April Social Science Newsletter

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Oregon Department of Education - Oregon achieves - together



New Ancient History

Dead sea scrolls

Tatyana Bitler, a conservator of Israeli Antiquities Authority, showed fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls at their laboratory in Jerusalem on June 2, 2020.MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

Ancient History and Current Events; the Oregon Social Science Standards provide opportunities for teachers and students to explore and discuss both. On occasion, discoveries in ancient history make it into the news. This month, archeologists revealed newly discovered contents of the intriguingly named Cave of Horror. The uncovering of fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest intact basket (`10,000 years old), arrow and spearheads, coins, and human remains, will keep historians, archeologists, and religious scholars, busy for years to come. The story of how these caves were first found and excavated, the political and physical geography of the area, and how historians and scientists use evidence to continue to fill in the puzzle of the ancient world, make for interesting reading, viewing, and discussion.


Amit Kobrowski

ODE Social Science Specialist


Note: Unless hosted or facilitated by The Oregon Department of Education (ODE), these training opportunities have not been endorsed by ODE, but are being shared as relevant and high-quality opportunities.


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 instead of a macabre fixation on the final moments 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 Oregon 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

Beyond Chinatown: Uncovering Oregon’s Rural Chinese History

Oregon Encyclopedia: Chinese Americans in Oregon

Oregon Encyclopedia: Japanese Americans in Oregon

Oregon Encyclopedia: Hmong Immigration


OCSS Conference

April 3, 2021

Theme: Pluralistic Civic Engagement in a Time of Social Polarization - Promoting student agency, connecting justice movements of the past to those of the present, and addressing social divisions

If you're in a school district, please consider asking your supervisor to fund the full registration fee for this opportunity to remain fresh on social studies curriculum and instruction in the state. Otherwise, it's sliding scale.

Please register here:

You may access the full program here:

Classroom Law

Classroom Law Project- April Events and Opportunities

Digital Workshop: Civic Engagement & the Ethics of Public Health

Join us on Saturday, April 10, for our Civic Engagement & the Ethics of Public Health digital workshop, offered through a partnership with the Wayne Morse Center for Law & Politics. We will share lessons to encourage your students to think critically about relevant public health issues as we continue to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic

One fun way to participate is by bringing along your Science colleagues (or other teaching partners) to collaborate on cross-curricular projects, weaving Community Action Projects, like Project Citizen, into a variety of scientific, medical, technological, and bioethical issues. Please invite them to come with you! Stipends will be provided for all participating Oregon teachers.

Ridgley Scholarship Application

The application for The Bob & Marilyn Ridgley Classroom Law Project Scholarship is now open, offering an opportunity for a college-bound senior to receive $2,500 each year for four years for a total of $10,000. Students who have participated in any Classroom Law Project program, either in class or in competition, are encouraged to apply! 

The application closes Sunday, April 4. Learn more about the scholarship and application requirements here.

Law Day

Classroom Law Project's Law Day this year will take place asynchronously online throughout the week of April 26. We will offer a slate of resources to help facilitate Law Day with your students. Registration is now open!



The passage of SB664 in 2019 requires school districts to address nine learning concepts identified for teaching about the Holocaust and other genocides. ODE created a crosswalk document to help teachers of every grade address the learning concepts and the 2018 social science standards. SB13 resources also include lessons on genocide.

Below are a number of opportunities for teachers and students to learn more on the Holocaust and other genocides.


Community Education online course with Natan Meir: History of Antisemitism


This intensive mini-course, taught on Zoom by Professor Natan Meir, will chart the development of hostility towards Jews from antiquity to the present day.

In lectures and discussion, students will gain an understanding of how anti-Jewish hostility has persisted over millennia even as it has adapted to individual historical and geographic contexts.

Topics include anti-Jewish bias in the ancient world and foundational Christian sources; social and economic marginalization and expulsions in medieval Europe; the emergence of political and racial antisemitism in the nineteenth century; Nazi antisemitism; and contemporary expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment, including left- and right-wing antisemitism and conspiracy theories such as QAnon.

History of Antisemitism
Tuesdays 5:00 p.m. - 6:50 p.m. PT
Dates: 4/13, 4/20, 4/27, 5/4, 5/11, 5/18
Professor Natan Meir


Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education

Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month, which marks the anniversaries of multiple acts of genocide, provides the opportunity to pause and remember some of the world’s most painful histories. Only when we can reflect on these difficult moments, can we move forward to take meaningful action to prevent atrocities from occurring again. 

OJMCHE is proud to be a part of a coalition of partners to commemorate Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. During the month, we welcome you to join us for “Rising Up for Human Dignity” — a series of free events, ranging from musical performances, Yom HaShoah services, to academic discussions. In this series, we will honor the memories of the past, examine the causes and risks of mass atrocities today, and learn what can be done to not only prevent violence but foster community-based pathways to peace.

Student Book & Film Circle: The Holocaust 
April 7 from 5:30 - 6:30pm
During this second Book & Film Circle session, participants will be asked to watch the 2019 film Jojo Rabbit and/or read the book Night by Elie Wiesel. Jojo Rabbit is a satirical film directed by Taika Waititi about the Hitler Youth and antisemitic propaganda during the Holocaust but is also a story of resistance. Night is a memoir that recounts the author’s experiences as a Jewish victim of the Holocaust who was deported from his hometown of Sighet, Romania and imprisoned at Auschwitz and Buchenwald. We hope to discuss the messages of this book and movie, the histories they portray, and how the accounts they share continue to be relevant today, especially in the face of a present rise in antisemitism. 
The event will take place at the start of Yom Hashoah—Holocaust Remembrance Day—and we hope to set our intentions for this meaningful day with discussion and reflection.



Lessons from the Past: Understanding the Holocaust and Human Rights Violations

This intensive professional development seminar, offered by The Olga Lengyel Institute (TOLI) in partnership with the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, will provide educators with the opportunity to expand their awareness and understanding of the Holocaust and other, more recent genocides. Teachers will evaluate history, looking closely at world-changing decisions made at key moments in time. They will collaborate to develop classroom strategies to help their students understand how the past affects the present, find their voice in speaking out for social justice, and envision the wide-reaching impact of their future choices. Participants will also explore ways to integrate instruction on racial and ethnic discrimination in Oregon, specifically within the context of Japanese-American incarceration during World War Two. We will also focus on best practices for implementing new state mandates in Holocaust, genocide and Native American history. 

To apply: https://www.toli.us/oregon-application/

Application Deadline: May 1st with rolling acceptance 

Jewish federation

Portland Jewish Federation: Uncovering the Hidden History of Discrimination in Oregon

From October 2020 to March 2021, a broad coalition of friends and allies came together and created a series of public programs to confront hate. The series of recorded webinars represent people who have historically—and continually—been the targets of discrimination and hatred in Oregon are presented by a broad group of organizations and speakers in our greater Portland community.

During 2020 we were reminded, almost daily, that our communities of color, immigrants, and LGBTQ persons, as well as many of our neighbors of various religious faiths, are frequent targets of vicious hatred. Nevertheless, we have also seen seeds of hope. We have witnessed an upsurge of people ready to stand in solidarity with those who are targets of discrimination and hate—people who are eager to listen, to learn, and to take action to make Portland a place that truly protects the lives, well-being, and dignity of all who live here.

The culmination of our series is the Community Call to Confront Hate Summit on May 26th. 

Please register here for the Summit. 


OHS Job Announcement

You could be the person to shape Portland history for third graders for years to come! The Oregon Historical Society (OHS) has partnered with Portland Public Schools (PPS) to create a series of third-grade readers on Portland history – and we are both hiring Youth History Writer for this work and seeking teachers who can serve on a related advisory group. The draft publications, which must be completed on a short timeline, will introduce Portland elementary readers to the subjects of Portland history since time immemorial, the city’s geography and geology, biographies of Portlanders, and ways activism (especially by youth) has shaped the city. The Youth History Writer will have demonstrated commitment to valuing Oregon social science/Ethnic Studies standards as well as Indigenous knowledge and perspective. This is a fixed-term appointment with competitive pay and no benefits. Full job announcement and link to apply are here

Teacher Advisory Group

Members of the Teacher Advisory Group will have experience teaching elementary Portland history and/or opportunity to bring the readers into the classrooms during the 2021-2022 school year and provide feedback. Historians and OHS staff will also participate in the group. The commitment is from spring 2021 through spring 2022, and will include regular meetings (likely monthly) as well as review and analysis of materials. Educators will be compensated for their time on this project. To apply to join the group, fill out this form.

Sum of US

The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee

There is no shortage of books that you can read to better understand the history and effect of race and racism in the United States. This space has featured many such titles in the last two years. However, what makes McGhee's work different is the new angle from which she decides to tell this history.

Sum of Us begins with the story of the construction of grand public swimming pools of the 1920s-1950s. These centerpieces of community recreation were lavish in size and style. They were also segregated. After the federal government began to support desegregation, cities across the U.S. drained their public pools rather than desegregate. Sum of Us is a deep but very readable examination of "drained pool" policies. Policies that remove or refuse to provide an accommodation for all people because that would mean access for everyone. 

The book is appropriate background reading for teachers of every grade and excerpts from chapters on student debt, health care, environmental justice, and housing could be used with high school students. There are many podcasts featuring interviews with McGhee if you would like to listen to her explain the ideas within the book.


Personal Finance Challenge

The Council on Economics Education is sponsoring a “Personal Finance Challenge”.  This is a nationwide competition that provides high school students the opportunity to build and demonstrate their knowledge of money management. Teams showcase their expertise in the concepts of earning income, buying goods and services, saving, using credit, investing, and protecting. 

 This fun and motivating team experience begins with competitions at the state level. The winning team from each state moves on to the National Semi-Finals from which the top-scoring teams advance to compete for the National Title. For spring 2021, Semi-Finals and Finals competitions will be held entirely online.  For more information about this, please follow this link; https://www.councilforeconed.org/npfc-2/

Since we do not have an Oregon contest yet at this time, Oregon schools will compete in the “Wildcard” group of states.  Register

 First place winner of the national competition will receive $2000; 2nd place, $1000; 3rd place $500 and 4th place, $250.

This contest ends on April 23rd.  

April is Financial Literacy month! Here is a listing of some April webinars which might interest you;

If you are not already, consider joining EconEdLink. It is free. Here is the link for joining; https://econedlink.org/

Listen to Ben S. Bernanke (former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank under Pres. Obama) in an interview on the US economy now. “In the Room” with Dr. Ben S. Bernanke.  Here is the link to the interview;  

state lib

LearningExpress Library and PrepSTEP Have AP Test Prep Materials

LearningExpress offers a skill-building and test-preparation product, and it is available through OSLIS at no cost to the Oregon K-12 community. In the past, all users, whether K-12 or not, accessed the resources from the same platform: LearningExpress Library. However, the company recently created separate platforms for various audiences. PrepSTEP for High Schools consolidates the resources from LearningExpress Library that are most relevant for high schoolers, and it is now the default platform on OSLIS. Among other things, PrepSTEP/LEL offers materials to help students prepare for AP exams. From the secondary Find Information page on OSLIS, click through these three steps: LearningExpress logo => Prepare for College center => Get Ready for AP Tests. This Google doc has information about which AP subjects are covered, registering for an account on PrepSTEP/LEL, assigning PrepSTEP content via an LMS, and more. Please let your students know about this resource. Questions? Contact your library staff or Jen Maurer (jennifer.maurer@slo.oregon.gov) at the State Library.


Oregon Open Learning Logo

Oregon’s K-12 OER Hub

The Oregon Open Learning Hub is a digital resource repository and collaboration space for educators, administrators, and other educational partners to curate, create, and remix open educational resources (OER). The Hub is a portal to over 50,000 openly licensed resources available on OER Commons, searchable by grade level, subject, and standard. 

Here are a few suggestions to get started with OER Commons:

Please feel free to reach out to _______ with questions, comments, and suggestions, or contact  the Oregon Open Learning Team at OregonOpenLearning@state.or.us.