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April 2021 Newsletter

Educating for American Democracy Roadmap

From the Educating for American Democracy website:

The aim of the Roadmap is to provide guidance that shifts content and instruction from breadth to depth by offering an inquiry framework that weaves history and civics together and inspires students to learn by asking difficult questions, then seeking answers in the classroom through facts and discussion for a truly national and cross-state conversation about civics and history to invigorate classrooms with engaging and relatable questions.

The Seven Content Themes map out the disciplinary and conceptual terrain, as well as the skills and dispositional learning needed to support healthy civic participation. The Five Design Challenges span the seven themes and state honestly and transparently some of the rich dilemmas that educators will encounter as they work with the content themes and instructional guidance.

Honest History Readers

From the Gibbs Smith Education website:

Welcome to your new go-to social studies resource. This is not your traditional textbook. Yes,

the history is there, presented in an accurate, unbiased way. But this diverse resource displays a variety of perspectives, stories, and events in a thematic way for students to connect to and engage with. In Honest History Readers students will study topics like independence, conservation, technology and innovation, international relations and more through the lenses of history, civics, culture, economy, and geography, and be able to see themselves in every volume.

Honest History Readers are a K-2 and 3-5 social studies program designed to engage and immerse students in thematic social studies content. Each set includes nine volumes a year, with additional sets available each year. Every volume can be purchased both in print, for a more hands-on experience, or on our digital platform for a more interactive experience, or both.

Nebraska Game and Parks

From the Nebraska Game and Parks website:

Celebrate 100 years of state park history from your classroom! These resources offer K–6 teachers the opportunity to integrate the Nebraska State Park Centennial into curricula, lessons and activities. Connect students with our state park system through fun activities that are aligned with state standards for learning.

Explore the history of Nebraska’s oldest state park, Chadron State Park, and discover the people, legislation and improvement projects that make the park what it is today. Then think about important events in your life and build a timeline of your own.

Text Complexity Workshop

Integrating Primary and Secondary Sources into Teaching: The SOURCES Framework for Authentic Investigation

From the Integrating Primary and Secondary Sources into Teaching website:

SOURCES Framework

Scrutinize the Fundamental Source(s)
Organize Thoughts
Understand the Context
Read Between the Lines
Corroborate and Refute
Establish a Plausible Narrative
Summarize Final Thoughts

It is essential for educators to provide students with various opportunities to engage with primary and secondary sources in an authentic and engaging manner that replicates that which is done by professionals in various fields of study (Waring, 2020). Through the use of the SOURCES Framework for Teaching with Primary and Secondary Sources, educators can properly scaffold the learning experience for students to allow them a more independent, inquiry-based approach. An added benefit of teaching students in this manner is that the skills and approaches that they employ throughout the process mirror those needed to effectively navigate various perspectives and opinions, including traditional and social media, with which they are confronted on a daily basis (NCSS, 2013).

As students move through the seven stages of the SOURCES framework, the SOURCES Analysis Sheet for use with primary and secondary sources is useful (example image), Additionally, educators will want to use the SOURCES Framework Analysis Sheet to help guide students through the investigation and each of the stages of the SOURCES framework.


From ProCon.Org website:

“To promote civility, critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting the pro and con arguments to debatable issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, freely accessible way.”

Through our website,, we serve as a non-biased information source for our users. We present sourced pros and cons of debatable issues, as well as a host of reference information relevant to those issues, thoroughly researched and compiled by our research staff and editors. We use the pro and con format because it achieves four objectives:

1. First, by exposing readers to both sides of an issue in a side-by-side format, we make it easier for them to see the difference in the facts and arguments offered by each side.

2. Second, our pro and con format creates what we call “beneficial confusion,” causing readers to struggle with well-presented opposing positions, and, therefore, to engage in evaluative thinking to formulate their own views. Readers who have a pre-existing view of an issue may feel more confident in their view, or they may change their view. In either case, many will recognize that the process of acquiring and critically evaluating information has a beneficial and satisfying effect on their decision-making.

3. Third, the format makes readers more confident and comfortable in discussing and debating their views with others, knowing what the “other side” may think.

4. Fourth, challenging readers to examine both sides of an issue tends to reduce the likelihood that they will resort to the “demonization” of those who hold opposing views.

The Redistricting Game

From The Redistricting Game website:

The Redistricting Game is designed to educate, engage, and empower citizens around the issue of political redistricting. Currently, the political system in most states allows the state legislators themselves to draw the lines. This system is subject to a wide range of abuses and manipulations that encourage incumbents to draw districts which protect their seats rather than risk an open contest.

By exploring how the system works, as well as how open it is to abuse, The Redistricting Game allows players to experience the realities of one of the most important (yet least understood) aspects of our political system. The game provides a basic introduction to the redistricting system, allows players to explore the ways in which abuses can undermine the system, and provides info about reform initiatives – including a playable version of the Tanner Reform bill to demonstrate the ways that the system might be made more consistent with tenets of good governance. Beyond playing the game, the web site for The Redistricting Game provides a wealth of information about redistricting in every state as well as providing hands-on opportunities for civic engagement and political action.

Geography Games by Sheppard Software

From the Geography Games website:

We create content and games for our website with these goals:

1) To add sound and visual effects to make learning fun and more memorable.
2) To design games with many difficulty levels so that players will continue to be challenged no matter how far they progress.
3) To provide games that will exercise players’ brains

Resources for Teaching Asian American Identity and History

The recent increase in anti-Asian attacks and the violent death by gun of six Asian women in Georgia on March 17th, has generated discussion and resources in support of the Asian American community. Classroom discussions after violent tragedies like this or the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado should be handled carefully. Current journalistic practice is to focus on the lives and experiences of the victims, presenting a fully humanizing picture of their lives. Good social science practice should include both the challenges faced by Asian Americans confronting a long history of racism and discrimination, as well as the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans to the culture and history
of the United States.

Below are resources created by national organizations and resources with specific connections to Nebraska history.

APANO responds to shooting tragedy in Atlanta

Council of Korean Americans: #StopAsianHate

Learning For Justice: After Atlanta: Teaching Asian American Identity and History Asian

Americans in the People’s History of the United States

A History of Omaha’s Chinatown

Asian Community and Cultural Center

Nebraska Chinese Association

Zoom In U.S. History Lessons

From the Zoom In website:

Zoom In is a free, Web-based platform that helps students build literacy and historical thinking skills through “deep dives” into primary and secondary sources.
Zoom In’s online learning environment features 18 content-rich U.S. history units that supplement your regular instruction and help you use technology to support students’ mastery of both content and skills required by the new, higher standards:

● Reading documents closely and critically
● Identifying author’s point of view and purpose
● Engaging in higher-order, text-based discussions
● Writing explanatory and argumentative essays grounded in evidence


From the Checkology website:

Checkology’s lessons and other resources show you how to navigate today’s challenging information landscape. You will learn how to identify credible information, seek out reliable sources, and apply critical thinking skills to separate fact-based content from falsehoods.

Checkology gives you the habits of mind and tools to evaluate and interpret information. And you gain an understanding of the importance of the watchdog role of the press.


From the TedEd website:

TED-Ed is TED’s youth and education initiative. TED-Ed’s mission is to spark and celebrate the ideas of teachers and students around the world. Everything we do supports learning — from producing a growing library of original animated videos , to providing an international platform for teachers to create their own interactive lessons, to helping curious students around the globe bring TED to their schools and gain presentation literacy skills, to celebrating innovative leadership within TED-Ed’s global network of over 650,000 teachers. TED-Ed has grown from an idea worth spreading into an award-winning education platform that serves millions of teachers and students around the world every week.

National Register Database and Research

From the National Register Database and Research website:

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.

Entrepreneurship in Your Community: Creating Your Own Career

Created by UNO Center for Economic Education and social studies educator Matt Pierson of Bryan High School in Omaha, the Entrepreneurship Guide is targeted for middle and high school teachers to teach entrepreneurship. The guide can be used in its entirety for a semester-long course or it can be used to supplement resources that a teacher already uses. It is tied to the National Voluntary Standards in Economics and the National Financial Literacy standards. Additionally, each lesson is linked to the Nebraska Social Studies and BMIT standards throughout. It is free to use and download and has accompanying slides for teachers.

Effective entrepreneurship requires that students have a keen understanding of the ways in which individuals, businesses, governments, and societies make decisions to allocate human capital, physical capital, and natural resources among alternative uses. This is part of the economic reasoning process and involves the consideration of costs and benefits with the ultimate goal of making decisions that will enable individuals, businesses, and societies to be as well-off as possible. The study of entrepreneurship provides students with the concepts and tools necessary for an economic way of thinking and helps them understand the interaction of buyers and sellers in markets everywhere. Economic reasoning and skillful use of economic tools draw upon a strong base of knowledge about human capital, land, investments, money, income and production, taxation, all of which are essential to being a successful entrepreneur.

A More Perfect Union: Teaching the American Revolution and Beyond

From the National History Day website:

National History Day is partnering with the National Endowment for the Humanities to commemorate the semiquincentennial of the United States. Together, NEH and NHD will create classroom materials that highlight different perspectives on the American Revolution, early American republic, and the continued efforts to create a more perfect union throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

These classroom resources will help teachers engage students with unique primary sources and themes of democracy and citizenship throughout United States history.

April is Financial Literacy and National Poetry Month

Listed below are links to resources that will help you teach about financial literacy and using poetry in social studies.

Financial Literacy


Capitol Hill Challenge

Council on Economic Education




Invest It Forward


The Stock Market Game

Poetry and Social Studies

Niobrara National Scenic River: Ever-Changing Currents Mini-Lesson

Poetry for Social Studies: Poems, Standards, and Strategies

Poetry Lesson Plans for Social Studies Class

Getting Poetic in Social Studies

March 2021 Newsletter

Nebraska Historical Markers

Example of a Nebraska History Marker.

Happy Nebraska Statehood Day! On March 1, 1867, Nebraska officially became the 37th state of this nation’s union.

From the History Nebraska website:

Our Explore Nebraska History app is the easiest way to find Nebraska Historical Markers in your area or access marker information from afar. You can download it on the App Store or Google Play. There is also a desktop version.

Women’s History Month Resources

It’s March and that also means that it is Women’s History Month. Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed an act which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint

resolutions designating a week in March as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed another additional legislation which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Below is a list of resources for Nebraska Educators to access and use lessons relating to Women’s History Month.

60 Seconds Civics

From 60 Seconds Civics website:

60-Second Civics is a daily podcast that provides a quick and convenient way for listeners to learn about our nation’s government, the Constitution, and our history. The podcast explores themes related to civics and government, the constitutional issues behind the headlines, and the people and ideas that formed our nation’s history and government.

60-Second Civics is produced by the Center for Civic Education. The show’s content is primarily derived from the Center’s education for democracy curricula, including We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution, Foundations of Democracy, and Elements of Democracy.

Teaching About Food and Agriculture Using Web Mapping Tools and Spatial Data (Journal Article)

Example of what food and agricultural web mapping using spatial tools could look like.

From the article Abstract:

Food and agriculture as geographic subjects connect well with climate, weather, river systems, landforms, and the politics and resources inherent in irrigation or draining the land, biodiversity, agricultural methods, customs, cultural history and change, technological development, population and immigration, and other topics. Teaching and learning about food and agriculture in an effective, engaging manner is enriched through the use of web mapping tools and spatial data. These tools, enabled by the advent of cloud-based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, bring problem solving, critical thinking, and spatial analysis to every classroom instructor and student. 

Open Social Studies (formerly called Understanding Our World), is an inquiry-based and literacy-focused K-6 social studies curriculum. It is free and open source.

Starting in the early elementary grades, all children should receive regular instruction in the social studies, which includes history, civics, geography, and economics. However, there are real pressures on schools and teachers to increase the amount of instruction in other subject areas, which often comes at the expense of their social studies time.

This curriculum was built to help teachers in K-6 schools regularly enact powerful and authentic social studies in their classrooms that will also meet essential literacy goals (linking every lesson to the Common Core State Standards). In other words, it leverages the richness of social studies content to help students learn to read, write, and think critically while exploring the past and present world around them. Moreover, it aims to make every single lesson culturally relevant, connecting to the racial, ethnic, gender, class, language, and immigration experience of the increasingly diverse United States.

Making Inquiry Possible

From the Making Inquiry Possible website:

In two short introductory films, we lay the groundwork for inquiry-based instruction in social studies classrooms and outline the origins of the Making Inquiry Possible (MIP) project, preview the films that are featured on this site, and orient the viewer to the professional learning resources available to support educators in making inquiry possible in their own classrooms and districts.

In Part 1, Dr. Kathy Swan tackles the foundational question: Why inquiry? In Part 2, Dr. Kathy Swan answers the project question:  What is the Making Inquiry Possible project?

Loper Business Invitational

Registration information for students interested in the Loper Business Invitation to take place March 23rd through the 25th.

We the People Teacher Summer Institute

Detailed information about free professional development for educators offered by the Center for Civic Education to take place this summer.

Open Ended Social Studies

From the Open Ended Social Studies website:

Lesson plans to foster a sense of wonder about the world and our place in it!

An Open Ended History is a free online history textbook adapted and expanded upon from open sources.  Its chapters are designed to address most state standards, splitting the difference between overarching themes, concise summary, and the kinds of vivid, personal details that make history memorable to the average student.  Please use and share freely – to supplement or replace what you have at hand.

NCSS Advocacy Toolkit

From the NCSS website:

The NCSS Advocacy Toolkit is an educational resource and planning tool of the National Council for the Social Studies that has been created and developed for non-profit educational and research purposes with the objective of advocating for social studies education. The Toolkit can be freely used for these non-profit purposes.

The Toolkit includes links to materials that may be copyrighted, and the Toolkit makes fair use of these materials for educational purposes. Those who wish to use any of these materials for purposes that go beyond fair use should obtain permission from the copyright owner.

American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL)

From the American Indians in Children’s Literature website:

A primary purpose of American Indians in Children’s Literature (AICL) is to help you know who Native people are. That knowledge can help you understand why Native people object to being misrepresented. Though we are certain that no author ever sets out to deliberately misrepresent Native people, it happens over and over again. Information is the only way to counter those misrepresentations. On American Indians in Children’s Literature, we publish analyses of children’s books, lesson plans, films, and other items related to the topic of American Indians and/or how this topic is taught in school.

2021 Economic Virtual Professional Development

2021 Economic Virtual Professional Development sponsored by the Nebraska Council on Economic Education. The March 10 session will be about government and the economy.

February 2021 Newsletter

Gilder Lehrman National History Teacher of the Year Award

From the Gilder Lehrman website:

Nominations and applications for the Gilder Lehrman 2021 National History Teacher of the Year Award are now open. The 2021 award will honor exceptional elementary and secondary school teachers. Eligible generalist and specialist teachers in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense schools, and US Territories are encouraged to apply.

Any full-time educator of grades K–12 who teaches American history (including state and local history) is eligible for consideration. American history may be taught as an individual subject or as part of other subjects, such as social studies, reading, or language arts.

  • The nominated teacher must have at least three years of classroom teaching experience.
  • Nominees must be planning to teach for at least one year following the award year.
  • Past state and national winners are not eligible.
  • Self-nominations are not accepted.

Deadline for 2021 nominations: April 30, 2021

Deadline for 2021 nominees to submit supporting materials: May 30, 2021

Black History Month Resources

Happy Black History Month! If you are looking for resources and lesson plans to commemorate Black history in your classroom, check out the links below!

We The Student Scholarship Contest

From the Bill of Rights Institute website:

What better time is there than now to reflect on the meaning of equality and justice in our world today? Encourage your students to enter this year’s We the Students essay contest.

Essay Prompt: What is the relationship between Equality and Justice?

Answering this question requires considering each of these principles and analyzing the relationship between them. To truly explore this question in an essay that is between 500 -800 words, you’ll need to go beyond “dictionary definitions,” and express your understanding and reasoning about the connection between these two principles. This reasoning involves a combination of observation, experience, and some pretty “big ideas.” What does it take to understand them? To build toward and maintain them? To see them with regard to each other? Why is this relationship important?

We encourage you to bring emotion, creativity, specific examples, and well-researched facts into what you write. A good essay will demonstrate how equality and justice are not just abstract ideas but are part of the actions and choices of people every day. We genuinely want to know how you would answer the question – what is the relationship between Equality and Justice?

Deadline for entry is April 15, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PT.

Native Indigenous Centered Education Program Virtual Storytelling

2021 Economic Virtual Professional Development


How are your teachers meeting the Nebraska Economic Standards? EVERFI and NEST are offering schools the opportunity to host a virtual workshop where EVERFI will present an economic lesson and will help your students get signed up to use Vault. With this being an updated course and key initiative for EVERFI, we’re offering a $10 Amazon Gift Card incentive for opening your classroom to us. Vault is for grades 4-6 and is offered at no-cost through the NEST sponsorship.


Four lucky teachers will receive a DonorsChoose gift card for their class. To be eligible you must use one of the five online lessons within Vault with students on or before March 15. Winners will be announced during Financial Literacy Month!

Contact Heather Miller, or Erica Hart, for more information or to schedule your classroom virtual lesson.

Civics in Real Life

From Civics in Real Life’s website:

The Florida Joint Center for Citizenship, in partnership with Civics Renewal Network and Teaching for Democracy Alliance have created “Civics in Real Life”. Civics is all around us. There is a lot to know about the government and how “We the People” interact with the government and each other. Let’s help each other expand our civic literacy. Concise resources to explore civics concepts connected to current events. Click, Download, and Go—Updated weekly!


From TheFire.Org website:

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s mission is to defend and sustain the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, freedom of association, due process, legal equality, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of liberty. FIRE educates students, faculty, alumni, trustees, and the public about the threats to these rights on our campuses, and provides the means to preserve them.

Reach the World

From the Reach the World website:

All youth need a global network to help them activate their own global journeys through work and life. All schools need to prepare students for a world where global collaboration and cooperation is the norm. Combating the ignorance that breeds fear and intolerance begins with young people. Reach the World transforms the energy of travelers into a learning resource for K-12 classrooms. Our programs use the web, messaging and video conferencing to connect youth with travelers in one-on-one global, virtual exchanges. Our nationwide network of educators, travelers and volunteers are building a more thoughtful and welcoming society by sharing the eye-opening benefits of travel with the youth of today, who will be the decision-makers of tomorrow.

Holocaust by Bullets in the Occupied Soviet Territories

World Food Prize Nebraska Youth Institute

British History Online

From the British History Online website:

British History Online is a collection of nearly 1300 volumes of primary and secondary content relating to British and Irish history, and histories of empire and the British world. BHO also provides access to 40,000 images and 10,000 tiles of historic maps of the British Isles.

We are making all of our transcribed content free until 30 April. This is a contribution to the work of researchers, teachers and students while library and archive access is difficult or impossible.

American Alliance of Museums – Distance Learning Repository

From the American Alliance of Museums website:

With children and learners out of school, learning hybrid and in other unexpected situations, museums across the continent have come together to share their distance learning with you. Use the pull-down filters to find the best programs and resources for your needs.

As of October 1, 2020, there are more than 1,000 resources or experiences listed in this repository, representing sites across the United States and in Canada, Argentina and Mexico, including eight languages and American Sign Language.

Digital Citizenship Contest

The Nebraska ESUs are excited to announce a Digital Citizenship Contest:  Belong, Be Safe, Be Kind, Be a Digi Smart Citizen. Students have the option to create a poster or PSA (public service announcement) that showcases how to Belong, Be Safe, Be Kind, Be a Digi Smart Citizen. All entries must be original creations and must be compliant with the established guidelines. Deadline will be mid-March, 2021.

History of Valentine’s Day

From the History Channel website:

“Valentine’s Day occurs every February 14. Across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and where did these traditions come from? Find out about the history of Valentine’s Day, from the ancient Roman ritual of Lupercalia that welcomed spring to the card-giving customs of Victorian England.” Select the link above to read and find out more!

Valentine’s Day Fun Facts! from the good people at Good Housekeeping. You see what I did there?!