PDE Social Studies

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January 2022 | Volume III, Number 1



Act 35 Update

Act 35 reporting opened in the Future Ready Comprehensive Planning Portal (FRCPP) for the 2021-2022 school year on September 14, 2022, with a reporting deadline of December 1, 2022. If you have not yet submitted your report, please do so at your earliest convenience in order to meet legislative requirements.
The Assessment of Civics Knowledge Toolkit details the legislative requirements and the reporting responsibilities.
If you are experiencing issues where you are unable to submit after entering in your data, please check that you have the proper “submit” role in the ADMIN area of FRCPP. If the Act 35 Civic Knowledge survey isn’t appearing when you log in, it is because it needs to be added by a local admin user in your LEA. The FRCPP information page may assist as you encounter submission issues.

Meet Ryan D. Hardesty: Pennsylvania’s 2023 Teacher of the Year!

PDE congratulates Ryan D. Hardesty, Pennsylvania’s 2023 Teacher of the Year. A seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher at Highland Middle School in the Blackhawk School District, Ryan describes his guiding philosophy: “The goal of education is to meet the specific needs of the diverse set of learners that come into our classrooms. To do so, we should plan engaging and rigorous work that pushes students to reach their full potential.”


The Pennsylvania Commission for the United States Semiquincentennial (America250PA) was established by the legislature and Governor in 2018 to plan, encourage, develop and coordinate the commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States, Pennsylvania’s integral role in that event, and the impact of its people on the nation’s past, present, and future.
America250PA hopes to engage all citizens of the Commonwealth, from all 67 counties, bring the Commonwealth’s history into the conversation so Pennsylvanians can better understand the origins and multiple perspectives of issues facing our Commonwealth & nation today; use history to encourage and inspire future leaders; celebrate the contributions of Pennsylvanians to our Commonwealth’s history but also to our Nation’s history; leave a lasting impact on the next generation; and to spark an interest in which will ignite the drive for them to appreciate all the triumphs, trials and tribulations to which contributed to the Commonwealth for which they are now writing their own history.
Learn more about it and how you can get involved here.

NCSS 2022 Conference Resources

Click here to access the Wakelet that was contributed to during the NCSS Conference.

Wakelet allows users to collaboratively share Google docs, files, images, etc., so many people uploaded their conference presentations to this resource.

More in Common - Defusing the History Wars

This study explores polarization in the national conversation over how U.S. history should be taught to future generations.

  • Check out the Defusing the History Wars website here.
  • Read the Defusing the History Wars Report here.
  • Do you have a perception gap? Take the quiz here.

The White House History Teacher Institute

The White House History Teacher Institute is a weeklong professional development program that explores American history through the lens of the White House and fosters collaboration among teachers to bring stories in White House history into their own classrooms. K-12 teachers from many subjects including history, government, civics, social studies, language arts, and fine arts are welcome to apply. In Summer 2023, they will host two iterations of the Institute—one from July 10-14 and another from July 17-21. Participating teachers receive free, shared housing at a local hotel, a participation stipend, and reimbursement of some travel expenses.  Learn more and apply here.

This is Civics

This new video provides glimpses of civic learning happening in real classrooms. You can use “This Is Civics” to share the importance of high-quality, nonpartisan civic education that engages a variety of viewpoints in helping to prepare young people to be informed and engaged participants in our self-governing society. This video is brought to you by the Common Good Collaborative of national civic education organizations: the Center for Civic Education, Bill of Rights Institute, Facing History and Ourselves, Generation Citizen, iCivics, Mikva Challenge, and the National Constitution Center.

Teaching Students to Evaluate Online Information through Current Events

James Madison Legacy Project Expansion Teacher Publishes Media Literacy Education Paper

In the latest issue of Social Education, James Madison Legacy Project Expansion (JMLPE) teacher Lauren Merroth coauthored a paper titled “Teaching Students to Evaluate Online Information through Current Events.” The article outlines strategies to teach students how to evaluate digital content and detect disinformation. These tips are helpful for civic educators and beyond to implement in their media literacy lessons.  Read it here.

National History Day in Pennsylvania 2023

The 2023 National History Day in Pennsylvania State Contest will take place on April 22 and 23 at the University of Scranton. Student registration will open in March 2023. e for information about regional contests.

From The Rendell Center – NEH Summer Teacher Institute

During this one-week intensive Institute for K-12 teachers, approximately 30 participants from across the U.S. will gather in Philadelphia for a vigorous program of lectures and discussions of constitutional law and Supreme Court case history pertaining to the First Amendment.

The Institute will be held at the National Constitution Center, where attendees can take advantage of the rich resources offered by the only museum devoted to the U.S. Constitution. Participants can explore the many powerful exhibits, have lively discussions with museum educators, and discover ways to incorporate the web-based, Interactive Constitution into their classrooms. To learn more about the program click here.

  • Date: July 23-29, 2023
  • Location: Philadelphia – The National Constitution Center
  • Deadline: Apply by March 3, 2023
  • Stipend: $1,300

From The Bill of Rights Institute

U.S. History Teachers A 16 unit, comprehensive Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness resource includes contributions from over 100 scholars and classroom-ready student activities.

Government and Civics Teachers A primary-source-based Documents of Freedom curriculum. It contains dozens of lessons that integrate history, government, and economics topics.

Elective Topics The institute also offers 20+ other resources ready to use in elective courses, including resources for African American studies, immigration studies, and dedicated resources on each branch of government. Find them here.

Think the Vote This online debate platform poses a bi-weekly question that encourages students to think critically about the things going on around them. Prizes are awarded based on the quality of responses.

My Impact Challenge is a civic engagement contest. It seeks to foster a robust understanding of citizenship and get students active in their communities. Student service projects can win up to $10,000, with $40,000 in total prizes available to students and teachers. Check it out now!

Smithsonian Learning Lab

With 53 lessons, the Smithsonian Learning Lab offers students the opportunity to learn through objects and inquiry.  Explore topics from medieval West Africa to documents in the Early Republic.  Click here to learn more.

The Best Geography Games

Looking to add more games into the classroom?  Wondering how to get students interested in geography? This is the resource for you.  This list of 11 geography games will help liven up your classroom and can even be backup activities for students.


EDSITEment offers a treasure trove for teachers, students, and parents searching for high-quality material on the Internet in the subject areas of literature and language arts, foreign languages, art and culture, and history and social studies, including lesson plans, media resources, and teachers’ guides.  Check it out.

Check out the state-wide electronic resources from the State Library here!

Thank you for subscribing to the SAS Social Studies PLC and for all you do every day for the students in Pennsylvania!

Don McCrone
[email protected]

Visit the PDE Social Studies Archive