Social Science Update

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together

January 2021 Social Science Newsletter


US Cap

Dear Social Science Teachers,

Over the last two years, I have used this newsletter to celebrate, cheer, and support your role in teaching the social sciences to Oregon students. More than once, I have written that this is an important time to be a social science teacher. The everyday events and headlines of student activism, federal elections, impeachment hearings, social and racial protests all provided opportunities to engage with students and the relevance of civics, history, economics, and the values of equality and justice. 

In the last four years, Oregon lawmakers passed and signed legislation requiring the teaching of Tribal History/Shared History, Ethnic Studies, and the Holocaust and other genocides, reinvigorating our content area with learning concepts expanding the narratives used to understand our history and world. It is clear that social science is central to a student's education and vital to a functioning democracy.

Today is a new challenge. The events of this moment are difficult to process. I am not sure that tomorrow is an easy time to be a social science teacher, but it is certainly an important one. Our students will want to understand what is happening. Many of tomorrow's classrooms will acknowledge the attack on the U.S. Capitol and our democracy. There is no perfect lesson for tomorrow, but the foundation you built to create a community of learning with your students will prove valuable. 

I also want to offer you encouragement and caution as you share images from the last 24 hours. Maslow's hierarchy places safety and security just above physiological needs. The health concerns of Covid-19, the isolation of closed schools, a summer of protest, and the events of today, create a tenuous sense of safety and security for teachers and students. Violent images of destruction, parading the Confederate flag through the U.S. Capitol, the juxtaposition of images of the police confrontation with BLM compared to police acquiescence in today's events have the potential to (re)traumatize students. Many students have access to all of these images, and they will impact students differently. Consider how you will respond and contextualize images that students might share that will be disturbing to others. 

As you contemplate the days and weeks ahead, please take time to care for yourself and share with your students the importance of disconnecting from the stress of the day.

Please let me know if there is anything I can do to support you and your students.

Amit Kobrowski

Included here are some resources that you may find helpful over the next few days and weeks.

Creating Civic Spaces in Troubling Times

ADL-Discussing Political Violence and Extremism with Students

Mikva-Attack on Capitol

Dr. Alyssa Hadley-Dunn Teaching the Days After

Newseum- Front Pages From Around the Country

Teaching Tolerance-Civic Disobedience 

PBS-Structured Academic Controversy 

Fostering Civil Discourse: How Do We Talk About Issues That Matter 

Fostering Civil Discourse: A Guide for Classroom Conversations.

Teaching About Controversial or Difficult Issues 

Civil Discourse in the Classroom 

AI books

2020: AICL's Best Books of 2020

This is the time of the year when annual "Best of" booklists come out. AICL has published our own Best Books lists for many years now. We like to make sure teachers have those suggestions as they think about what to bring into their classrooms. And as the winter holidays approach, we want families to know what's new and good in books with Native content, that they can give to the young people in their lives.


Classroom Law Project

Student Scholarship Opportunity

The application for The Bob & Marilyn Ridgley Classroom Law Project Scholarship opens at the end of January. A college-bound student recipient will receive $2,500 each year for four years for a total of $10,000. Learn more about the scholarship and application requirements here.

Trivia Night

Constitutional Trivia Night is back! Join Classroom Law Project on Wednesday, January 27, for an evening of Constitution-themed trivia in partnership with Untapped virtual trivia. Registration is now open! 

New Issue of the Oregon Journal of the Social Studies

The new Oregon Journal of the Social Studies issue (Vol. 8 No. 2) is now on the OCSS website. The issue includes an article about Oregon’s new Holocaust and Genocide Education curriculum and articles that may be of benefit for the new ethnic studies standards. Access the new journal issue and all archived issues .

Oregon teacher, Rebecca Eisenberg's article (pg. 36)(Re)Imagining the Use of Violent Imagery in an Anti-Racist Classroom provides important guidance when thinking about teaching "Hard History."


Human Rights and Justice in the Classroom: Core Concepts, Strategies, and Lessons for Educators -

OJMCHE is partnering with Stockton University’s Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies program to have scholars meet with Oregon educators to discuss different topics relevant to Holocaust and genocide education and practical applications. The first session will be on Wednesday, February 17, 2021 from 4 - 6pm. Below is the program description. Educators can find out more or register for the program here.

In this session, educators meet with Dr. Lauren Balasco and Dr. Mary Johnson from Stockton University’s Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide program to discuss a collection of readings on transitional justice abroad and in the United States. In addition to building content knowledge, educators will explore meaningful ways to engage students with this information. The program is open to any current K - 12 classroom educator is limited to twenty participants.

2021 Jakob and Sala Kryszek Art and Writing Competition -

The competition is open to middle and high school students. This year’s prompt asks students to reflect on Holocaust history and create a piece of writing or work of visual art that considers the role that laws played in the discrimination against and persecution and genocide of Jewish people, and the importance of civic responsibility and engagement. The two Grand Prize winners, one for art and the other for writing, will win a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for them, a guardian, and their teacher! The submission deadline is March 19, 2021. You can find the prompt, guidelines, and other important information on our website by clicking here. 

News Literacy

The News Literacy Project

The News Literacy Project offers several resources and services for educators, including an online learning platform, a free weekly newsletter, professional development opportunities, a variety of classroom materials and more. Check them out below, or read about them in our educator booklet.

Chehalem Cultural Center

Chehalem Cultural Center

Pre-Show music and slide show begins at 5:45PM
Program Begins at 6:00PMDue to COVID 19 gathering restrictions, this will be a fully live-streamed event on Youtube, Facebook, and Zoom. Details and Instructions for registering for event and logging on to livestream will be posted here soon!ASL and Spanish Interpretation will be available on the Zoom platform

Malcolm X

Book Review

The June Social Science Update included a review of The Sword And The Shield by Peniel Joseph comparing the political development and philosophies of Malcolm X and Dr. King. 

The Dead Are Arising is a far deeper dive into the life and death of Malcolm X. If what you know about Malcolm's life is based on the Spike Lee movie or Alex Haley's autobiography, Les Payne's fresh take is worth your time. If you have not spent time with Malcolm X, this is an excellent primer.

Payne builds context for Malcolm's life with detailed background on the experience of his parents. The depictions of the violence in Nebraska and Michigan adds to our understanding of the realities of racism above the Mason-Dixon Line. Payne does not shy away from exposing the unsavory side of Malcolm's pre-prison criminality and difficulties with his family. We are also treated to a more nuanced view of the unraveling of Malcolm's relationship with the Nation of Islam.

In a story that is part of the religious revivalism of the late 19th and early 20th century, Payne also provides a great deal of seldom told information on the origins of the Nation of Islam and its founder. 

Although the detail adds to the length, there are plenty of possible excerpts to use with students interested in learning more about Malcolm X and the political and social conditions that gave rise to his ministry and political philosophy.