Secondary Social Studies Newsletter

March 2015

Texas Social Studies Supervisor of the Year

From Left to Right, Meridith Manis, Jerry Perry (LRE), Dodie Kasper, Chip Kasper, Janie Worst (LRE), Angela Romney

    Dodie Kasper, High School Social Studies Coordinator, was honored by Texas Social Studies Supervisors Association in Austin on Friday and received the 2015 Dr. Rosemary Morrow Social Studies Supervisors Award. Dodie was nominated and supported by her colleagues in FISD and her partners in Law Related Education (LRE).  Dodie was chosen by the association for her dedication to quality social studies curriculum and instruction not only in FISD but throughout the state and nation with her work with LRE and the George W. Bush Presidential Library where she has worked to develop curriculum for educators.  Those of you who have worked closely with Dodie know she is a constant professional, a life-long learner, and a born leader.

     While her title is High School Coordinator, she takes great pride and ownership in building a quality K-12 program in our district. Often you will find her in K-8 meetings, taking notes, asking questions, and setting goals for vertical work. She always goes the extra mile to support our program.

     Dodie also serves as a mentor to teachers and instructional coaches at all levels. She has strong relationships with educators and is able to pull, push, and nudge others to provide the best opportunities for students.

     As a selfless colleague, she regularly coordinates with teachers in FISD and beyond to develop quality lessons and materials for students. She then shares without hesitation to anyone who would like the resources.

     Dodie serves as the secondary coordinator for the State Bar of Texas Law Related Education Department and Law Focused Education, Inc. She has been on the ground floor of every new initiative as well as advising the Texas Young Lawyers Association on their education projects. Working with the LRE team she develops quality curriculum and professional development that makes a difference all over our state.

     This fall, Dodie took her work to a national level, through the George W. Bush Presidential Library. She helped develop curriculum that she presented in Boston at National Council for Social Studies Conference. Dodie is truly a blessing to our field and our students.

Writing to Learn

     As review season heats up don't forget to continue having the students write.   Through writing students solidify their understanding of content and students are more actively engaged when authentically writing.  These assignments ask students to write what they are thinking and learning. Examples of ways to incorporate writing include journals, free writes, reflections, reading responses, annotations, primary source analysis, thinking maps, summarizing, and categorizing.  These strategies get students thinking and making connections with prior knowledge.     

     Not all writing-to-learn activities must be graded and they don't have to take a long time.  Offering feedback and comments are powerful to encourage thinking and deeper understanding.  

     As you are planning your reviews try to incorporate some writing into those activities and see if your students aren't more engaged and able to increase their understanding through the process.

- Writing Strategies for Social Studies, Shell Education

Summer Professional Learning

                          Social Studies Backwards Planning for Learning

     In this two day conference, experts will share content and best practices and then time will be given for application of this knowledge to a current unit of study. Teachers will work in content teams as well as vertical groups to address the needs of students.  We encourage you to attend the sessions with your teammates so you can leave the course with some new lessons.  However, if you are not able to do so, you will be paired with another campus in the same subject area.  We ask that teachers identify a unit to work on during this course and come with unit test bank, unit testing data, and blue books to the class.   In preparation for the course, we are also asking teachers to identify a unit of study that they would like to hear a lecture on from a professor.  We are currently working with our Professional Learning Cadre to plan the course so please let your IC know which unit you would like to hear a lecture over.  We are contacting professors soon.  

Registration opens on April 27th.  

Session 1: June - 25 and 26

Session 2: July - 30 and 31

Textbook Update

Middle School Collaborative

    Due to the ice days, the Textbook committee is rescheduled for this Tuesday, March 3rd to make recommendations for textbooks.  This is the final opportunity to submit feedback for our committee to consider.  Use the links below to submit rankings and rationale for what your teams would like in regards to textbooks.  

We would love to hear from every team before the Tuesday selection meeting.

World Cultures

Texas History

8th US History

World Geography

World History

11th US History



     The last Middle School Collaborative is on Tuesday March 3rd in the CTE training rooms.  Please come with topics to discuss with colleagues.  8th grade teachers will also get new ideas for STAAR review that were shared at the TSSSA conference in Austin last week.   Click below to register.

Texas Independence Day

     March 2 is Texas Independence Day!  Below are excerpts from the state resolution marking this week the spirit of Texas Week.  

     Therefore, be it resolved, that the Senate of Texas, the House of Representatives concurring therein, does here and now approve this Resolution and set apart annually the entire week in which March the Second comes as a season to be known as Texas Week; and by this action of the Legislature His Excellency, the Governor of Texas, is hereby vested with the power and is besought to issue and to publish annually his proclamation outlining the purpose and the spirit of Texas Week and urging every citizen of this State to exalt and extol the highest and the best cultural and spiritual values of Texas throughout Texas Week;

     First, it is enjoined that every home; every office, place of business and industry; every school, parochial, private, or public; every college and university; and all institutions of whatever class or character, educational or eleemosynary, be requested through this Resolution and the annual proclamations of the Governor of Texas to hoist a Texas Flag from some prominent point of vantage and let it be unfurled each day during Texas Week; and

     Second, it is now and ever shall be expected that all teachers and pupils in every school of whatever class or classification shall observe Texas Week appropriately in general assemblies, in classes, clubs, and in any and all other groups as they may be assembled for school work; that schools be encouraged to assemble exhibits of Texas products, pictures, relics, books and documents, and hang in permanent places pictures of famous heroes of Texas; that schools which are in reach of battle fields, missions, and other places of historical interest and importance are hereby encouraged to make patriotic pilgrimages to such places of fame during Texas Week; but it is understood that no school is to celebrate Texas Week as a season of holidays. On the other hand, better work shall be expected of all schools throughout Texas Week;

To read more of the resolution click on link below

Think you or your students know a lot about Texas History?  Check out the Texas Quiz Show!

     The Texas Quiz Show is a fast-paced series of quizzes about all things Texas for students in fourth through eighth grade. Practice quizzes are available in the fall and winter for use as a classroom activity. During Texas History Month, students compete in a series of progressively more challenging quizzes for a chance to come to Austin and play live in front of a studio audience. Categories include history, politics, sports, pop culture, weather, geography and so much more. Players race to beat the clock and each other in the ultimate challenge to see who knows Texas best!

Women's History Month

     Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week." Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as "Women’s History Week." In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month."  Who printed the first copy of the Declaration of Independence that included the signers’ names? (reply with an answer to Dodie or Meridith) Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”

Click here for resources on Women's History Month


Summer Curriculum Writing

  Congratulations to Chere Garner at Roach for winning last month's trivia drawing.  Chere will receive a class set of clear protectors for winning.  Don't forget to send in your answers to this month's question to Dodie or Meridith to be entered into the drawing.  

     We are know accepting applications for summer curriculum writing.  Please submit applications before March 27th to be considered for a position.  Email applications to Meridith Manis or Dodie Kasper.

Summer Professional Learning Opportunity

"Rethinking the Gilded Age and Progressive Era: Capitalism, Democracy, and Progressivisms, 1877 to 1920”

A Summer Institute for Current and Future K-12 Teachers

Sponsored by the: National Endowment of the Humanities

July 5-31, 2015

Chicago, Illinois

     The Chicago Metro History Education Center, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Loyola University Chicago invite K-12 teachers to apply for “Rethinking the Gilded Age and Progressive Era: Capitalism, Democracy, and Progressivisms, 1877 to 1920.” Participants in this National Endowment for the Humanities-sponsored program will spend four weeks in Chicago, a center of Progressive Era reform, engaging in vigorous discussions about this critical time period in American history and creating materials to use in their classrooms. Award-winning historian Robert Johnston (University of Illinois at Chicago) will guide the institute’s academic content, with the help of renowned experts in history, art, and architecture. Charles Tocci (Loyola University Chicago) will direct teaching application discussions, along with master teacher Michael Biondo (Maine South High School). For more information, contact Rachel Allmen, CMHEC,

Benefits include:

Stimulating readings and discussions with scholars and peers

Time to explore and create practical applications for your classroom

A $3,300 stipend to defray travel, lodging, and study expenses

A chance to personally experience Chicago’s Gilded Age and Progressive Era history and culture

For full details, visit

Applications are due March 2, 2015.