using historical picture books to cover complex historical content/ideas Grade 5-8 presentations.

Grades 5-8

Kathryn Kennedy “Break the Learning Mold with Breakout Boxes”                                    

Harness the popularity of Escape Rooms in your own classroom! Figure out how to activate learning, while using the Four Cs (critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication) to bring history alive in your classroom! Escape rooms have become all the rage lately; come see how you can harness that enthusiasm to fit any historical topic you are currently teaching. 

Guy Hamlin “C3 and Global Competence - Teaching Kids the S.T.R.U.T.”                          

Teachers will become aware of the Global Competence Matrix and how it can be integrated with C3 strategies into a successful project based learning system.  A large part of the session will get teachers working in groups to devise potential working models that will fit the needs of their students, their schools, and their own teaching styles. Come and discover what S.T.R.U.T. means in the classroom!

Kyle Snow and Rick Sawyer “Stories of Maine Civil War Veterans: Understanding National History through Local Primary Sources”                                                                                    

Learn how a middle school and their local historical society taught the Civil War through the stories and primary sources of hometown veterans. We will provide copies of primary sources we used, exemplars of student work and a description of our curriculum and resources for examining primary sources. 

Edith Berger “Trial Run: Thrashing out the truth of the Boston Massacre”                                    

Using strategies to support a close reading of complex texts and comparing documents to determine similarities and discrepancies, participants will select a position and develop individual and collaborative plans in order to interpret an historical event, taking into consideration the multiple viewpoints represented in the evidence.

Eileen Harriman, Jennifer Bishop and Jessica Benway  “Research-based Essay writing Incorporating Literacy & Technology”                                                                                        

This presentation will demonstrate how Social Studies teachers can use literacy and technology in completing research-based argument writing. Our theme for 7th grade is "Should America Still be an Immigration Nation?"  We use the Lucy Calkins "Argument Essay" at the heart of the unit, and incorporate U.S. History, Current Issues, and Technology into the research process.      

Paula Stevens and Katie Wuori “Geo-inquiry: bringing the world into the classroom"          

“More than ever, our world is interconnected and today’s students need to understand how the complex and dynamic human and natural systems interact in order to make smart decisions and function effectively. The study of geography is essential to the comprehension of how our world works...The Geo-Inquiry Process endeavors to help students develop the skills, knowledge, and tools of a geographer. It provides a systematic way to investigate and understand the world through the patterns, processes, and interactions between human and natural systems and then to act on their conclusions."  Come join us to learn more about the Geo-Inquiry process and how to incorporate it into your current curriculum. This is the 2017-2018 NatGeo national intiative. 

Jamie Karaffa   “Japanese Internment Camps: Fred Korematsu's Fight For His Rights”                 

Participants will learn how to use Japanese Internment Camps to teach students to analyze primary documents and then use that information to form an opinion or support a stance!

Grade 6-12 Presentations

Jocelyn Gray “ Literacy Strategies to use Historical Fiction to help teach History"            

Participants will see how they can use a variety of historical fiction to teach their content, as well as, how to intergrade in with their ELA content (for the lower levels) or their ELA department (for the upper levels). They will also work on using literacy strategies with historical fiction to help bring greater engagement.  Teachers will do some activities specifically using historical picture books to cover complex historical content/ideas.

Jim Wells and Catherine Emery “What is that doing there? Exploring location using ArcGIS Online”                                                                                                                                      

Using an online mapping tool, ArcGIS, and the web app Story Maps, participants will be able to explore what makes a place ‘special’ by combining data layers to create an interactive learning object. We will demonstrate how to use the tools, allow time for hands on exploration, and present our student’s projects they created as part of a classroom project. Participants will leave with a good understanding of how to implement a similar project with their students.

Peter Spiegel “Bridging Google Earth and Google MyMaps”                                              

Google Earth is a fascinating platform for geography educators to illustrate and enhance their curriculum. With the recent rollout of the new Google Earth it is now more important than ever to have teachers understand how to create content in both Google Earth and in Google MyMaps. Learn how to build the content you want to communicate in Google MyMaps and link it into the new high definition Google Earth Online Explorer. With its easy to use content creator, similar to building polygons, paths, and placemarks in Google Earth, this session will help educators identify points in their instruction to augment their curriculum with Google Earth and Google MyMaps.

Brandi LeRoy and Bill Guerrette “Using Geospatial Technology to help Students understand their past”                                                                                                                                

In this combined session two teachers, one from middle school and one from high school will demonstrate projects their students have undertaken to study their local history and to solve local problems. The middle school section will focus on some ideas that will connect students to their community's past.  Projects shared will show the use of ArcGIS and collaboration with local merchants and civic groups.  The goal of this presentation is to give participants ideas they can take back to their classrooms on integrating local history into their curriculum. The secondary part will highlight projects students submitted for the ESRI GIS Map competition and how the projects allowed for student choice and understanding of concepts.  It will show teachers ways to use both GIS and google maps to enhance the teaching of social studies concepts, engage in the community, and understand the complex world more thoroughly.

9-12 Presentations

Erin Towns, "Effective Technology Strategies for the 21st Century Learner"

Using technology in the classroom can be overwhelming for teachers. This session will focus on using technology to communicate with a wide variety of students. Emphasis will be placed how to use Google classroom tools for translations for ELL students and easy Classroom management. Interdisciplinary Technology strategies and Resources will also be offered to Increase global competency for 21st-century learners.

Shane Gower & Madison Taylor “Teaching World War II Through the Stories of the Fallen”  

Learn how to engage students in WW2 by connecting them with a local soldier who died in the war. Students develop primary source analysis, and research skills. Resources provided. Sample project work will be shared and participants will model a sample lesson.

Kimberly R. Sebold, Ph.D. and Sammi Cousins Drost  “Proficient in Proficiency: Implementing PBE Into The Social Studies Classroom”                                                                                            

This workshop will address all of the C3, ME Learning Results and CCSS Standards in Social Studies. It will introduce you to the social studies skill sets that can be measured for proficiency based education. These were field tested this past year in Ms. Drost’s classroom.  Rubrics will be discussed.

Barbara Greenstone and Skip L’Hereux   “Unlock the Secrets of the Constitution”                      

We will use a game format that fosters the 4Cs: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity to increase Social Studies Literacy. In this session, participants will experience a breakout game where they will use their knowledge of the Constitution to find clues and solve puzzles and eventually unlock the locks that will allow them to “breakout.” We will also provide resources and advice for teachers who wish to create their own breakout games.  

Margaret Shaw Chernosky “Enrich Your History, Geography and Science Curriculum with Interactive Maps”                                                                                                                      

GeoInquiries are free, short, standards-based inquiry activities for teaching map-based content found in commonly used textbooks. Each activity is designed using a common inquiry model and can be presented quickly from a single computer and projector, or modified for students to engage with hands-on. Participants will explore Geoinquiries and learn how to modify, save and share these lessons. Please come with your laptop or tablet. 

Travis Dube “Questions and Answers:  Teaching Persuasive and Analytical Writing”                    

One of the key ways that students demonstrate their mastery of skills is by writing papers. This includes developing inquiry questions as well as analyzing how to answer prompts.  Any paper in which students make a claim and support it with evidence comes down to their ability to answer the six question words.  The presentation will cover strategies for teaching students how to decipher questions and build persuasive responses of varied lengths. 

Geoff Wingard “Ideal landscapes in East Asia: A hands-on approach to geography and culture studies”                                                                                                                                    

This workshop provides teachers with an opportunity to explore a creative, hands-on approach to East Asian studies and geography that is complimentary to traditional text-based and teacher-directed lessons on comparative geography and history/philosophy of East Asia.