Large or small, I like social studies conferences. Teachers starve for social studies professional development because it differs from other subject area conferences.
The social studies include four core subject areas: geography, economics, history and civics.
- Geography: Now I ask you who isn’t interested in traveling? One of our CCSS exhibitors offers teachers expenses paid trip for two weeks to Germany. Do they have offers like that in math conferences?
The activity we did at the N. CA conference this weekend had us identifying where and when pictures had been taken. Each group of 4 had two different pictures. This particular activity showed change over time in Germany.
- Economics: Do you run out of month or paycheck first?What would happen if we quit shipping the 40% of California’s agricultural products overseas, could we save water in drought-ridden California? Studying economics helps students grapple with historic and current issues, trace the consequences and predict future results from actions we take today. Conferences bring you face to face with people in the know like Dr. Jim Charkins of the California Council for Economics Education.
- History: Scholars from near and far engaged us in conversations about WWI, the trenches, the music, the need to enlist before the selective service started, and the propaganda to get people to enlist.
Now I understand a little piece of my grandfather’s life a little better.
At the other conference we Skyped author/scholar, Allyson Hobbs from Stanford, also sponsored by Glider Lehrman Institute who studied the effects of African-Americans who passed for white, and what they missed from their black culture by giving up their identities. Can you imagine giving up/turning your back on who you are? She made it personal.
- Civics: We met three speakers involved in landmark Supreme Court cases. Sylvia Mendez’s younger sister never knew the court case happened until she studied the effect on the Civil Rights movement in high school. Karen Korematsu spoke about her father, Fred Korematsu’s opposition to the federal government, prison, Supreme Court Case. We met Mary Beth Tinker, Tinker V Des Moines, who wore a black armband to school, to express her views. She didn’t think it was any big deal at the time. Now she talks to children around the country. She told us stories of amazing children, and what they can do that adults couldn’t.
We heard Major General Patrick Brady tell us that people may not have equal opportunities, but we all have access to as much courage as they want. The more we use, the more we have.
We met political cartoonist, Lalo Alcaraz who has one of his paintings hanging from the wall of Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor
Where else but a social studies conference can you rub elbows with people who played a part in exciting events you read about in the news?
Intensity sparked like electricity during a Power of Democracy Task Force meeting. Where can you get direct contact with legislators, Department of Justice, and Department of Education at the same time?
We honored our best and finest social studies teachers at the awards program – AKA Emmys. Twitterers tweeted during the conference.
Brent won a bicycle at the membership booth. Exhibitors gave free stuff to everyone. Best of all teachers connected with other teachers and shared ideas.
Next March we go to Oakland. The National Conference will be in Boston in November. California Council Needs YOU! If you teach history-social studies in CA, please join us.