CREATE Newsletter – January 2024. Issue 10


I. CREATE News and Updates

    Plans for 2024
    New 6th Grade Civics Resources Released
    Indiana Bar Foundation’s – Civic Health Index
    Indiana Civic Seal Legislation
    2024 National Civics Bee Extends Essay Submission Deadline
    Black History Month
    Indiana Council for the Social Studies conference
    Teacher Profile: Jessica Mixell, East Washington Academy

II. Opportunities for Teachers and Students

    Frederick Douglass Jazz performance
    IN250 Events
    Upcoming Professional Development: Alison Strole on Math and Civics
    Professional Development Calendar
    Summer Civic Learning Academy 2024
    Civics Trivia

III. Featured Resources

    Indiana Bar Foundation: 6th Grade Civics
    National History Day and the Indiana Historical Society


CREATE News and Updates

MCS and CREATE Have Exciting Plans in 2024!

The CREATE team is working on plans for the 2024 Summer Civic Learning Academy and Civic Learning Symposium.

CREATE’s mission is to support teachers in developing expertise and classroom resources that foster students’ learning and desire to be engaged, civic-minded citizens throughout their lives. CREATE was designed to support teachers and enhance the role of public schools in maintaining a healthy democracy for all.

CREATE’s broad definition of civics includes American history, geography, government, and media literacy, and our PD opportunities demonstrate that civics content can be included in every classroom. As we begin 2024, CREATE thanks all teachers and administrators for the time and effort expended so far in working with CREATE and integrating new knowledge and resources into K-12 classrooms!

Here’s a snapshot of some exciting events coming up in 2024.

  • January: EWA field trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art
  • February: Frederick Douglass Jazz Works*
  • March: MCHS field trip to Washington, DC and New York City
  • April: Civics Day at MCHS.
  • May: Tuesday, May 7, is Primary Election Day
  • June: CREATE’s Summer Civics Learning Academy
  • September: CREATE’s Annual Symposium
  • Ball State University’s CREATE Program Recognized in the Indiana Bar Foundation’s Civic Health Index

    The Indiana Bar Foundation’s recently released the 2023 Indiana Civic Health Index which places Ball State University’s CREATE program in the spotlight. CREATE has been acknowledged for its contributions to civic education and engagement.

    The CREATE program, has emerged as an initiative focused on fostering agency and engagement among students. The project integrates American history, geography, government, and media literacy, offering an innovative and evidence-based model for civic learning. The program’s success is underscored by its ability to adapt multiple evidence-based strategies, assess outcomes, and create a scalable model for civic capacity in K-12 schools.

    In the 2023 examination of Indiana’s Civic Health, CREATE’s impact is part of a broader effort to enhance our State’s democratic vitality. The Civic Health Index recognizes notable achievements in civic education, community involvement, and the vibrancy of local organizations as positive outcomes. These statewide efforts contribute to the social capital essential for a healthy democracy, fostering a sense of connectedness and mutual responsibility among Hoosiers.

    However, the Civic Health Index also sheds light on persistent challenges facing Indiana’s civic health. Disparities in educational access, uneven civic knowledge dissemination, and the issue of low voter participation present formidable obstacles. While Indiana has taken significant steps, such as a universal requirement for all sixth graders to receive a full semester of civics, the quality of instruction remains inconsistent throughout the state. The report emphasizes the need for continued investment in teacher preparation to ensure consistent and high-quality civics education.

    The 2023 Civic Health Index highlights the imperative to address factors like polarization, civic apathy, and barriers to political inclusivity. The rise of polarization underscores the need for initiatives fostering constructive dialogue and bridging ideological divides. The CREATE team supports an effort to strengthen the civic infrastructure that binds our communities and build a resilient democratic fabric.

    CREATE Project Applauds Civic Education Legislation in Indiana

    The CREATE project commends recent legislative efforts in Indiana that reinforce the importance of civic education in shaping informed and engaged citizens.

    In Indiana, Senators Jeff Raatz and John Crane have introduced Senate Bill 211 (SB211), a significant stride towards enhancing civic education. SB211 proposes the establishment of a Civic Seal program throughout Indiana, aiming to incentivize and recognize schools, teachers, and students who demonstrate exemplary civic knowledge and engagement.

    The CREATE project, acknowledges the vision and commitment of Senators Raatz and Crane in championing civic learning within the state. The proposed civic seals program aligns with CREATE’s mission of fostering agency and engagement among students, contributing to the development of an informed and civically active generation.

    Lawmakers in the House of Representatives have also shown support for a Bill, emphasizing the importance of civics education. Rep. Elizabeth Rowray, a key advocate for civic education, introduced a Bill in the house to support civics. This Bill would allow the Indiana Department of Education to establish standards of excellence in civics education and introduce a Civic Seal program. This approach demonstrates a commitment to recognizing and rewarding schools and students who excel in civic knowledge and engagement. Rep. Rowray emphasized the importance of understanding citizens’ responsibilities alongside their rights, fostering a sense of civic duty among the population. The House Bill passed the House Education Committee unanimously, underscoring the bipartisan support for prioritizing civic education in Indiana.

    The CREATE project appreciates Sen. Raatz, Sen. Crane, Rep. Rowray and other lawmakers for their dedication to enhancing civic education in the state. These legislative efforts align with the 2021 law authored by Rep. Tony Cook that introduced civics education into Indiana’s sixth-grade curriculum, emphasizing the state’s commitment to providing comprehensive civic learning experiences to students.

    The CREATE project looks forward to the continued progress of this legislation and its positive impact on the civic literacy and engagement of Indiana’s students. The CREATE project sees these legislative developments as steps in advancing civic education both regionally and nationally. These Bills address the critical need for civic literacy and active citizenship in our democracy.

    2024 National Civics Bee Extends Essay Submission Deadline: Inspiring Civic Engagement Among Middle School Students

    The 2024 National Civics Bee, an initiative fostering civic engagement among young Americans, is delighted to announce an extension of the essay submission deadline to February 19, 2024. In collaboration with The Civic Trust® of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the competition aims to empower middle schoolers to deepen their understanding of American democracy, contribute to their communities, and cultivate trust in others and institutions.

    The first-round civics essay competition invites middle school students from across Delaware County to share their insights in 500-word essays. A panel of community leaders will meticulously review each submission, selecting the top 20 students to advance to the final round — a live quiz event designed to test their civics knowledge. All finalists will be equipped with new tablets for the quiz event and as personal rewards for their outstanding efforts.

    Top-performing students in the final round stand a chance to win significant prizes, including cash awards of $500, $250, and $125. Moreover, the winners will have the opportunity to compete at the State level, showcasing their civic knowledge and contributing to the broader discourse on civic participation.

    “The Civics Bee provides a platform for students to voice their thoughts, ideas, and perspectives about our community. It is not just a competition; it’s a journey towards deeper civic understanding and active participation,” according to the National Civics Bee Organizer.

    Encourage your students to seize this opportunity to enrich their knowledge of civics, express their views, and make a positive impact on their community.

    For detailed information on the essay topic, competition rules, prizes, and to submit essays, please visit here.

    Instructions for Submitting Hard Copy Essays
    NCB Teacher Guide & Essay Rubric
    Outreach Letter- Educator (MCS Teacher)
    Student Flyer – February Deadline

    New Teacher Resources for the 6th Grade Civics Course

    Starting this month, a significant milestone awaits MCS students as the state of Indiana introduces a mandatory civics course for 6th graders. This initiative marks a crucial step in shaping the future citizens and leaders of our great State. CREATE’s faculty lead David Roof says “Civic education plays a pivotal role in preparing students for active and informed citizenship. By understanding the principles of democracy, the structure of government, and the rights and responsibilities of citizens, our youth gain the tools they need to participate meaningfully in our democratic society. This mandate ensures that all Indiana middle school students have access to this essential knowledge.”

    CREATE is excited to share the Indiana Bar Foundation’s new comprehensive collection of resources that support MCS educators prepping to teach the new required semester of 6th grade civics. These new resources are academic standard-aligned classroom materials ready to use in the classroom. The materials are available free of charge with registration. For each Standard 1-17, teachers can access standard-specific:

    • Lesson plans
    • Reading selections
    • Student activities and handouts
    • PowerPoint presentations
    • Vocabulary guides

    These online materials are based on IBF’s We the People: the Citizen and the Constitution curriculum and supplement IBF’s existing resources and programs that also include Indiana Mock Trial and Indiana Kids Election. Teachers with questions can contact CREATE or Tim Kalgreen, IBF’s Director of Education at:

    The Foundation is proud to be a leader and partner in providing teachers and school communities with ready-to-use sixth-grade civics lesson plans and related teaching materials. This is the first semester of the middle school civics class, and we want to do all we can to provide teachers and their students with relevant and quality information,” said Charles Dunlap, IBF President & CEO.


    Black History Month

    The United States Mint just released three coins commemorating the life and achievements of a courageous abolitionist and conductor on the Underground Railroad. Public Law 117-163 is the Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Commemorative Coin Act. CREATE wants to know what you and your students will do to observe Black History Month, both inside and outside of the classroom. CREATE may be able to provide support for instructional activities or professional development. Contact CREATE at to discuss your ideas.

    Indiana Council for the Social Studies

    The CREATE project was a prominent participant at the Indiana Council for the Social Studies (ICSS) Annual Conference on November 10. The conference serves as a hub for educators, researchers, and professionals passionate about social studies education. This collaboration between CREATE and ICSS promises to provide positive experiences and resources for educators, providing a platform to explore innovative approaches to social studies education. This year’s theme was “To Secure the Blessings of Liberty,” inspired by the preamble of the United States Constitution and aligned perfectly with CREATE’s mission.

    At the conference, CREATE showcased MCS success stories. These stories highlighted the positive outcomes and transformative experiences that have resulted from integrating civics into our K-12 schools.

    Teacher Profile: Jessica Mixell

    This month CREATE highlights the work of Jessica Mixell, a 4th grade teacher at East Washington Academy who is in her third year of teaching at MCS. In addition to teaching her students a wide variety of subject content, Jessica strives every day to incorporate civics dispositions into her students‘ activities. “I truly believe that as a teacher my job is to help create future citizens who are good and kind,” she says. “Part of going to school is learning how to be a citizen. By teaching civics it allows students to connect to the world around them in a way that is meaningful to them.”

    Jessica’s students joined those of Makenzie Parkison (EWA) and Julie Snider (Muncie Central High School) last year on a trip to Indianapolis to meet with Judge Douglas Ginsberg of the U.S. District Court of Appeals. They learned about the judicial process, asked questions about legal concepts and careers, and examined original printings of historic books and documents displayed by The Remnant Trust. “This was an awesome trip for the students because it allowed them to converse with high school students on topics they haven’t discovered yet, such as the Magna Carta,” she says. “As a class we have been looking at colonial history and the events that led up to the foundation of America. The students have been using the information that they learned on this trip to help them create a magazine.”

    Jessica is partnering with CREATE to provide additional off-campus activities for her students that amplify classroom learning. Following completion of a unit on the Renaissance, she and Joseph Boggs, Chyna Cain, and Mackenzie Parkison worked with CREATE to organize a field trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art on January 26. “My students will be able to see artwork and connect to the content in a deeper way,” she says. Planning for the future, she is exploring ways to expand on classroom content about Colonial America, to “take the students on another trip that connects to what we are learning!” CREATE would love to hear your ideas on field trips that support civics-related learning in your classroom and may be able to offer support. Contact CREATE to discuss your plans!


    Opportunities for Teachers and Students

    Free MCS Performance: Frederick Douglass Jazz
    Frederick Douglass Jazz Works will present original musical compositions paired with Frederick Douglass’ words from his speeches and writings in a performance at BSU’s Pruis Hall on Thursday, February 22, at a morning time to be announced. MCS teachers can bring students to the performance free of charge. FDJW’s creator Ruth Naomi Floyd developed the piece in honor of Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), “an enslaved African in America who escaped to freedom and became a leading orator, political activist, abolitionist, writer, banker, ambassador, theologian and statesman.” The performance explores themes of tragedy, grief, despair, and injustice in American slavery, combined with hope, joy, perseverance, and triumph. Teachers with questions can contact Nathan Snow of BSU’s Institute for the Study of Political Economy. FDJW also will present a free public performance at Pruis Hall on Thursday, February 22, at 7:00 p.m. MCS teachers who attend that performance will receive PD reimbursement by contacting CREATE and completing a short survey. Floyd also lectures on the intersection of beauty, theology, and the arts, emphasizing the power of music and all the arts to speak profoundly to the human condition and enrich the human spirit.

    IN250 Is Underway

    Mark your calendars! The United States of America will celebrate its 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 2026. On December 12, CREATE Project Director Donna Browne attended the statewide kick-off of the Indiana Semiquincentennial Commission at the Indiana Statehouse. The Commission’s mission is to “renew patriotism, honor diversity, strengthen service to our community, state, and country with the intention to enhance belief in the world’s oldest continually existing Constitutional Republic and its future. Speakers discussed the importance of the Declaration and the American experiment in representative democracy and reviewed how Americans celebrated previous anniversaries in 1826, 1876, 1926, and 1976. Re-enactors dressed in military uniform and backwoods dress discussed colonial life with attendees. Events planned so far include a celebration at the Indiana War Memorial in Indianapolis and a torch relay through all 92 Indiana Counties. Event organizers throughout the state can submit information for listing on the website.

    Celebrations during the Bicentennial in 1976 emphasized populism and were coordinated largely by individuals and communities and included parades, re-enactments, and exhibits. At Philadelphia, then-President Gerald Ford remembered the 56 signers who risked their lives and property as well as the sacrifices made by ordinary men and women in the fight for Independence, noting that the American Revolution was “unique in that it was fought in the name of the law as well as liberty” and that the United States Constitution was “created to make the promise of the Declaration come true.” At 2 p.m., thousands of bells across the country rang out to celebrate that 200th birthday.

    Education resources on the IN250 website highlight:
    Native Americans in Indiana
    Historical Destinations in Indiana
    Historical Markers
    History Sources
    Hoosiers and the American Story
    Indiana from the Northwest Ordinance to Statehood
    Statehood Facts
    County Facts


    Upcoming Paid PD on Zoom

    Alison Strole teaches middle school math at Hamilton Southeastern. Her innovative teaching strategies were featured in Education Week in the article Math: The Most Powerful Civics Lesson You’ve Never Had.” Alison grew tired of hearing her students say “When am I ever going to use this?” and devised innovative teaching that incorporates rich tasks that ask students to problem solve and apply their learning in an authentic way. Her students used math concepts to analyze 20 years of exit-poll data and demographic trends to demonstrate the power of math to support her school in readying young people for engaged citizenship. Bringing her community into her classroom, Alison combines math with civics to show students how to analyze data and evaluate options and choices, both as voters and community members. These skills are critical in considering national issues, local issues such as matters for a school board and local government, and personal choices such sustainable consumption. Alison will present on Wednesday, February 21 at 4:15 p.m. Participating teachers will receive a $50.00 stipend. Email CREATE Project Director Donna Browne at to register for the Zoom link.

    Professional Development Calendar

    CREATE can provide funding for MCS teachers who attend professional development (PD) opportunities related to civics and history content and pedagogy. To qualify for PD funds, we ask that teachers complete a brief registration form prior to the event and a brief survey following the event.

    See the current CREATE Professional Development Calendar Here

    Summer Civics Learning Academy 2024
    Mark your calendars! This year’s 8-day Summer Civics Learning Academy is scheduled for Monday-Thursday, June 17-20 and Monday-Thursday, June 24-27 at the Ball State University Student Center. SCLA will focus on teaching strategies and resources for elementary school educators. It will feature sessions led by local MCS and community presenters as well as presentations by nationally recognized innovators. SCLA is a paid PD opportunity, and participating teachers will receive a stipend. Planning is underway, so CREATE wants to hear from YOU. What topics or problems do you want to explore in a session with your colleagues? Email CREATE Project Director Donna Browne with your ideas!

    CREATE’s 2023 SCLA welcomed 31 secondary teachers from MCS. MCS social studies teacher Julie Snider presented Preserving Democracy through Civics, and economics teacher Drew Shermeta presented Make as You Go. Special sessions highlighted local history with a bus tour; a panel featuring Indiana State Representative Sue Errington, County Commissioner Sherry Riggin, and Mayor Dan Ridenour; and two afternoons of interaction with students from Ivy Tech’s Upward Bound program to identify community problems and develop action plans, led by BSU’s John West. Other session topics included Middle School Mandate, Civics Across Content Areas, We the People Curriculum, Linking Content with Dispositions, Mapmaking for the Classroom, Controversial Topics, Restorative Justice, Youth Voice to Action, Liberty and Justice for All, TRUST ME: The Media Explained and Explored, Civics and Career Readiness, Teacher Leadership, Civics Solutions for the 21st Century, Community of Philosophical Inquiry, and Working with Afghan Students and Their Families.

    Civics Trivia

    Which phrase does NOT appear in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution?
    A. Blessings of Liberty
    B. Self-Evident
    C. General Welfare
    D. Perfect Union

    Answer: B. Self-Evident


    Featured Resource

    Featured Professional Development Resource: Indiana Bar Foundation

    The Indiana Bar Foundation’s new Sixth Grade Civics resources support each of Indiana’s 17 civics Standards with a Lesson, Video Resources, an Inquiry-Based Question, and a referral to a related Lesson in IBF’s We The People Curriculum. Resources are provided in a variety of formats and platforms. A Class Guidance Chart provides 1-5 topic suggestions for each Standard. Teachers can access materials for Standard 1 immediately and access other Standards with a free registration.

    For example, Standard 1 is “Summarize the principles and purposes of government as stated in the Preamble to the United States Constitution.”
    Lesson materials include:

      Class PowerPoint
      Class Guide
      Vocabulary Worksheet
      Critical thinking Exercises
      Biography Reading Gouverneur Morris

    The curated Video Resource is “We The People” (2:28) from the Center for Civics Education, available on YouTube.

    CREATE has provided grade-appropriate copies of the We the People Curriculum to all MCS schools.

    National History Day

    Join National History Day and the Indiana Historical Society to learn about an opportunity to bring inquiry-based learning to your classroom for the 2024/2025 academic year. Learn about a new project supported by the Bezos Family Foundation that includes teacher stipends and budgets for classroom supplies. Social Studies teachers, English/Language Arts teachers, Library Media Specialists, and Special Educators, and pre-service teachers in grades 6–12 are welcome. Questions? Contact Lexi Gribble at


    CREATE can support MCS teachers! If you have questions or to recommend additional events, please email

    To stay informed of the latest resources and opportunities, sign up for CREATE’s email list.

    Please Visit the CREATE Website.

    CREATE Wants to Hear Your Questions and Ideas

    Feel free to contact with any questions or comments you have about participating.

    CREATE is grateful for the support of the U.S. Department of Education.