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Program in the Humanities

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Check out this month’s CEC News!

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August 2015 – Happy Back-to-School

FEATURED Resources: From Chaos to Community: Your classroom CAN be a fun, safe, and effective environment for both you and your students!

It’s that time of year, when as a teacher, you admittedly get a little bit of the “back to school blues” (so much for sleeping past 6:00 AM and eating lunch in more than 15 minutes), mixed with nervous excitement and anticipation of the 25 (or 30…or 40…) students who will be staring at you in a few days.

To ensure you have a great year, use the Consortium’s activities for building a self-managing, respectful and tolerant community in your classroom, where students not only enjoy learning, but where high performance is guaranteed.

Preparation – “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Preparation involves the physical space of the classroom, all of the items held within the classroom, the structures and procedures you will use to organize your classroom, the curriculum you will teach, and yourself. The more you can consider and plan before school begins, the better off you will be. According to Harry and Rosemary Wong, “Studies have shown that effective teachers had the classroom ready.  They prevented problems by implementing a plan at the beginning of the school year.  This plan:

  • Used time as effectively as possible
  • Implemented group strategies with high levels of involvement and low levels of misbehavior
  • Chose lesson formats and academic tasks conducive to high student involvement
  • Communicated clear procedures of participation

Because effective teachers had the classroom ready, they were able to prevent many misbehaviors from occurring. [They subsequently incur] far less stress in having to deal with behavior problems and are able to leave each day feeling happy, accomplished, and proud.” (First Days of School, Harry Wong & Rosemary Wong)

Don’t worry if you don’t have every bulletin board covered with bright covered paper. That’s not really the point. The point is to get organized and ready for those young folks heading your way, because if they smell disorganization, they’ll eat you up.  Check out the Consortium’s Preparing the Classroom Community for its Citizens for a check list that will help you think about important classroom considerations.

Establish and Teach Procedures

Consider all of the things students will do in class and in school.  To ensure order and productivity, let students know the procedure beforehand by explaining it, modeling, rehearsing, and reinforcing the procedure.  Never assume students already know how to do something. If you hear yourself saying something like, “Oh, PUH-LEESE…these are 8th graders. They certainly know how to line up quietly in the hall and walk orderly to lunch,” smack yourself on the hand. Assume they don’t know anything until you teach them.

From the first moment your students arrive outside your door, you should be establishing and teaching procedures. Any gap where you don’t teach students what to do is a gap they will fill by doing whatever they think they should do, or whatever they want to do. It’s likely this won’t match up with your expectations, so teach them.

Teaching some procedures will be simple and quick; others will take more time and require detail, but don’t make anything more complicated than it needs to be.  Keep in mind that while all procedures need to be taught, not all procedures need to be taught at very beginning of school. Just ensure students are taught the procedure before being required to participate in it.  (For example, if you head to the computer lab for the first time during the second month of school, make sure to teach them the expected procedures a few days before heading to the lab.)  Most importantly, when teaching procedures, do so in a professional way, letting students know they are developing the mature qualities of serious students.  If you resort to teaching procedures as a “drill sergeant,” students will feel belittled and grow resentful.

Some serious advice: Whatever you do, don’t use the first 15 minutes you ever spend with your new class taking attendance or passing out textbooks. The most important day of school is that very first day, in particular, those very first minutes. You want to use this time to make a great first impression and set the expectation that your classroom is equally a place of work and respect. Somehow, calling out “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?” while kids wiggle around in their desks from boredom doesn’t really convey all that.

For specific activities on teaching procedures, check out the following resources:

Overview – Establishing and Teaching Procedures

Teaching Group Work Expectations with “Tear It Up!”

Students will discuss the attributes of successful group work and be introduced to classroom expectations and procedures for working in groups. Students will observe both positive and negative examples of students working in groups and reflect upon what they witnessed. Students will then begin to practice group work procedures and expectations by participating in a non-verbal, cooperative learning activity. Finally, students will reflect on what they learned, what they did well with in regards to working in groups, and what they can improve upon for next time.

Teaching Discussion Expectations

To ensure successful and respectful student discussions, it is important that students are first taught procedures for appropriately conversing. In this activity, students will explore, develop, and practice effective ways to hold small group and class discussions.

Establish Clear Expectations for Classroom Behavior Inclusive of Student Input

In order to create a safe and effective classroom community, firm expectations must be established starting on the very first day of school that are followed and reinforced each day. As David Schimmel notes in Collaborative Rule-Making and Citizenship Education, “Collaborative rule-making promotes mutual respect, cooperation, self-discipline and personal responsibility while also providing the structure and security students need.” Lay the foundation of positive expectations, soliciting student input and providing time to teach, model, practice, and reflect on these expectations.

Providing time for this during the first day and weeks of school is a deal breaker…a complete and total non-negotiable. But, don’t freak out. Investing ample time during the first days of school to do this, even if it means not starting your official curriculum for a few class periods, will pay off throughout the year. (It will really will. We promise.) You will earn MORE time for teaching since you won’t be stopping and starting lessons a few months into school to address behavior problems. Since you spent the time to lay the appropriate foundation of what is acceptable in your classroom community early on, students will hold themselves and each other accountable, providing you with more time to teach, not to mention, less headaches.

Here are some specific activities to get you started establishing and practicing expectations in your classroom:

The Ideal Classroom Community Member: Establishing Expectations for Classroom Behavior

In order to create a safe and effective classroom community, firm expectations must be established that are followed and reinforced each day. In this activity, the foundation for a respectful classroom community will be set as students are introduced to predetermined classroom expectations and are given the opportunity to explore and add to them. Through the creation of an “ideal classroom community member” brainstorm, students will feel more responsibility to follow expectations they themselves have shared in detailing. The process of establishing expectations for classroom behavior must begin on the first day of school, with revisiting and reflection of such throughout the first weeks of school and beyond.

Respect or Disrespect?

In this activity, students will continue to explore and add to the classroom expectations, gaining the understanding that part of being a responsible member of a community is being respectful and handling conflicts in an appropriate way.  Through role-plays and discussion, students will examine specific behaviors and choices as they relate to respect in school and develop an understanding of how each individual’s actions determine the climate of a classroom.

Maintain a Positive Classroom Environment

Every thought is a seed. If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious. ~Bill Meyer

As you work to lay the foundation of and build upon a classroom community, infusing positivity into the classroom atmosphere can increase each student’s sense of belonging, as well as motivate them to follow community expectations and work to excel at the academic tasks at hand. Here are a few simple ways to easily ensure your classroom is a place where students enjoy learning:

Say “Hey” Your Way!

When a child walks in the room, your child or anybody elses child, do your eyes light up?

Thats what theyre looking for.~Toni Morrison

Middle school students enter our classrooms with a wide range of backgrounds, needs, and feelings. Ultimately, each of them strives to be recognized for who they are. By greeting each individual student at the door each day as they enter class, teachers demonstrate a respectful, professional, and welcoming nature that adds to the foundation of a classroom community.

Positively Positive

Check out these quick and easy strategies for infusing a bit of “happy” into your classroom.

Managing the Middle School Classroom – When annoyed, count to 10 before you speak; If very annoyed, count to 100. Thomas Jefferson

Even when you’ve thought of everything, there are still going to be days when potentially disruptive situations occur in your classroom. The ways in which we respond to a disruptive behavior often determines whether the situation escalates or not. Teachers should be aware of the fine balancing act required when dealing with a student who is off-task. You never want to let a student stop instruction or disrupt the productivity of the entire class, but you also don’t want to let an off-task behavior go unaddressed – particularly in the beginning of the school year. Read about various techniques for diffusing disruptive behavior or situations here:

***For additional activities, go to the Consortium’s Database of K-12 Resources at Enter the “Activities” section of the database and click on “Classroom Management/Setting Expectations.” You can also access activities for building character, addressing bullying, increasing tolerance, etc. by searching “Character Education & Conflict Resolution.”

All in all, while you are looking out for your students, we at the Consortium are looking out for you. And that is the spirit in which these activities were designed. If implemented in an effective way, they can make your life as a teacher less stressful, more productive, and (dare we say) easier.  Feel free to contact Christie Norris at with questions about these activities and strategies, or if you need assistance addressing a particular issue in your classroom. And may the 2015-2016 school year be your very best yet!

Current Opportunities

1. Banned Books in the Classroom: Teaching the Freedom to Read
Date & Location:September 12, 2015; Chapel Hill Public Library

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Bradbury

Imagine going to your school media center or the public library in search of incredible classics like “Where the Wild Things Are,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” or “The Bluest Eye,” only to discover that the book is no longer available due to objections posed by a person or group. While we may assume this is a thing of the past, the challenging and banning of books still happens in the United States more often than you might realize.

Middle and high school educators are invited to join the Chapel Hill Public Library and the UNC Civic Education Consortium for an engaging day exploring past and present issues related to the freedom to read, censorship, intellectual freedom, freedom of speech, and more, while exploring how to integrate these crucial topics and themes into the classroom. Educators will be provided the opportunity to engage as lifelong learners as they expand their content knowledge in discussions and presentations from legal and university scholars. Time will also be provided to explore how to use various interactive strategies to engage middle and high school students in various activities related to the freedom to read, as well as participate in parts of ready-to-implement lesson plans utilizing interactive simulations, art, role plays, and other creative critical thinking strategies. We will also discuss ideas for celebrating Banned Books Week (September 27 – October 3, 2015), the annual celebration of the freedom to read which started in 1982, the same year the Supreme Court ruled that students’ First Amendment rights were violated when Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five” and eight other books were removed from school libraries. Despite the legal precedent, schools and libraries still receive formal challenges to remove books from library shelves and reading lists today.

In addition to access to lessons and activities, each attendee will also receive a set of the Chapel Hill Public Library’s Banned Books Trading Cards, a set of cards based on art designed by local artists and inspired by books that have been censored or banned, as well as activities for utilizing these cards as a teaching tool. Prizes related to banned books will also be given away and a catered lunch will be provided. Educators will receive .5 CEUs for participation in this event.

Join us as we explore and discover new and innovative ways of approaching, planning for, and utilizing banned books as a way to engage students in critical thinking and interactive learning, ultimately making crucial connections to modern day events and issues. Teachers, librarians, after school providers and other educators interested in covering these themes and topics with youth don’t want to miss this exciting FREE event!

This event is funded by the Freedom to Read Foundation’s Judith F. Krug Memorial Fund ( The Freedom to Read Foundation (FTRF) is a non-profit legal and educational organization affiliated with the American Library Association.  FTRF protects and defends the First Amendment to the Constitution and supports the right of libraries to collect – and individuals to access – information.

To register for this event, complete the registration form here.

Download the workshop agenda here.

If you have any questions, email Paul Bonnici at

2. Let the Sunshine In: Exploring Government Transparency
Date & Location: Friday, October 2; 10 AM – 4:30 PM; Chapel Hill Public Library – Meeting Room B

The majority of people believe that having an open, transparent government is crucial to a thriving democracy, yet most people are unaware of the laws that encourage such transparency. Middle and high school teachers are invited to join the NC Open Government Coalition and the NC Civic Education Consortium to gain a deeper understanding of North Carolina’s Sunshine Laws and the federal Freedom of Information Act. Throughout this engaging day-long program, we will explore how these laws grant citizens the right of access to public meetings and public records, various related controversies concerning the First Amendment, and how to make this information relevant and engaging for your middle and high school students.  Attendees will be provided the opportunity to expand their content knowledge in discussions and presentations from expert scholars, government officials, and journalists regarding local, state and national issues and perspectives related to government transparency, including current events that stimulate awareness and an understanding of the impact of these issues on our everyday lives. We will explore critical questions such as:

  • How should our democracy balance national security with First Amendment rights?
  • Has the federal government met President Obama’s promise to “usher in an era of open government?”
  • What happens to requests for documents from local, state & federal agencies under Sunshine Laws?
  • Should police be required to use body cameras and should the public should have access to images from these cameras?
  • Should governments be able to hold closed meetings under any circumstances?
  • When should records of closed government meetings become public?

In order assist teachers in translating this material back in their middle and high school classrooms, the agenda will also include interactive pedagogical sessions that complement the scholarly discussions and content presented. Teachers will explore skills, strategies and ready-to-implement lesson plans for conveying these complex themes in creative, engaging and interactive ways. Educators teaching civics, government, history, and law in the middle and/or high school classroom do not want to miss this exciting FREE event!

Attending teachers will receive:

  • 1.0 CEUs/renewal credits
  • Lunch & snacks
  • Lesson plans, teaching ideas, and pedagogical training
  • Substitute reimbursement can be requested if your school system is unable to cover the cost. To request a substitute scholarship, please submit a letter signed by your principal explaining the need for substitute reimbursement; the letter should accompany the professional development registration form.
  • Single occupancy hotel accommodations can be requested for Thursday night for participants residing more than 300 round-trip miles from the Chapel Hill Public Library. If you do not meet the mileage requirements but have special circumstances for which you would like to request a room, you can inquire by contacting Paul Bonnici at

To register for this event, complete the registration form here.

If you have any questions, email Paul Bonnici at

 Funding for this event if provided by the North Carolina Open Government Coalition.

3. FREE Lesson Plans and Fall Professional Learning Webinars from the Constitutional Rights Foundation
The NC Civic Education Consortium’s friends at the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) are offering incredible lesson plans and webinars to help teachers implement state (Essential Standards) and national (Common Core) standards. Check out CRF’s resources at Whether you are teaching middle school Social Studies, Civics & Economics, US History I & II, APUS, AP World, or otherwise, there is something for everyone! Click on the links below to register for their webinars.

And what about the chance to win $100? Every time you use or review one of CRF’s Common Core resources (i.e., a lesson plan or webinar) and complete their survey on the resource, you will be entered into a quarterly drawing for a $100 gift card! The survey is very simple and won’t take more than 5-10 minutes. (NOTE: While the survey refers to Common Core, North Carolina teachers will answer each question in terms of NC’s Essential Standards.)

Contact Christie Norris at with any questions and Happy Teaching!

FREE Fall Professional Learning Webinars offered by CRF
 a) Get Ready for Constitution Day by Teaching the Bill of Rights with a Visitor from Outer Space!
Earth has been invaded. Your rights will be limited to just a few. What will they be? In this interactive free webinar and Common Core-aligned lesson, learn how to use entertaining technology to teach about fundamental rights while strengthening students’ speaking, listening, and collaborative skills. Teachers at all grade levels can get students excited about knowing and explaining their rights.
When: Wednesday, September 9, 2015 from 3:30 to 4:30 (PT)
Where: Online (Register at
b) Civic Action Project: Project-Based Learning Gets Students Ready for Their Future
Do you want your students to be prepared for life beyond high school? Join CRF to explore how project-based, Common Core-aligned learning in civics and government gets students motivated to actively engage with policymakers and communities while learning the skills to prepare them for college and careers.  Participants receive free online Civic Action Project (CAP) materials, and the first 50 to register and participate receive a free $10.00 Starbucks gift card.
When: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 from 3:30 to 4:30 PM (PT)
Where: Online (Register at
c) Using Supreme Court Cases to Teach Common Core Standards with Special Guest Erwin Chemerinsky
Join Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the School of Law at UC Irvine, and CRF staff in a preview of the U.S. Supreme Court’s year and learn how to use Supreme Court cases to infuse rigor into the teaching of reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills for high school students. In this free webinar, you will learn how to use a crucial case on affirmative action as a case study for instruction.
When: Wednesday, September 30, 2015 from 3:30 to 4:30 (PT)
Where: Online (Register at
d) If Men Were Angels: Teaching the Constitution with the Federalist Papers
The Constitution was signed in 1787, and everyone was happy, right? Not exactly. Who supported the Constitution? Who didn’t? And why? This webinar will show you how your students can engage in discussion, presentation, role play, and an exciting debate that will bring the ideas of The Federalist Papers…and the Constitution…alive.
When: Thursday, October 8th, 2015 from 3:30 to 4:30 (PT)
Where: Online (Register at
e) New State Standards do Not Have to Be a Great Wall: Fun Ways to Teach About China
This webinar will explore four Common Core-aligned lessons for middle school that provide interactive ways to teach early Chinese history, writing, religion, law, and economics. Ever play “Oregon Trail”? We’ll highlight our similar “Silk Road” simulated journey with attendees. By the way, the first 20 registrants who attend the webinar get a stipend.
When: Thursday, October 15th, 2015 from 3:30 to 4:30 (PT)
Where: Online (Register at
f) Civic Engagement + Writing = Uncommonly Good Idea!
Lucky CRF! Our Civic Action Project (CAP) was profiled in a new book, Uncommonly Good Ideas, published by National Writing Project. Join the authors of the book and the CAP teacher who was profiled to explore what happens when students are writing about and discussing issues they care about.
Oh…and the first 25 teachers to register and attend the webinar will get a free copy of Uncommonly Good Ideas!
When: Tuesday, October 20th, 2015 from 3:30 – 4:30 (PT)
Where: Online (Register at
***If you are a North Carolina teacher who would like to receive CEUs for your participation in the webinars below, the NC Civic Education Consortium can issue your credit. Contact Christie Norris at for more information regarding how to receive a CEU form.

4. Attend an Adventures in Ideas Fall Seminar for a Discount & Receive CEU Credit
Register now to secure a spot in a general seminar offered by the Program in the Humanities. K-12 Teachers receive a 50% discount off tuition and a $75 travel stipend as a part of the Daisy Edmister Fund. Seminars are all-day Saturday. Receive credit for 10 contact hours of continuing education. While these programs are designed for a general audience and do not include pedagogical training or lesson plans (unlike the Consortium’s teacher trainings, which include a combination of pedagogy, curriculum exploration and scholar lectures), these seminars are still an excellent way for teachers to expand their content knowledge in various topics.

Topics and Dates:

For more information about these opportunities and to register, visit or call 919-962-1544 or email  Register today to secure a seat!

Please note: Teachers are eligible for only one $75 stipend per semester.

5. Save these dates for a year full of professional development from World View!
Our friends at World View have a great slate of professional development opportunities for teachers this fall and winter. Mark your calendars so you don’t miss any of these great events.

6. The Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies has a new film database.
The Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies has generated a list of films suggested for classroom use by Duke and UNC Faculty. Film postings include related NCSOS Essential Standards, when applicable. Please search by tags or filter with categories at Categories include Free Online Streaming, History, United States, Religion and more! Most of the films are appropriate for grades 6-12. If you have any questions about appropriate age-level, feedback on how to make this more user friendly, or have suggestions to add, please email

In addition, the they are pleased to offer small ‘Classroom Film Grants.’ If you are interested purchasing one of the films from our database for your classroom, please fill out a short application. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year; there is no deadline. More information and the application can be found on their website.

7. Understanding Sacrifice: World War II in the Mediterranean
Deadline: September 4, 2015

National History Day announces an exciting partnership with the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (CHNM) and the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC). This partnership will allow 18 middle and high school teachers across disciplines to study the experiences of America’s World War II soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coastguardsmen as they advanced across North Africa and Southern Europe. The program will allow teachers to study this phase of World War II, engage in scholarly readings and discussions with experts and peers, and develop multimedia, multi-disciplinary lesson plans to help teachers and students around the world understand the service and sacrifice of America’s armed forces.

In July 2016, teachers will follow the path of the armed forces in Italy and Southern France. While the campaign in North Africa will be part of the academic study, this will not be included in the travel. Teachers will visit five ABMC cemeteries to honor individuals from their home states who sacrificed their lives in the war.

Established by Congress in 1923, the ABMC commemorates the service, achievements, and sacrifice of U.S. armed forces. ABMC administers 25 overseas military cemeteries, and 26 memorials, monuments, and markers. For more information visit or connect with the ABMC on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram.

For more information, including the application, visit the World War II in the Mediterranean site. 

8. Interested in Service-Learning? Attend the NC Service-Learning Coalition Summit this October.
Date: October 9, 2015
Location: Guilford County Schools’ Laughlin Professional Development Center, Summerfield, NC

The North Carolina Service-Learning Coalition is pleased to announce that registration for their 2015 North Carolina Service-Learning Summit is now OPEN!

The NCSLC is excited to head to Summerfield to host service-learning supporters and experts at the Guilford County Schools’ Laughlin Professional Development Center as they share practices and valuable trainings surrounding how to start or enhance your students’ experiences in an all-day conference open to teachers, students, nonprofit partners, community groups, and service-learning rookies and experts.

The theme of this year’s summit is “Impacting Our Community”.  There will be a variety of workshops, focusing on one of three tracks:

Service-Learning in Action
These workshops are aimed at those looking to understand the basic foundation of service-learning and how the practice of service-learning can impact all communities. These sessions are intended to help others elevate their practices and align service-learning with effective teaching and youth development practices in academic areas.

Service-Learning Best Practices
These workshops share examples of service-learning programs that coordinate organizations with a focus in service-learning experiences. These sessions are focused on the implementation of sustainable practices and programs that connect community organizations with youth and young adults.

Service-Learning Advanced Practices
These workshops are aimed at participants who have extensive service-learning experience and engage them to dig deeper into foundational understandings and practices of high quality service-learning through systemic and sustainable practices.

Take the opportunity to meet and network with fellow service-learning enthusiasts and practitioners from all across North Carolina.




To register for the Summit, visit the Eventbrite page.

Want to present or or have a showcase display at the Summit? Visit the RFP page.

Want to help make a difference? Sponsor, exhibit, or advertise at the Summit! More information is available via the online form or hard copy.

Summit registration fees cover the cost of the summit including lunch. Need based scholarships may be provided upon request. Please send requests to with subject “Scholarship Request.”

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