MCSS November - December 2018 Newsletter

MCSS Announcements & News

MCSS Endorses Joe Schmidt for NCSS Board

Joe Head Shot.jpg

Each year, the National Council for the Social Studies holds elections to fill positions on their Board of Directors and leadership team. Voting for 2019-2020 Board of Directors will begin after the annual NCSS conference this December. The NCSS Board of Directors oversees the mission and vision of the organization and sets the policy that supports not only the organization, but social studies educators around the country and the world. 
The Maine Council for the Social Studies, at its October 4 meeting, voted unanimously to endorse Joe Schmidt as candidate for the At-Large position on the NCSS Board of Directors. Joe has served in a leadership capacity in a variety of social studies organizations both in Maine, Wisconsin, and nationally. This includes his current position as Social Studies Specialist for the Maine Department of Education as well as serving on the MCSS Board.

Joe has served the past four years as a member of both the iCivics National Educator Network and the Teaching Tolerance Advisory Board. He currently serves on the Government and Public Relations Committee and previously chaired the select subcommittee for Social Studies for NCSS. Other distinguished recognition and positions include:

      •    K-12 Social Studies Teacher Leader for Curriculum & Instruction at the Madison Metropolitan
           School District
      •    Vice-President and Business Manager for the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies
      •    Social Studies Advisory Council for the Wisconsin Department of Instruction
      •    Item and Content Reviewer for the Wisconsin Forward Exam
      •    Fellow at the Center for the Study of the American Constitution
      •    Teacher Study Abroad Program for the European Union Center for Excellence
      •    2017 Snavely/Michalko Memorial Award for outstanding service to social 
           studies community in Wisconsin
      •    2014 NCSS Summer Leadership Institute
Joe believes that social studies is the curriculum for how we live our lives and can be the cure to what ails us. Not only does it prepare students for tackling larger and deeper issues as they grow older, but it also sets the stage for well-rounded students who are not afraid to ask questions and explore their own curiosity about our world while also raising literacy rates and test scores. He believes deeply in social studies, but understands that educators need more support. There is so much potential, but we all realize there are barriers to successful implementation. As a former classroom teacher, who became a district level curriculum leader, and now as a state specialist, he has the background experience to address these barriers.

Joe believes that we must encourage all educators, including elementary teachers, to provide meaningful Social Studies education for all students. For example, demonstrating how literacy learning is stronger when history content is included and how mathematics in the context of even basic economics deepens those mathematical practices. He knows there is more work to do in our social studies classes and curriculum, but the leaders we will rely on in the future, need to be shaped in the K-12 classrooms of today.
The MCSS board knows that Joe has been a leader for social studies throughout his career and serves as a strong advocate for supporting not only social studies educators in Maine but throughout NCSS.

Interested in serving on the board of MCSS?
Apply now!

MCSS is hoping to add new members to the board! Want to join as a board member? 
Fill out an application on our website by December 15!

MCSS is now on Instagram!

Are you on Instagram? Join us!
Search for Maine Council for Social Studies and click follow!


Summer PD in Social Studies: Part 2

By Shane Gower

We next visited the Oise-Aine American Cemetery and the grave of my Silent Hero. It was a moving experience to deliver a eulogy at his grave site. I can’t wait to learn more about him and what he did during the war.

There were 24 teachers from around the country on this trip and at each cemetery we visited, we each took turns visiting the grave of our Silent Hero. By the end I had heard 24 eulogies and I was honestly moved by each and every one.

Visiting the American-related sites was amazing, but of course the US didn’t join the First World War until the final year of the conflict. To truly understand the War we had to spend some time learning about the War before the US became a combatant. So we visited the area where the Battle of Verdun happened. Arguably this is the site of the worst battle in human history. We started out by visiting the Village that no longer exists. Fleury was once a thriving French village of 500 people with various farmers and businesses. Thanks to the Battle of Verdun it was completely wiped off of the Earth. All there is there now are craters and concrete markers to tell you where homes and businesses once stood. This is jarring to say the least!

Next we went to the Ossuary at Verdun. In front are the graves of 20,000 French soldiers that could be identified. Inside the Ossuary are the bones of 130,000 French and German soldiers who could not be identified. Just a fraction of the 900,000 who died in this battle. To read about it is one thing, but to see it makes such an impression that its hard to explain.

While it was amazing to walk in the trenches where Americans were, it was even more amazing to walk in some German trenches. The Germans built permanent trenches for the long haul and so theirs have withstood the test of time much better!

We ended our trip staying in Metz and visiting the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial near Paris. The Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery is the largest in Europe with 15,000 Americans buried there. The Lafayette Escadrille Memorial contains the graves of 22 Americans who flew planes for France in the war and were killed before the US entered the war.

This trip was truly fantastic and would not have been possible without National History Day, the National Cemetery Administration, the American Battle Monuments Commission, and the WW1 Centennial Commission.

But wait…

My World War One Summer was just beginning! I then spent a week in a Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History Summer Seminar in Kansas City, MO at the National World War One Museum and Memorial. Gilder-Lehrman offers many of these programs each summer located around the country. Each one bring in a known scholar for the week to lecture on a specific topic and incorporates local museums or historic sites. Dr. Jay Winter was the historian for this week called World War One and Its Aftermath. The Museum is loaded with artifacts and does a great job of telling the story of the war. We had a tremendous opportunity to see and handle historical artifacts and also to interact with a historian who has spent his life researching and writing about the First World War.

 feel very fortunate about and inspired by these opportunities and I can’t wait to bring them into my classroom! If any of this is of interest to you I encourage you to look to Understanding Sacrifice and the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for Summer PD next year!

In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
        In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
        In Flanders fields.


November 11, 2018 marks 100 years since when at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month - November 11, 11am - World War I officially came to an end.

Here are some resources for teaching World War I:

The National WWI Museum and Memorial

Library of Congress

Stanford History Education Group

National History Day
The Poetry of WWI
National Endowment for the Arts
World War I and the Maine Experience (Maine Historical Society)

A Message from National History in Maine

Through National History Day in Maine’s first five years we have proven that we can host quality contests, recruit dedicated teachers and judges, provide excellent resources to educators and students, win multiple awards at the national level, and serve as a model for smaller programs with fewer staff and minimal budgets. It’s been a long road to get to this point, but one we feel we have not completed. With the help of new collaborative partners and the hiring of an UMaine intern we are going to make even more strides this year.

The upcoming year for National History Day in Maine promises to be our largest to date.  For the first time ever we will host regional contests in Lewiston (Museum LA and the Lewiston Public Library) and Bangor (John Bapst Memorial High School)! As always, the state contest will be held at the University of Maine.  Teachers, judges, and event coordinators are looking forward to seeing the student research based projects connected to the annual theme—Triumph and Tragedy in History.

Maine’s first regional contest will take place on March 8, 2019 in Lewiston.  Two weeks later, on March 23, Bangor will host another--Bruce Whittier Middle School in Poland will hold an independent school-wide contest.  It is encouraging to see the enthusiasm from teachers, students, and parents about the regional contests.  Not only will the contests help grow the program, but more importantly it is another step in the research and development process where students can present their work, receive constructive feedback from professionals in the field, and edit and revise their projects as they prepare for the state contest at UMaine on April 27, 2019.

It is important to note that students MUST compete at the regional level to participate at the state contest. Registration for the regional contests open on January 4, 2019.  Soon we will also be putting a call out for judges to staff these events. I hope some of you will consider volunteering your time or encourage others to enrich a student’s experience. 

Please follow NHD in Maine on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Contact State Coordinator John Taylor ( or visit to learn more about the program or upcoming events. Visit for a full list of important contest deadlines.

Have a story you want to share for our SOCIAL STUDIES IN MAINE or SOCIAL STUDIES IN THE CLASSROOM spotlights? Submit it to the Maine Council for Social Studies at  

Opportunities for Teachers and Students

Dawnland, Upstander Project, November screenings - Upstander Project invites you to the following Maine screenings of DAWNLAND in November. DAWNLAND is a story of stolen children and cultural survival: inside the first truth and reconciliation commission for Native Americans. If you can't make it to a screening please consider hosting one in your community and checking out the free DAWNLAND teacher's guide.  Further details and ticket/RSVP info at

Fri. Nov. 10 at 6:30pm - Auburn
Thu. Nov. 15 at 7pm - Brunswick
Fri. Nov. 16 at 5:30pm - Portland
Fri. Nov. 16 at 6:30pm - Kennebunk
Thu. Nov 29 at 7pm - Brunswick

Geography Awareness Week, November 11-17 - Geography Awareness Week is November 11-17, 2018. This year's GIS Day will be held on Wednesday, November 14. GIS Day provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems (GIS) technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society. You can hold an open house, conduct a presentation or workshop, or be creative and hold some other sort of event that showcases what you are doing with GIS and why it matters.Read more about Geography Awareness Week on National Geographic's website and read more about GIS Day.

Maine in WWI, Holocaust and Human Rights Center, November 16 - On Friday, November 16, The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine is hosting Maine in WWI, a day-long seminar examining many aspects of Maine’s involvement in World War One, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the war. Historians, teachers, students, and life-long learners are encouraged to attend. The session will run from 8:30am-4:30pm. There is no cost to attend, but registration is required. Teachers will receive six contact hours for re-certification.

Teaching the Holocaust, Echoes and Reflections, Ellsworth High School, November 20 - How do we create impactful and thoughtful learning of the Holocaust with students? Join Echoes and Reflections for their signature professional development program to take place at Ellsworth High School on November 20. In this session, participants explore and gain access to a range of classroom content and consider instructional enhancements to support students' study and reflection of the history of the Holocaust and its ongoing meaning in the world today. Educators enhance their own knowledge about the Holocaust, including the history of antisemitism, and build confidence and capacity to teach this complex subject. Click here to register or contact Heidi Omlor at

When Teachers Believe, Students Achieve: The Power of Collective Efficacy, led by Jenni Donohoo, Augusta Civic Center, December 13 & 14, 2018Registration deadline is November 30 -  “Collective teacher efficacy is greater than three times more powerful and predictive of student achievement than socioeconomic status. It is more than double the effect of prior achievement and more than triple the effect of home environment and parental involvement.” (The Power of Collective Efficacy, Donohoo, Hattie, and Eells)  Collective efficacy has the strongest influence on student learning of any strategy identified by John Hattie (effect size of 1.57). Designed for school and district leaders, teacher leaders, and instructional coaches, this two-day experience will delve into the concept of collective efficacy and provide concrete strategies to work toward it.Fee is $300 for both days. Registration information is posted at 

National History Day in Maine, Registration for Regional Contests, opens January 4, 2019 - The upcoming year for National History Day in Maine promises to be our largest to date! For the first time ever we will host regional contests on March 8, 2019 in Lewiston (Museum LA and the Lewiston Public Library) and on March 23, 2019 in Bangor (John Bapst Memorial High School)! As always, the state contest will be held at the University of Maine. Bruce Whittier Middle School in Poland will hold an independent schoolwide contest.  Teachers, judges, and event coordinators are looking forward to seeing the student research based projects connected to the annual theme—Triumph and Tragedy in History.  It is important to note that students MUST compete at the regional level to participate at the state contest. Registration for the regional contests open on January 4, 2019.  Follow NHD in Maine on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  Contact State Coordinator John Taylor ( or visit to learn more about the program or upcoming events. Visit for a full list of important contest deadlines.

Resources for Social Studies Teachers on Wabanaki History, Culture, an Contemporary Issues - Resources include the specific "Resource List for Elementray and Middle School Teachers" as well as information on how to obtain a copy of The Wabanakis of Maine and the Maritimes:

"Becoming American" Immigration Series, Museum L-A, September-November 2018 - Museum L-A and a group of community partners has been chosen as one of 32 sites across the country to host "Becoming American," a series of events using films, literature, music, food, dance, art, and theater to talk about local and national immigration. All events are free and open to the public. There are opportunities for classes and youth groups to make use of program materials, which include a set of films, scholar essays, resource lists, and discussion questions. Program information is available online at  For more information or to get involved, contact Kate Webber at (207) 333-3881 or

National Geographic Education, NatGeo Educator Community - National Geographic Education is creating a digital NatGeo Educator community and you are invited to become charter members.  This is set to launch in early 2018.  It will allow you to engage with National Geographic explorers, staff, and like-minded educators from around the world.  You will also have the opportunity to opt in and be the first to know about online opportunities, events, training, resources and programs.  
Please join by clicking the link below and filling out the requested information.  Though you may already be on the Maine Geographic Alliance email list, please opt into communication from us to ensure that all of your communication preferences are captured.  Thank you!

National Institute for Civil Discourse, Reviving Civility, ongoing - Incivility in America has reached epidemic proportions. In far too many instances rudeness, disrespect and hostility sideline collaboration and compromise. NICD is spearheading a national grassroots initiative to revive civility and respect that gives Americans solution-oriented actions to do so. Citizens and policy makers nationwide are stepping forward and becoming community connectors who agree to promote civility and respect in their community. Individuals and groups within communities are coming together around the desire to change the tone of our democracy. From urban to rural communities, we’re seeing policy makers, schools & universities (faculty and students), civic groups, business leaders, faith based communities, media leaders and others joining in this call. If you are tired of incivility, join us in reviving civility and respect:
For more information, contact: Mark Hews, Maine State Organizer
Email: Phone: (207) 577-0209

Uncovering America, National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, ongoing -  The National Gallery of Art has is working on a national project and curriculum called Uncovering America, which looks at the intersection of art and history, and delves into how artists have both shaped and reflected history, and our understandings of what America/American identity is. Though the curriculum draws on works of art, of course, as the main primary sources, the project  was developed in hopes of filling a gap for history and social studies educators. The project seeks 1-2 history educators in each state to try some of it out and give feedback. Learn more at

Maine Humanities Council programming, ongoing - Did you know the Maine Humanities Council has lots of programming around the entire state of Maine? Check out all the offerings online!

Giant Traveling Map of Maine, Maine Geographic Alliance, ongoing - The National Geographic Education Foundation has given each member of the Alliance network, two ‘giant’ maps. The Maine map is 17 ft by 20 ft and includes major cities, Native lands, and topographic features such as rivers, lakes and elevation.  he trunk that houses the map also includes teacher materials for grades 2-5.   There are supporting materials including an activity book with standards’ based lessons, lanyards, plastic cups and cones, plastic chains, Maine Ag in the classroom resources, state and national flags, the Maine classroom Atlas and more.  Schools may use the map and materials at no cost. This is a floor map and students may walk on it with socks on. No shoes or writing materials are to be used on the map.
If you are interested in scheduling one of the maps for your school, please contact Susan Lahti at  Put GTMMaine in the subject line.    

Maine Historical Society educational programming, ongoing -  Maine Historical Society offers a variety of programs and resources designed to help teachers and students explore Maine history. These include programs at our one-acre campus in Portland and in schools across the state, professional development opportunities for teachers, outreach programs, partnerships with schools around Maine, and resources on the web.  All programs draw on MHS's extensive historical collections and the knowledge of our professional staff. All our programs can be adapted to meet the needs of students in grades K–16 and have been designed in accordance with Maine Learning Results and Common Core State Standards. To learn more visit our website or email

Maine State Museum, Tours and Gallery Programs & State House Tours and Blaine House Tours, ongoing - Let us help you plan a field trip to Augusta and the State House Complex!  The Maine State Museum offers over 20 different educational programs and tours about Maine’s natural environment, prehistory, industry and agriculture, and social history. Take a look at our website  for easy online reservations and detailed descriptions of all our educator-led gallery programs and tours. Don’t forget we can also help you schedule Maine State House Tours and Blaine House Tours.  Museum admission and all of our tours and gallery programs are free for schools!  Reservations Recommended for all Group Visits.  For reservations and more information: or 207-287-2301

Holocaust and Human Rights Center, Free Educational Outreach, ongoing - The HHRC provides educational outreach to schools and community groups throughout Maine free of charge. These programs focus on issues relating to the Holocaust and human rights.  Our outreach programs are available to bring to your school, or you’re welcome to schedule a visit to the Michael Klahr Center.  For more information visit, email or call 207-621-3530.