January 2022 Newsletter

Cheers to the New Year!

Dear Nebraska Social Studies Educators,

Now that the New Year is here, I want to take this opportunity to not only extend a heartfelt greeting for a safe, happy, and prosperous year ahead, but to also thank you for all of your hard work, patience, diligence, and determination to provide Nebraska students with the best social studies education possible. If you believe in numerology, the number 2 represents bringing peace and balance back into a situation. I only hope that with three 2’s in the current year some of the balance and peace within our local communities, state, and country will be restored. With the current school year half of the way over, I have seen so many successes with teachers implementing the instructional shifts, like inquiry, despite the many challenges that you all face. And since January is National Thank You Month, I want to thank all of you again for the extra hours worked, pushing through when you felt overwhelmed, and for providing a safe space for our students. Your efforts are not in vain and they are not overlooked. Many of you inspire me and I am blessed to be able to do and be in this work with you.

Here’s to you in 2022! (You see what I did there? I rhymed you and two!)



Congratulations to Zein Selah and Ellie Janda! Nebraska Students Selected for 2022 U.S, Senate Youth Program

The Nebraska Department of Education is pleased to announce the names of two students selected as delegates to the 60th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) held virtually from Washington, D.C. March 5-10. Zein Saleh of Lincoln North Star High School in Lincoln and Ellie Janda of Blue Hill High School in Blue Hill Nebraska were chosen from across the state to be part of the group of 104 student delegates who will attend the program’s Washington Week virtually.

The USSYP was created by Senate Resolution 324 in 1962 and has been sponsored by the Senate and fully funded by The Hearst Foundations since inception. The program is designed to increase young Americans’ understanding of the interrelationships of the three branches of government, learn the caliber and responsibilities of federally elected and appointed officials, and emphasize the vital importance of democratic decision-making not only for America but for people around the world.

The overall mission of the program is to help grow knowledge of the American political process and a lifelong commitment to

public service. In addition to the program week, The Hearst Foundations provide each student with a $10,000 undergraduate college scholarship.

Zein Saleh is no stranger to leadership. He is currently the president of three school organizations: Key Club, Student Council, and National Honor Society. He was also appointed as a member of the Lincoln Public Schools Scholarly Multicultural Equity Cadre as well as the Diversity in LPS Advanced Course Enrollment Committee. Zein has been a Lincoln-Douglas debater since his freshman year, becoming team captain his junior year. He has been the Equity in Afterschool Settings Curriculum intern for the LPS Community Learning Centers and Additionally, Zein was invited by local nonprofit BLIXT Locally Grown to lead a weekly club at Lefler Middle School titled Branching Outwards.

Ellie Janda also likes to lead by example. She is an active member in the National Honor Society and has also held a variety of leadership positions in other school and community organizations, including FBLA president, drum major, quiz bowl captain, and class vice-president. Ellie prides herself on her high level of involvement in extracurricular activities in her school and area and holds leadership roles in one-act, cross country, track, FCA, mentoring works, and yearbook. Outside of school, Ellie counsels at a youth camp, teaches Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, volunteers at United Harvest Food Pantry, and works full time over the summer at the Blue Hill Aquatic Center.

Chosen as alternates to the 2022 program were Peter Sukstorf of Omaha North High School in Omaha and Charles Sams of Gretna High School in Gretna.

The chief educational officer in each state selects the delegates after nomination by teachers and principals. This year’s delegates were designated by Dr. Matthew L. Blomstedt, Commissioner of Education.

During Washington Week, the student delegates virtually attend meetings and briefings with senators, members of the House of Representatives, Congressional staff, the president, a justice of the Supreme Court, leaders of cabinet agencies, an ambassador to the United States, and senior members of the national media.

World Food Prize Foundation – Nebraska Youth Institute Global Challenge

The Nebraska Youth Institute is a life-changing experience at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where high school students engage with local leaders and experts on critical global challenges, participate in hands-on activities, and explore exciting ways to make a difference in Nebraska and around the world.

Students research issues they care about and propose their ideas to solve these grand challenges.

The Nebraska Youth Institute is hosted by the University of Nebraska – Lincoln with the generous support of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (CASNR); the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication (ALEC); the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR), Bruce and Kathy Maunder with the Maunder-Borlaug scholarship, The Malaika Foundation, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) and Nebraska FFA.

Why participate?

Students who participate in the Nebraska Youth Institute earn a $500 scholarship, recognition as a Borlaug Scholar, and qualify for internships and further opportunities.

At this exciting event, participating high school students have the opportunity to:

  • Present research and recommendations on ways to solve key global challenges in a short speech and small group discussions with statewide experts;
  • Connect with other student leaders from across Nebraska to share ideas, identify solutions to these problems and build lasting friendships;
  • Explore the issues, current research and opportunities to make a difference at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln
  • Interact with global leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs in Nebraska working to end hunger and poverty and improve food security around the world.

Papers will be evaluated by The World Food Prize Board of Reviewers. This distinguished group of educators and experts was established to mentor and personally encourage students. Reviewers write thoughtful, personalized feedback to each student who participates in the Youth Institute.

How to participate:

To participate in the Nebraska Youth Institute, students research a global issue and write a three page paper under the supervision of a teacher or mentor (using the downloadable guidelines above).

Ninth through twelfth grade students are eligible to apply.

Registration and paper submission are due online by:  February 1st, 2022

Note: Registration and paper submission forms are live!

There is no registration cost to participate in the Institute and meals will be provided during the event. However, both students and teacher/mentor participants must organize their own transportation to and from the event in Nebraska.

For more information please contact Renee Donner at: rdonner2@unl.edu or 402-472-9782

History Nebraska Food Feedback Zooms

Dear Teachers and Administrators,

Greetings from History Nebraska!

You are invited to a very special “Food Feedback Zoom” for educators in January, 2022. We would love to get your input as we develop a new exhibit and its supporting K-12 programming. Grow Nebraska (working title) will open in 2023 and invites visitors to dig into the question of “What is Nebraska Food?” via the themes of Nebraska Food is … Community, Homegrown, Everywhere, Work, Unique and Resilient. The exhibit will explore these themes via stories, primary sources, and immersive spaces!

We’ll be sharing some EARLY ideas for K-12 programming, both in-person and Virtual, to engage students with this new exhibit. You’ll be reviewing 10-15 ideas like the one pictured here and responding simply with a thumbs up or thumbs down vote and/or comment.

With appreciation, each teacher who attends one of these 30-45 min. focus group will receive a complimentary History Nebraska “Supporter” membership Membership | History Nebraska. We will also send participants “first dibs” announcements and registration for new programming at History Nebraska’s museum and sites. Twenty spots are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

We have four “Food Feedback Zooms” to choose from:

  •         Jan 25, Tuesday 7:15am-8:00am
  •         Jan 26, Wednesday 7:00pm-7:45pm
  •         Jan 27, Thursday 3:45pm-4:30pm
  •         Jan 29, Saturday 9:00pm-9:45am

Please respond to this email or complete this short form to let us know which “Food Feedback Zoom” works for you. https://forms.gle/FoodFeedback

We will send your Zoom link for the requested meeting and links to the interactive Padlet presentation we’ll be using to share ideas and collect feedback. The interactive presentation will open the day of our meeting and be open for a few days afterwards to collect any additional thoughts.

Thank you for considering. Please let me know if you have any questions.

The History Nebraska Education Team,

Mick, Araceli, Erica and Jessica

Books of the Month

January “Books of the Month”

Sketchnotes for Educators

By: Sylvia Duckworth

Sylvia Duckworth is a Canadian teacher whose sketchnotes have taken social media by storm. Her drawings provide clarity and provoke dialogue on many topics related to education. This book contains 100 of her most popular sketchnotes with links to the original downloads that can be used in class or shared with colleagues. Interspersed throughout the book are Sylvia’s reflections on each drawing and what motivated her to create them, in addition to commentary from other educators who inspired the sketchnotes.

Social Studies for a Better World

By: Noreen Naseem Rodriguez and Katy Swalwell

In this engaging guide two experienced social studies educators unpack the oppressions that so often characterize the elementary curriculum―normalization, idealization, heroification, and dramatization―and show how common pitfalls can be replaced with creative solutions. Whether you’re a classroom teacher, methods student, or curriculum coordinator, this is a book that can transform your understanding of the social studies disciplines and their power to disrupt the narratives that maintain current inequities.

Words that Work

By: Dr. Frank Luntz

In Words That Work, Luntz offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the tactical use of words and phrases affects what we buy, who we vote for, and even what we believe in. With chapters like “The Ten Rules of Successful Communication” and “The 21 Words and Phrases for the 21st Century,” he examines how choosing the right words is essential.

If you ever wanted to learn how to talk your way out of a traffic ticket or talk your way into a raise, this book’s for you.


By: Richard Bell

Philadelphia, 1825: five young, free black boys fall into the clutches of the most fearsome gang of kidnappers and slavers in the United States. Lured onto a small ship with the promise of food and pay, they are instead met with blindfolds, ropes, and knives. Over four long months, their kidnappers drive them overland into the Cotton Kingdom to be sold as slaves. Determined to resist, the boys form a tight brotherhood as they struggle to free themselves and find their way home.

Nebraska Map with the New Congressional Districts

Dr. Randy Bertolas has revised the previous Nebraska Map by placing the new Congressional district boundaries behind the county lines. If you would like the PDF version of the map for use in your classroom, please feel free to send me an email (ebony.mckiver@nebraska.gov) and I will send it to you!

George Norris Day – January 5, 2022

This Wednesday, January 5th is “George W. Norris Day” and marks the 85th anniversary of our unicameral legislature! To celebrate the day, Nonpartisan Nebraska will be hosting online talks with former and current lawmakers to talk about Nebraska’s unique unicameral process, how we came to have the only unicameral legislature in the United States, and how everyday Nebraskans can get involved in local government.

The event will stream on Facebook and YouTube and will be hosted by Nonpartisan Nebraska’s executive director, Nathan Leach of Kearney, and retired UNL journalism professor and author of “One House,” Dr. Charlyne Berens of Lincoln.

Widely considered one of history’s greatest United States Senators, Norris is considered the father of Nebraska’s unique nonpartisan unicameral legislature. He championed the constitutional amendment that established the unicameral that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in 1934. He served Nebraska first in the US House of Representatives for five terms and then in the US Senate for 30 years. Norris’ legislative accomplishments include the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932 and the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority in 1933.

Sign up and hear from former and current state legislators, get information about contacting your state senator, and help us celebrate 85 years of unicameralism in Nebraska!

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Day Teacher Resources

The fight to make the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday a holiday took 32 years, a lot of campaigning, and guest appearances including Stevie Wonder, Ted Kennedy, and the National Football League.

King’s birthday was finally approved as a federal holiday in 1983, and all 50 states made it a state government holiday by 2000.

Officially, King was born on January 15, 1929 in Atlanta. But the King holiday is marked every year on the third Monday in January.

State Statute provides that all Nebraska schools should recognize and commemorate specific holidays throughout the school year ((6)Appropriate patriotic exercises suitable to the occasion shall be held under the direction of the superintendent in every public, private, denominational, and parochial school on George Washington’s birthday, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, Native American Heritage Day, Constitution Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Thanksgiving Day, or on the day or week preceding or following such holiday, if the school is in session).

Here are some teacher and student resources for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Elevate Civics

The Elevate Civics Project is a nationwide initiative aimed at understanding and improving students’ interest and engagement with civics. This project is for Claire’s dissertation in collaboration with civic education non-profit, iCivics. We have designed 10 lesson plans that we will provide to you to teach your class.

In the lessons, we have embedded some short questionnaires for your students that are important for the research project. In the questionnaires, students will be asked some questions to assess their learning, and we will provide you with a report of your students’ learning at the end of the project. We have permission forms in English and Spanish approved by Princeton University for your students and parents. Students giving permission to participate in the project will take the questionnaires.

We are able to offer you a $150 Amazon gift card to show our appreciation for you, especially during these difficult times. We ask that you audio record the lessons, if possible, with an audio recorder that we will provide to you. When putting together the lessons for this project, we have come across a large amount of civics resources. We are working to put these together into a repository which you will have access to and can use in future lesson preparation!

We want to make participating in the project as easy as possible. If there’s anything we can do to make it easier for you, please let us know! (email Claire at cwilleck@princeton.edu)

MyImpact Challenge – Bill of Rights Institute

MyImpact Challenge is a civic engagement contest hosted by the Bill of Rights Institute. Our goal is simple: foster a robust understanding of citizenship and get students active in their communities now!

Submission is open to US citizens and US based young people between the ages of 13 and 19 years old on January 1, 2021. Submission must be received by 11:59 pm PT on Sunday, May 1, 2022. Only submissions entered through MyImpact Challenge’s online portal will be accepted for the contest. The contest is designed for one student per entry, but groups of up to five students may submit as a single group entry. Prizes awarded to group entries will be split evenly between entrants.

Each submission must include the following:

  1. An essay of up to 1,200 words expressing the student’s a) understanding of the ideal of “E Pluribus Unum” and how their project furthers that ideal in their community b) How their project furthers at least one Civic Virtue and one of Founding Principle as defined in the Bill of Rights Institutes “Principles and Virtues.”
  2. A report of up to 2,000 words detailing a student’s completed or in-progress civic engagement project. Report must include the following components.
    • The inspiration for the project.
    • The project plan.
    • Details of the project’s execution
    • At least two examples of the project’s demonstrated impact on the community.
    • How the student(s) grew in understanding of the role of Civic virtue, knowledge of their communities, and their ability to support or impact them.
  3. Visual documentation of the student’s project and its results in one of the following formats:
    • Photographic Only: No fewer than ten and no more than twenty high-resolution still photographs, submitted in either JPEG or PNG format.
    • Video Only: One video of no more than five minutes, submitted in MP4 format
    • Mixed Photographic and Video: No fewer than five and no more than seven high-resolution still photographs as well as one video of no more than two minutes. Photographs must be in either JPEG or PNG format, and video must be in MP4 format.

Nebraska Story Map Competition 2022

The Nebraska Story Map Competition encourages students to use a powerful mapping application called geographic information systems (GIS) to research and analyze some aspects of Nebraska.  Students will showcase their results in a story map.  This online competition is open to students in high school grades 9-12 or middle school grades 4-8.  Students can complete a map project in a team of 1 or 2 students.

The 5 best HS + 5 best MS map entries will be awarded $100 each.  Two-member student teams will divide the cash award.   FYI- we have had no middle school student map entries since 2018.  Let’s change this!

This URL Nebraska Story Map Competition 2022 (arcgis.com) provides a description of the competition,  showcases last year’s top 5 HS student maps, and tutorials on how to use the GIS mapping software called ArcGIS Online.  Contact Dr. Lesli Rawlings at lerawli1@wsc.edu if you have any questions about the competition or want more information.

Registration closes on February 11, 2022.

2022 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage in Essay Contest

Contest Topic

Describe and analyze an act of political courage by a US elected official who served during or after 1917.

To learn more about political courage, visit Contest Information and FAQs.

All submissions must adhere to contest requirements.

Contest Deadline

The Profile in Courage Essay Contest opens for submissions on September 1, 2021. The contest deadline is January 14, 2022. 

Recognition and Awards

  • First-place: $10,000
  • Second-place: $3,000
  • Five Finalists: $1,000 each
  • Eight Semi-finalists: $100 each

Get Email Updates

Join our mailing list to get contest tips, updates, and a reminder to submit your essay.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum does not sell or share your personal information or email address.

2022 Summer Professional Development Opportunities in Social Studies

This document was compiled by the Council of State Social Studies Supervisors as a way to communicate the wealth of professional development opportunities available to social studies educators. A special thanks to all of the organizations who helped contribute to this work and to the many organizations who are offering high quality social studies professional development for social studies teachers across the country. Many of the opportunities below are offered free or low cost, but some opportunities do have a cost. When opportunities are highlighted in yellow, it means there are not yet 2022 updates for that particular program. The document will be updated through the spring of 2022. Please email Stefanie Wager at stefanie.rosenbergwager@gmail.com with any questions, comments, or to add programs to this list.

“We the People” Winners!

The Bar Foundation sponsors the Nebraska State We the People High School Finals annually. High school teams, each composed of a rostered class that has used the We the People curriculum, compete with simulated hearings before community members.

The winner represents Nebraska at the National We the People Finals in late April. More than 1,200 high school students and their teachers participate annually in the National Finals.

The 2021-2022 winners are Lincoln East High School and the runner ups were Lincoln Southeast!

Virtual and In-Person Bison Programming with History Nebraska!

We have a very exciting announcement to share with you!

The traveling exhibit from the Kauffman Museum, Bison, will be at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln from February 14-May 13, 2022. This exhibit features photos, objects, artwork and quotes exploring the life of Bison and the people who find value in them on the Great Plains.

We’d love to set your class/es up to explore this exhibit in these ways:

  • Virtual Lessons: Schedule a Stand-Alone lesson (40 min.) or a Pre- or Post-Visit Chat (20 min.) around your visit to the Museum. In each virtual lesson, students work with our digital outreach educator, Araceli Hernandez, to discover the value of Bison from the perspective of two Indigenous Cultural Specialists and the secrets that touchable objects can reveal. To register for the Stand-Alone Virtual Lesson, please email araceli.hernandez@nebraska.gov
  • In-Person (10-60 students, 60 min.): Active Tour – Museum staff facilitate and students play the role of reporter. Reporters “interview” an object from the Bison exhibit to collect and “go to press” with the evidence as they investigate the question: What is the value of a Bison?
  • In-Person (10-75 students, 60 min.): Semi-Guided Tour – Museum staff facilitate and students play the role of curators who carefully choose and present objects from the Bison exhibit and others to include in an exhibit.
  • In-Person (10-125 students, 60 min.): Self-Guided Tour – The Bison exhibit can be one of three exhibits classes visit as part of a museum-wide scavenger hunt.

These Virtual Lessons and In-Person Tours are free of charge for school groups and their adults. Donations are always welcome and appreciated. Masks are required for the Active Tour and Semi-Guided Tour as our staff facilitates. Masks are requested for Self-Guided Tours.

To register for any of these In-Person programs and a Pre- or Post-Visit chat, please contact Jessica Stoner at jessica.stoner@nebraska.gov.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions at 402-318-1723.

Jessica Stoner


Education Associate