PDE Social Studies

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April 2023 | Volume III, Number 4



News from the Rendell Center – A Meeting with Governor Shapiro

Pennsylvania has elected its 48th Governor – Josh Shapiro, and this is a chance for your class to share ideas with the new Governor.  Have your class work together to come up with the best question for the Governor on how he would improve your school and/or community. Brainstorm many ideas and have your class decide to submit its best question. Students are encouraged to be creative and original and then submit the question using this form.

A team from the Rendell Center for Civics and Civic Engagement will select 10 questions to present to the Governor during the Youth Town Hall. The Town Hall, hosted by the Rendell Center, is scheduled for April 18, 2023, at 9:30 am via Zoom. If your question is selected, your class will be invited to virtually present the question to the Governor in this unique virtual experience. The Youth Town Hall will be live-streamed across the Commonwealth. Tune in on April 18 at 9:30 am to hear the Governor’s response to the student’s questions.


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. Click here to learn more about how you and your students can get involved.

Preparing for Financial Literacy Month

April is Financial Literacy Month! The Bill of Rights Institute Building Blocks of Progress curriculum showcases the role economic principles, as well as people and government, play in a free society. The curriculum features six parts that focus on prosperity through a variety of lenses, including choices and consequencesthe economy, and the role of constitutional government. This resource is available to you and your students from BRI in partnership with the Hoover Institution.

Learn to spot quotes taken out of context

Quotes taken out of context can completely change the meaning of what someone says. This tactic is commonly used to spread misinformation with potentially serious consequences, such as provoking violence or providing fake evidence to spread conspiracy theories.

In this lesson from PBS Newshour Classroom, students will learn how quotes have been manipulated to spread conspiracies about the 9/11 attacks in 2001 and read upstream to get at the truth behind a quote that’s been taken out of context.  Learn more here.

SAS PD Center

Learn more about PBS Learning Media by taking the 5-hour Act 48 Course Using PBS LearningMedia in the Classroom, found in the “My Tools/PD Center” of PDESAS.org.

SAS PD Center: Explore Professional Learning Opportunities

The SAS PD Center has several new offerings to support your professional growth.  Courses are self-paced, are no cost, and provide Act 48 hours. Some sample course titles:

  • Using PBS Learning Media in the Classroom
  • Introduction to Structured Literacy
  • Addressing Implicit and Explicit Bias in the Classroom
  • Comprehensive Mental Health for Teachers
  • Pathways to Graduation: Guiding Students in Decision Making
  • Self-Awareness and Reflective Practices for Equitable Classrooms
  • Trauma-Informed Programs

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE)  General Annual Calendar

The Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) staff has created an online calendar to assist Local Education Agencies (LEAs) in identifying the general timing of annual conferences, training opportunities, activities, report due dates, and grant due dates.

The information included in the OESE calendar should not be considered an exhaustive list of all important dates or deadlines, and any omission or error is inadvertent. Additions, suggestions, and corrections can be submitted for consideration to: [email protected].

Political Cartooning Youth Media Challenge

Incorporating art projects in history, English, and social science classrooms helps students practice communication and exercise their civic voice. The Political Cartooning Youth Media Challenge is a low-lift media project for busy teachers and a high-impact project for students to express their creativity.

KQED's free Political Cartooning Classroom Curriculum guides students through analysis, topic selection, and cartoon creation to develop a unique piece of editorial artwork that reflects students’ views on a topic important to them. This project is perfect for middle and high school students in English, social studies, journalism, and art classes.

Your students can then publish their editorial cartoons to KQED’s Youth Media Challenge Showcase, which gives students an authentic public media audience beyond their classroom. Select submissions are also shared on KQED’s digital channels (including posts like this!) and with PBS and NPR member stations around the country. Check it out today!

What Does it Mean to Hit the Debt Ceiling?

The debt ceiling, or debt limit, is a Congressionally established cap on the total amount of money that the federal government is authorized to borrow to meet its financial obligations. Recently, the U.S. national debt surpassed the $31.4 trillion dollar debt ceiling.

  • iCivics has resources to help you teach about the federal budget, government spending, and this current event.
  • Game: People’s Pie Give your students the opportunity to set the federal budget, analyze federal tax and spending policies, and manage public approval. Students make hard decisions to fund projects, pay debts, and reach a balanced budget (or even surplus!).
  • Lesson Plan: Government Spending This lesson tackles a variety of topics related to government spending, including the federal budget, mandatory versus discretionary spending, and government debt. Students learn the difference between a surplus and a deficit, the basics of federal budgeting, and the method the government uses to borrow money.

Planning for Summer PD

The Council for State Social Studies Supervisors has compiled a list of the wealth of professional development opportunities available to social studies educators in the summer of 2023. Many of the opportunities are offered for free or at a low cost. Please email Stefanie Wager at [email protected] with any questions, comments, or additions to the list.

National Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center brings together people of all ages and perspectives across America and around the world to learn about, debate, and celebrate the greatest vision of human freedom in history, the U.S. Constitution.  Check out their offerings here.

Making Cents Spring and Summer Professional Development Opportunities

Free professional development programs from the Making Cents PA Project are back! Join Making Cents for one or more of their popular webinars or book studies or their all-new, 3-week virtual resource exchange workshop. Each program offers Act 48 hours and is provided at no charge to participants through this cooperative effort of the Pennsylvania Department of Education and Penn State.

Advanced registration is required for all programs. To make it easier for their "frequent flyers," they are offering a one-stop registration form for all of their programs.  Check out the attached flyer for more information.

Army Heritage Center Foundation Professional Development Opportunity

Black Hawk Down And The Mission To Feed Somalia - A Workshop For Teachers

May 12, 2023
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center
950 Soldiers Drive
Carlisle, PA 17013


This Act 48 workshop for teachers will examine how what began as a humanitarian mission turned into a manhunt for a warlord that ended in a U.S. retreat. Drawing on primary sources and official reports, teachers will explore the challenges of mission creep, asymmetrical warfare, and the limits of military power.

Teachers can choose between attending in person or via Zoom.  CLICK HERE to register.

Pennsylvania Association of Student Councils Scholarship Opportunities

Click here to view a list of student scholarship opportunities available for your students.


AllSides™ is a media solutions company that strengthens our democratic society with balanced news, media bias ratings, diverse perspectives, and real conversation.  Click here to learn more.

Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge

Click here for information regarding their summer professional development, seminars, workshops, and scholarship opportunities.

Supreme Court Resources

The Oyez Project at Northwestern University allows you to listen to the Supreme Court justices as they deliberate cases, providing a complete source of all audio recorded since the installation of a recording system in the Court in 1955.

The Supreme Court Historical Society has a voluminous history of every court, including a timeline of justices with information about each one. There are sections on the current Court and previous “Homes of the Court,” plus quizzes and videos.

National Geographic Xpeditions

Click here to check out hundreds of educator-created lesson plans written by educators that complement the site’s interactive maps and tools.

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