IN THIS ISSUE
I. CREATE News and Updates
CREATE in Action
Annual Civic Learning Symposium
Constitution Day and MCS Student Discussion with Judge Douglas Ginsburg
West View Students Commemorate 9/11
MCS Academic Innovation Summit
II. Opportunities for Teachers and Students
Professional Development Opportunities
Future Presidents of America
III. Featured Resource
Youth Civic Engagement Councils
I. CREATE News and Updates
CREATE In Action
Please watch a short overview of some of the events from the CREATE project’s first year, connecting Ball State University and Muncie Community Schools in preparing students for their role as citizens in our community and our democracy.
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” – James Madison.
2023 Civic Learning Symposium
CREATE’s 2023 Civic Learning Symposium hosted educators, administrators, community members, faculty, and other supporters from around Indiana on August 25th and 26th at the Ball State Student Center. On Friday evening, Ball State Provost Anand R. Marri noted that the National Center for Education Statistics released the 2023 NAEP data showing that average civics scores for U.S. eighth graders declined for the first time since 1998. Less than 25% of students nationally demonstrated a “proficient” understanding of civics, and 31% tested below the “basic” level.
Provost Marri noted that Indiana’s Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch chaired a Civic Education Task Force that created a new middle school civics course aimed at creating citizens who will contribute to a healthy democracy. Read more and watch the Lt. Governor’s opening remarks.
The Civic Learning Symposium also featured remarks from Indiana Secretary of Education, Dr. Katie Jenner who leads the Indiana Department of Education. Dr. Jenner said that “through civics education students understand, not only their rights, but also their responsibilities including their role in the democratic process.” She invited teachers to reach out to the Indiana Department of Education to tap into statewide resources for civic literacy like the ‘We The People’ program.
Moderated by Mary Dollison, Provost Marri and MCS Board President Jim Williams engaged in a panel discussion about their interest in public service and the importance of civic education to relation to other MCS initiatives.Muncie Central High School teacher Julie Snider received the Award for the Advancement of Civics and Education, presented by Brittany Bales, a former student inspired by Mrs. Snider to pursue a career in education and public service. Bales teaches at Ball State and has served as a member of the Muncie Community School Board.
CREATE’s lead faculty Dr. David Roof noted that the CREATE project had been approved for another year by the U.S. Department of Education and will continue to support MCS teachers in promoting civic education and engagement activities.
The Remnant Trust, a partner of CREATE, displayed an original draft copy of the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence.
Saturday morning’s presentations included a talk by MCHS teachers Julie Snider, Allen Kidd, and Brian Turner on their “Earth Day Civics” event which engaged students in community, civics, and collaboration by picking up trash and planting 14 trees, all spe- cies indigenous to Indiana. BSU Professor of Economics Nathanael Snow presented “The Bugs and Features of Voting,” a class project that developed students’ knowledge of elected representatives and provided tools to explore the benefit of becoming informed about candidates in upcoming elections. Tim Kalgreen, Director of Civic Education for the Indiana Bar Foundation, moderated a panel session titled “Mock Trials and We the People: Using Co- and Extra-Curricular Programs to En- hance Student Learning and Engagement” with Matt McMichael of the Individuals and Societies at Center for Inquiry at School 84 (Indianapolis) and Janet Chandler of Hamilton Southeastern High School. MCS teachers Hannah George and Elizabeth Gillentine led a discussion titled “Civics Across Content Areas” using commemoration of September 11th 2001 as a topic to teach oral history interviews, current events, government, and other disciplines such as heath, math, and science. Kate Elliott of BSU’s School of Journalism and Strategic Communication discussed the power and importance of hearing and telling stories in the classroom, when students are 22 times more likely to develop empathy and remember facts tied to stories through exercises such as active listening and writing.
Keynote speaker and 2019 National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson spoke on “What is Equity and Why does Every Child Deserve It?” and his work meeting the needs of students in the Richmond (Virginia) Detention Center. Robinson tells his students that “America is a country of second chances. And if you want a second chance, a high-quality education is the best way to take advantage of your second chance.”
After his speech, Robinson spent time talking and taking photos with teachers and administrators.
Muncie Central High and East Washington Academy Students Celebrate Constitution Day and Meet United States Court of Appeals Judge Douglas Ginsburg
Students from East Washington Academy and Muncie Central High School traveled to Indianapolis on September 14th to celebrate Constitution Day with visiting Judge Douglas Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, DC. The session was organized by The Remnant Trust and CREATE and was hosted in the historic Columbia Club on Monument Circle. Judge Ginsburg discussed the impact of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution and his experiences as an appellate judge. CREATE’s David Roof guided table discussions on liberty, limitations of power, and the importance of using juries of peers in the judicial process. An EWA student said “It was great to see why our laws were created the way they were and to talk to the high schoolers about what they were learning.” Judge Ginsburg answered students’ questions about a wide range of topics, including important cases, dissenting legal opinions, and academic training for careers in law. Fourth grade teacher Jessica Mixell thanked CREATE for arranging this opportunity “to allow our students to collaborate with high schoolers in our district as well as ask pressing questions to Judge Ginsburg.” The Remnant Trust displayed original documents dating from the 15th-19th Centuries that included illuminated manuscripts and printings of the Declaration of Independence, Magna Carta, Thomas Paine’s American Crisis, and an autobiography by Frederick Douglass. Students handled the documents, read their content, and look at handwritten margina- lia and decorations to establish a more personal connection to the individuals and ideas of the time.
West View Students Commerate 9/11
West View Elementary School teachers Elizabeth Gillentine, Hannah George, and Bre-Anna Serf guided 3rd and 5th grade students through the process of conducting oral history interviews with family and friends on the theme “I remember the day of September 11.” Using an interview form, students recorded the respondent’s age, where they were when they learned of events of 9/11, the impact, as well as their thoughts, feelings, or worries during and after 9/11. Students also recorded how the respondent’s life changed over the next few years as a result of 9/11. One student’s uncle was 25 years old, a member of the armed forces, and in a military hospital “listening to his daughter’s heartbeat for the first time.” He knew that he would be “going to war” and would have to leave his daughter for two years “to help the people that needed help.” Another student’s grandmother had visited the top of the World Trade Center the previous year. Her co-worker went to New York City to search for her missing brother who worked in the towers and died in the attack. “I always thought we were safe in America,” she said. The teachers created a bulletin board featuring a label introducing the project, interview forms showing questions and responses, an American flag made of the names of those lost, the Statue of Liberty, and the New York skyline.
CREATE Connects with Teachers at MCS Academic Innovation Summit
CREATE Project Director Donna Browne spoke with teachers about CREATE’s goals and activities at its table at the MCS Academic Innovation Summit at Muncie Central High School on September 22. Donna introduced CREATE with informational handouts and branded giveaways and reconnected with many alumni from CREATE’s paid summer professional development activities, including the Summer Civics Learning Academy, Summer Leadership Academy, and Annual Symposium. Donna encouraged teachers with ideas for civics-related projects or field trips to contact CREATE to explore ideas for collaboration.
Help Students Become Future Leaders
The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in Indianapolis runs the Future Presidents of America program, a week-long youth leadership camp whose mission is to develop “individual confidence, civic literacy, and good citizenship to reveal the exceptional qualities of character that make for great presidents and leaders.” Students aged 13-16 may apply starting October 15, and the camp will run from June 24-28, 2024. The number of participants is limited to 20. If selected, all participants will receive full scholarships. Contact Roger Hardig, Vice President of Education, at email@example.com.
History Holds the Key to the Future
Constituting America teaches students and adults across America about the nonpartisan relevancy of the U.S. Constitution and the principles of self-governance inherent in our founding documents. Its annual We the Future contest encourages elementary, middle, and high school students to enter original works on designated themes to win cash prizes from $100-$1,000. Allowable submissions vary according to grade, but include works such as essays, songs, poems, STEM projects, short films, social media videos, holiday cards, or pub- lic service announcements (PSA). This year’s themes include Constitutional checks and balances among the three branches of government and the First Amendment rights. Students can get creative in using skills in many content areas to develop their entries. See winning entries here. Put this on your opportunity on your instructional calendar for AY 2024-25!
CREATE and the Indiana Business Alliance for Civics – Career Readiness through Civic Education
The Indiana Business Alliance for Civics, a partner of CREATE, hosted a kick-off event on the impressive grounds of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site in downtown Indianapolis on Constitution Day, September 18th. Part of the recently formed Indiana Civics Coalition, IBAC works with business leaders and Chambers of Commerce to support “K–12 civic education, promote civic knowledge among the state’s workforce, and high- light the economic reasons for investing in civic education.” The 2021 Indiana Civic Health Index notes that Indiana ranks 48th out of 50 states in voter participation and documents findings in voting and voter registration, social and community connectedness, and civic awareness and action. Speakers at the kick-off included Nathan Gotsch of IBAC, Charles Dunlap of the Indiana Bar Foundation, Teresa Lubbers of the Sagamore Institute and former head of the Indiana Commission on Higher Education, and Brock Hesler, Vice President of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. All spoke of the importance of civics education in molding informed and engaged citizens as the foundation of a skilled and dedicated workforce that will attract and retain business investment. Hesler noted that the ICC’s latest strategic plan Vision 2025: a Plan for Hoosier Prosperity contains a goal to create an “Attractive Business Climate” through increased business involvement in civics engagement.
The upcoming Indiana Council for Social Studies (ICSS) Conference, taking place on November 10th, 2023, at Indiana State University. This year’s theme is “To Secure the Blessings of Liberty,” inspired by the preamble of the United States Constitution.
As we gather for our annual conference, we aim to explore the complex history, ideals, and challenges that have emerged in the quest to secure liberty for all. This theme invites us to reflect on the importance of civic education and to engage in meaningful discussions on the role that social studies educators play in fostering a strong, democratic society.
We encourage all social studies educators, researchers, and professionals to join us for this thought-provoking and inspiring event. In the coming weeks, we will provide more information regarding registration, the call for proposals, and the conference schedule.
III. Featured Resources
FOCUS on Classroom Resources
CREATE assists educators in finding civics-related lesson plans and activities in use in their classroom. The Resources for Educators tab on the CREATE website currently offer s lessons and activities for Elemen- tary, Middle, and High School teachers. More will be added as the site is developed. This issue’s featured teacher resource is CIVICS Fundamentals, developed by Judge Douglas Ginsburg.
Judge Ginsburg developed CIVICS Fundamentals, a free, online course that offer s 100 short videos explaining fundamental elements of U.S. democracy that are based on the 100 numbered questions from which examiners draw when administering the U.S. citizenship test to aspiring new citizens. All videos are hosted on YouTube, and each video lasts about two minutes. Viewers are quizzed on the question at the end of the video. Signing up for the course is free, and teachers can view a demo page. On the website, each question offers printable flashcards and a vocabulary page of words and definitions related to the topic. Indiana high school students are required to take the U.S. citizenship test in order to graduate. Video questions include:
• What Does the Constitution Do?
• What Is One Right Only for United States Citizens?
• Who Signs Bills to Become Laws?
• What Is One Responsibility That Is Only for United States Citizens?
• What Is One Promise You Make When You Become a United States Citizen?
Judge Ginsburg also is a frequent collaborator with educational filmmakers. In We Hold These Truths: the Global Quest for Liberty (55 min.), Judge Ginsburg explores the enduring influence of America’s Declaration of Independence, including on the abolitionist movement, women’s suffrage, and civil rights leaders Frederick Douglass and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Youth Civic Engagement Councils
CREATE is working with the Sagamore Institute to promote Youth Civic Engagement Councils in Muncie and throughout our State.
Following the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, an elder woman is said to have asked Dr. Benjamin Franklin: “Do we have a monarchy or a republic?” He famously answered: “A republic, if you can keep it.” A flourishing democracy is dependent upon a knowledgeable and engaged citizenry.
Problem: The state of our democracy is in peril, and the problem lies in a lack of civic knowledge and civic engagement.
Vision: Despite the grim data, the United States is seeing a bright spot in terms of youth civic engagement. From the 2014 midterm to the 2018 midterm, youth voter participation increased by 79%. Climate change, racial discrimination, and gun violence has sparked a particular wave of youth civic engagement, and it is necessary to turn this momentary interest into habituated interest. It is the youth who have the power to redirect the perilous course of US democracy. The Youth Civic Engagement Council will create a generation of bold, cooperative, positive young leaders inclined to address the challenging issues present in their schools and communities with creative and sustainable solutions.
Mission: To develop civically minded young people by giving them the direction, structure, responsibility, and mentoring necessary so that they become effective leaders in their schools and broader communities and increase civic awareness and engagement among their peers.
*If you are interested in developing a Youth Civic Engagement Council at your school, please email CREATE at CREATE@bsu.edu
FOCUS on Professional Development
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.
CREATE can support MCS teachers. If you have questions or to recommend additional PD events, please email CREATE@bsu.edu.
Join the CREATE Email List
To stay informed of the latest resources and opportunities, sign up for CREATE’s email list.
Click below or scan the QR code to visit the CREATE website .
CREATE Wants to Hear Your Questions and Ideas
Feel free to contact CREATE@bsu.edu with any questions or comments you have about participating.
CREATE is grateful for the support of the U.S. Department of Education