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, ProCon.org, 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.

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