July/Aug 2016 newsletter

July/August 2016 newsletter

It's that time of year...

Are you ready for the 2016-2017 school year?  Because we are!!!

You can count on your friends at MCSS to keep you informed on all the vital Social Studies information, news, and of course FUN to make this

the best year ever!!!

A message from the MCSS Board President

Dear Social Studies Educator,

At this time of year, I feel caught between trying to enjoy each and every last moment of summer with family and friends, and constantly thinking of the upcoming school year. I am reminded that one of the greatest things about being a teacher is that each year, no matter how challenging, is followed by the chance for a fresh start, and the opportunity to incorporate fresh ideas.

At MCSS, we have also had a busy summer. In June, we co-sponsored a day of outstanding professional development at Maranacook High School featuring teacher leaders from across the state.  We are actively planning our annual conference to be held in November in Augusta (see below). Finally, we have added three new executive board members; Geoffrey Wingard from Bangor High School, Erin Towns from Edward Little High School, and Donna Olsen from Lewiston High School.

On a personal level, I was thrilled to represent our MCSS members at the NCSS Summer Leadership Institute in Washington, DC. This conference is a great opportunity to be educated about important legislation that directly impacts social studies nationally, as well as in our local districts. After an intense day of preparation for lobbying, we headed to Capitol Hill to meet with our members of congress.

One of the issues I discussed with our legislators was funding for the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA. The exact amounts of funding as of this writing are yet to be determined. As with many bills, there are both strengths and challenges with the legislation. The good news is that ESSA provides for funding of the humanities, including social studies. The challenge is that each state or local district will need to determine how best to spend those allocated funds. Additionally, the money is not specifically earmarked for social studies. Rather there are pools of money that can be used in a variety of ways (technology, arts, social studies, etc.)

At MCSS we have updated our committee structure to include a focus on advocacy. We are reaching out to the Maine DOE and legislature to seek more guidance on ESSA, and we are also eagerly awaiting the filling of the recently vacated DOE Social Studies Liaison position. We will continue to monitor these issues and keep you informed. In the meantime, we have posted a copy of a Dear Colleague letter from the US DOE. We encourage you to ask your local curriculum coordinators if they received a copy of the letter, and how they plan to include social studies in their ESSA funding structure.

We look forward to being a part of your greatest year ever teaching social studies.


Kate Sheldon, President, Maine Council for the Social Studies




MCSS Annual Conference

Thursday, November 10, Augusta, ME

Want to arm yourself for a successful year with the best tools available? Eager to claim your throne as a ruler of all things Social Studies? 

Look no further than the MCSS Annual Conference

This year's conference is scheduled for November 10 at the Augusta Civics Center.  This year's theme is Civic Engagement in a Globally Connected World.  Stay tuned and check out our website for more details and information on how you can register! 

Meet this year's keynote speaker: Kenneth C. Davis!

Kenneth C. Davis is the New York Times bestselling author of America's Hidden History andDon't Know Much About® History, which gave rise to the Don't Know Much About® series of books for adults and children. A frequent guest on national television and radio and a Ted-Ed Educator, Davis enjoys Skype visits with middle- and high-school classrooms to discuss history. He lives in New York City. His forthcoming book is In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives. (Published September 2016)


Successful Social Studies Summer Symposium

by Kristie Littlefield

Maine Council for the Social Studies, in partnership with Maine DOE, hosted the first ever Social Studies Summer Symposium on June 29 at Maranacook High School.  There were 120 participants from all regions of the state.  You can find a link to the workshop materials from the Social Studies Teacher-Leaders in the resource folder on our webpage:  http://www.mainecouncilsocialstudies.org/2016-summer-conference/ 

Due to the positive feedback, MCSS hopes to be able to provide another summer professional development opportunity in 2017.  We will keep you posted as plans come together!


GIS in the Classroom

by Erin Towns

One of the hardest things about teaching social studies is the lack of geography knowledge and lack of technological literacy students display in the classroom.   I made it my mission a few years ago to change this.  As a 1:1 state, our tech savvy students of the 21st century have tools at their fingertips that will enable them to investigate the world and take significant action steps to solve problems they see in their communities using practical application of knowledge.  My students were introduced to using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) in the classroom and were asked to identify an issue in their community that they wanted to address.  Students chose safety and started the project by mapping where they live using ArcGIS Online. They added an Auburn Crime Data Layer that the city's GIS Coordinator created for them.  They compared where they lived in Auburn with crime statistics helping them to build basic spatial relationship skills.  Students then identified specific areas where they did not feel safe and hazard areas were mapped.  Students analyzed the map with crime layers added, made observations, and evaluated sources of the data.  Students were asked to offer solutions and the completed map was sent to the Auburn Maine Police Chief.  These global studies sophomores were invited to present their findings in front of the Auburn Public Safety Committee at City Hall in February.  As a result of the work they did, they were told that a new light warning passengers of students in a dangerous crosswalk would be added, helping students to feel safe in one of the most reported locations for hazards.  

The copy of the presentation can be seen here:  Auburn Community Profile

As a result of this project, Maine GIS Education Partners was created by Maine teachers for Maine teachers interested in using geospatial technology in the classroom.  Check us out and join us!   The website has free resources and announcements that will help teachers learn.  

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 mainesocialstudies@gmail.com.  


Designing C3 Inquiries with Library of Congress Political Cartoons, Waynesburg University, Sept. 29 - Nov. 3 - Join us for a FREE interactive online experience and a chance to earn 24 CEU hours! This opportunity for middle and secondary teachers and librarians combines the Library of Congress political cartoons and the C3 Inquiry Design Model to create ready-to-go visually-based inquiries leading to civic action. Model inquiries from the Herblock collection Herblock Cartoon Exhibit: Pointing their Pens and from historic Presidential Election Resource Guides 1789-1920 will be presented. Learn more and register here

MCSS Annual Conference, November 1 - The Maine Council for the Social Studies annual conference will be held on November 10th, 2016 at the Augusta Civic Center.  This year's theme, Global Studies, was the top request from the attendees at the 2015 conference, and civic engagement will be on everyone's minds in the aftermath of the elections - don't miss the opportunity to learn from and network with your colleagues across the state.  This year's keynote speaker is Kenneth C. Davis, New York Times bestselling author of America's Hidden History and Don't Know Much About History. 

National History Day, April 18, 2017 - Maine National History Day (NHD) is an annual event for teachers and students in grades 6-12 that promotes critical thinking skills through project-based learning.  The next state contest will be hosted at the University of Maine campus is Orono on Saturday, April 8, 2017.  Be on the lookout for NHD teacher workshops this fall!

Free Classroom Training in Maine Memory Network, available year-round - Maine Memory Network (MMN) is a FREE statewide digital museum developed by Maine Historical Society (MHS) to provide unprecedented access to primary source materials held by historical societies, museums, and libraries throughout Maine. There are currently more than 45,000 items in the Network's constantly growing online database contributed by over 270 organizations around Maine. MHS offers FREE classroom training in use of MMN for students and teachers; an MHS educator travels to your school to introduce teachers and/or students to Maine Memory Network, and sessions include a hands-on demonstration of the website and discussion of opportunities for your students to explore the history of your community.  To learn more or to sign up for free classroom training, email education@mainehistory.org.

Good luck on your first day! We know you'll be awesome.