Three Harker middle school social studies teachers recently returned from the 51st annual conference of the California Council for the Social Studies, held in Orange County.
The teachers – Jonathan Brusco, Keith Hirota and Cyrus Merril – were among conference attendees who annually come together as a group, from across the state and beyond, to share insights and ideas, collaborate and inspire one another in efforts to support and sustain a strong history/social studies education program for students.
“The best teachers are always trying to come up with new, innovative ways to engage their students and this convention is a means for them to share their great ideas with other educators,” said history teacher Brusco.
“This was my second year attending the convention and each year I brought back something innovative to implement in my classroom. This time I learned about a new method, called the four worlds, for students to do analysis of social studies topics. I’ve already begun utilizing it in my classroom.”
For more than 50 years, the conference’s mission has remained consistent: to prepare and equip the next generation with the necessary skills, understanding and dispositions to maintain a democratic republic.
This year’s theme was Social Studies to the Core! The theme explored how common core standards can be used as a tool to advance critical thinking through analytical reading and writing exercises with social studies content.
Keynote speakers and scholars included Holocaust survivor, author and Medal of Freedom recipient Gerda Weissmann Klein; “Enrique’s Journey” author Sonia Nazario; English Language Learning expert Margarita Jimenez-Silva; National Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools executive director Ted McConnell; and California Court of Appeals Justice Judith McConnell.
Sessions and workshops made up the bulk of the conference with programming delivered by K-12 teaching colleagues and other educators. An added bonus was an exhibit hall, complete with vendors on hand to hook up conference attendees with the latest instructional materials for use in the social studies classroom.
Social events included an appetizer reception where guests networked with colleagues and friends, an awards dinner and a breakfast with a legislative advocate. Next year’s conference will be held in San Francisco.