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Program in the Humanities

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

CEC News

Check out this month’s CEC News!

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January 2015 – Happy New Year!

FEATURED Resources: Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day

“This is not a black holiday; it is a people’s holiday,” said Coretta Scott King after President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law on Nov. 2, 1983. But in the complicated history of Martin Luther King, Jr Day, it has only recently been a holiday for all the people, all the time.

For a closer look at the interesting, and often contentious, history of Martin Luther King Jr. Day from Time, click here.

Middle School
Remembering Martin Luther King Jr

High School
African Americans and the Vietnam War
(This lesson highlights Dr. King’s rarely discussed views on the Vietnam War).

 News Updates

1. Run for the North Carolina Council for the Social Studies Board
In February 2015, members of the North Carolina Council for the Social Studies will elect three Executive Board members, a Treasurer and a President Elect to guide the work of NCCSS. This is a great way to enhance your leadership in the profession under standard IV of the NC Teacher Evaluation process. They need candidates who are extraordinary social studies educators, like yourself, to help lead this professional organization. The typical commitment is 4-5 Saturday morning meetings per year. Travel expenses are set at the state rate. Board Directors serve the Council in the decision making process as well as chairing standing and ad hoc committees for the Council. Service on the Executive Council is very rewarding, challenging, stimulating, and a lot of fun. Please indicate your interest by filling out the attached Google Form. You may only run for one position! They look forward to hearing from you!

Click HERE to access the registration form or email Mr. Matthew Love at to apply.

2. Registration is Now Open for the North Carolina Social Studies Conference
Conference Dates: February 12 – 13, 2015
Location: Koury Convention Center, Greensboro, NC

The 2015 North Carolina Council for the Social Studies Annual Conference will feature a series of workshop sessions on topics that reflect on this year’s theme, “the Civic Mission of Schools”, as well as developments in social studies education from around the state and nation.

For more information, visit the NCCSS site.  To register, click here.

3. NC may switch all high school students to 10-point grading scale in fall
By T. Keung Hui, Originally appeared in the News & Observer 

Amid lobbying from superintendents and families, state education leaders will consider allowing current high school students to take advantage of a new grading scale that will make it easier to get higher grades.

The decision would represent a reversal of the state’s decision to phase the system in during a period of several years.

The State Board of Education voted in October to begin the 10-point grading scale – in which scores between 90 and 100 earn an A – with the 2015-16 school year’s freshmen class.

But the State Board will discuss Wednesday whether to start it this fall for all high school students. Critics argued it was unfair to keep existing students on the seven-point scale – in which scores between 93 and 100 earn an A.

With many classes having students at multiple grade levels, opponents of phasing the change in cited the possibility that classmates with the same numerical score could get a different letter grade, which could also affect athletic eligibility.

“In deference to the superintendents and to parents and others who asked that we make the 10-point scale effective for all students in ’15-’16, we decided to put it back on the State Board of Education agenda for reconsideration,” State Schools Superintendent June Atkinson said Friday.

Jack Hoke, executive director of the N.C. School Superintendents Association, said all 90 superintendents who attended the group’s December conference supported switching all high school students to the 10-point scale this fall. There are 115 superintendents in the state.

“The superintendents felt that by implementing it over one year, it would be better for parents, teachers and students so that everyone would be on the same level,” he said.

It’s a decision that will affect the way grade-point averages, or GPAs, are calculated for transcripts and class rank. North Carolina is one of a few states where the state sets guidelines for high school grading scales and transcripts.

One of the reasons for dropping the seven-point scale is that it would level the playing field in college applications, parents and school districts said. North Carolina students could have found themselves at a disadvantage against college applicants who are graded on a 10-point scale.

Atkinson said there are advantages and disadvantages to making the change for all students in the same year. She noted that a student who gets a 90 in biology this school year, earning a B, would suffer in class rank compared with a student whose 90 in biology next year would merit an A.

But Atkinson said critics contended it would be more unfair to have students in the same class, but in different class years, earn different grades while making the same numerical score.

Because students must pass a majority of classes to be eligible for athletics, two students could have received the same numeric score, but one would pass and the other would fail. For instance, the phase-in, unless reversed, means freshmen this fall with a 60 would pass with a D while upperclassmen would need a 70 to avoid an F.

“In having discussions with the superintendents, they felt the advantages outweighed the disadvantages for changing to the 10-point scale for all students in ’15-’16,” she said.

Atkinson said the Department of Public Instruction would need the State Board to decide by February whether to use the 10-point scale for all high school students this fall. She said that will give enough time to update the state’s PowerSchool information system and to give notice to families.

Adam Geringer, 16, a junior at Broughton High School in Raleigh, helped initiate the adoption of the 10-point scale with his lobbying efforts to state and local leaders last year.

But Geringer said he has mixed feelings about applying the 10-point scale to students like himself who will graduate in 2016. Unless transcripts retroactively apply the new scale, he said, colleges may not realize that members of the Class of 2016 were on the seven-point scale through their junior year.

“This whole thing has gotten convoluted,” he said.

DPI is not asking the State Board to reconsider its decision to reduce the credit for taking Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and honors courses. That grading change will start only with freshmen this fall.

Current Opportunities

1. The Modern Origins of Contemporary Conflicts in the Middle East
March 20-21, 2015 – UNC-Chapel Hill

The phrase “Middle East” often conjures images of conflict.  Whether it’s recent events in Syria, Israel and Palestine, or Iraq, the sources these conflicts are usually attributed to some ancient animosity between religious or ethnic groups. In reality, the roots of these conflicts are actually quite modern. Join the CEC and the UNC Program in the Humanities as we explore the modern origins of turmoil in the Middle East. During this two-day event, teachers will have the chance to engage with UNC scholars, expanding their own content knowledge regarding the history of the Middle East, as well as explore interactive curriculum and strategies for translating this material to the K-12 classroom.

On day-one, teachers will get a chance to explore engaging, ready-to-implement, student-centered curriculum dealing with the modern origins of Middle East conflicts, including lessons on the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, the role of colonialism in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Middle East and the Cold War, and more.  Time will also be set aside so that teachers can share resources with one another.

In addition to curriculum trainings, teachers will have an opportunity bolster their content knowledge and get the chance to be a student again by attending lectures from three of UNC’s most esteemed faculty as they discuss the contemporary events in the Middle East within a broad context that goes back to World War I. Lecture topics include:

  • The Breakup of the Ottoman Empire and its Consequences and Decolonization and the Cold War: American and Soviet Interventions in the Middle East with Dr. Cemil Aydin
  • The Legacy of the British and French Mandates in Post-Colonial States with Dr. Sarah Shields
  • Between Modernism and Revivalism: Islamic Responses to Colonial Empires with Dr. Eren Tasar

For more information about the lecture portion of the program, visit


  • 1.2 Renewal Credits
  • Access to historical experts
  • Lunch & dinner on Friday; continental breakfast on Saturday; refreshments throughout both days
  • Single occupancy hotel accommodations Friday night for participants residing more than 90 round-trip miles from UNC-Chapel Hill.  Additionally, participants residing more than 375 round trip miles from UNC-Chapel Hill can request a Thursday evening as well.
  • Lesson plans and pedagogical training from the NC Civic Education Consortium
    • While lesson plans will be written with the social studies classroom in mind, language arts teachers are also welcome to attend, with the understanding that materials may need modification for use in the LA classroom.

To register for this workshop, click here.

2. Save the Date for The CEC’s Spring Conference Presentations
The CEC will be presenting at the following conferences this spring:

We hope to see you!

3. Registration is Now Open for the Spring 2015 Adventures in Ideas Seminar Series!
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 Friday evening and Saturday morning or 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 are:

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.

4. 2015 Law Week Contest
The North Carolina Bar Association Young Lawyers Division (NCBA YLD) Law Week Committee invites your school to participate in the annual student contests in honor of the 58th annual observation of Law Day. The NCBA YLD sponsors six separate student contests for students from elementary to high school. These contests can provide a wonderful opportunity to learn about our legal system, get creative, and win prizes for both students and your school. This program can be incorporated into a curriculum, offered for extra credit, or just done for fun. This year’s theme is “Magna Carta: Symbol of Freedom Under Law”.  Any students in grades 3 – 12 are encouraged to apply.

Please see the materials posted below for further information. Contact information is included in the materials below if you have questions about Law Day or any of these contests.

Law Week Student Contests – click links for more information
Grades 3-5: Poster
Grades 6-8: Photo Essay, Essay
Grades 9-12: Essay, Moot Court, Video Essay

Awards will be made in middle and high school categories. Student winners in each category will receive monetary awards.  The winning students schools receive a prize check (1st place $300, 2nd place $150, 3rd place $75).  Winners, their families, and teachers will also be invited to Raleigh to participate in the Law Day Awards Luncheon Ceremony, and will have an opportunity to meet state Supreme Court justices, appellate court judges, attorneys, North Carolina Bar Association leaders, and members of the North Carolina General Assembly.

5. Teaching About World War I with the Constitutional Rights Foundation
The Constitutional Rights Foundation is excited to announce their first free resource under this Gates grant: “A Fire Waiting To Be Lit: The Origins Of WWI.” In this resource you will find a balanced and well-researched text supplemented with maps, images, political cartoons, and primary source documents, as well as discussion and writing activities all tightly aligned to the Common Core.

Click here to view a short webcast on the lesson and to download the lesson and free resources!

6. Spencer Foundation Invites Proposals for Education Research Projects
Deadline: February 5, 2015

Established in 1962, the Spencer Foundation is dedicated to the belief that research is necessary to the improvement of education. To that end, the foundation supports high-quality investigations of education through its research programs and is dedicated to strengthening and renewing the educational research community through its fellowship and training programs and related activities.

Through its New Civics Small Grants Program, the foundation is accepting research proposals that ask critical questions about how education can more effectively contribute to the civic development of young people. Of special interest are improved understandings of the avenues for and impediments to civic learning and civic action among young people who do not attend college, who reside in marginalized communities, who are recent immigrants or immigrants of different legal statuses, or who are less economically privileged.

The program awards grants of up to $50,000, typically extending over periods of one to four years.

Eligible projects must have a principal investigator and co-PIs who have an earned doctorate in an academic discipline or professional field, or appropriate experience in an education research-related profession. In addition, the PI must be affiliated with a college, university, school district, nonprofit research facility, or nonprofit cultural institution that is willing to serve as the fiscal agent if the grant is awarded.

See the Spencer Foundation website for complete program guidelines, an FAQ and application instructions.

7. Collaborative Conference for Student Achievement “Champions Engaging North Carolina in 21st Century Teaching and Learning”
Date & Location: March 30 – April 1, 2015, Koury Convention Center, Greensboro, NC

The Collaborative Conference on Student Achievement reflects the Department of Public Instruction’s efforts to accommodate some of the economic challenges experienced by schools and communities by providing a multi-faceted professional development opportunity for educators and education stakeholders. This conference is designed to consolidate several conferences into one by merging the Accountability, Safe Schools, and Raising Achievement and Closing Gaps conferences. Watch their website for exciting updates on speakers and sessions!

For more information, visit

8. Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Summit
Dates: March 2 – 4, 2015
Location: San Francisco, CA

Back after a sold-out debut, the second Carnegie Foundation Summit on Improvement in Education promises to be even more exciting and informative than the last. Join the Carnegie Foundation as they expand upon the ideas of improvement science and find new ways to accelerate how the education field learns to improve.

Why a Summit on Improvement?
Our education institutions confront increasing pressure to educate all students towards much higher educational goals than ever before. This is driven by demands for a more engaged citizenry, for higher levels of knowledge and workforce skills, increased global educational and economic competition, and the need to prepare for the rapid societal changes brought about by technology.

These expectations exist in an environment of limited resources and the challenges of engaging more and diverse students. Absent a more responsive, agile approach to research and development, our educational achievements will never meet our aspirations. We need to accelerate how the education field learns to improve.

Who should attend the Summit?
Summit attendees will come from across all aspects of the education field, from kindergarten to higher ed, practitioners to policymakers, funders to researchers, and many others. Carnegie Foundation Summit for Improvement in Education participants are like other education conference attendees in wanting to learn new skills, develop a professional network, and share their experiences. But they are unique in that they are ready to be at the forefront of the educational improvement community — that together will transform problem-solving within education.

For more information and to register, visit the Carnegie Foundation Summit website.

9. NCTM Invites Proposals for PreK-8 Pre-Service Teacher Action Research Grant
Deadline: May 4, 2015

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is inviting proposals from pre-K teachers to support a collaborative action research project by university faculty, pre-service teachers, and classroom teachers seeking to improve their understanding of mathematics in preK-8 classrooms.

Primary emphasis will be placed on collaboration among a team of researchers consisting of university, elementary/middle school teachers, and pre-service teachers from the undergraduate ranks. Research should be designed, implemented, and completed with a focus on enhancing the teaching and/or learning of mathematics in grades preK-8.

A single grant of up to $3,000 will be awarded. Grant funds should be used to support project expenses to plan and carry out the research.

The applicant must be a current full individual or e-member of NCTM or must teach at a school with a current NCTM preK–8 school membership. The participating pre-service teacher(s) must be in an initial licensure/certification program at the undergraduate level and, at some point during the term of the grant, must be engaged in some form of practicum experience or student teaching.

For complete program guidelines and application instructions, see the NCTM website.

10. Science Spotlight – applications for free science literacy curriculum now open
The NC Science Festival has developed the Science Spotlight curriculum to get high school students talking about hot topics in science: nuclear energy and fracking. Students will also have the unique opportunity to continue the discussion with a Festival-paired expert in the field.

For 2015, this program will be available from September through April, and teachers can participate in both fall and spring semesters.

In addition to science teachers, economics and civics teachers are also encouraged to apply! The Festival has experts in law, land use policy and economics to speak with your students about these interdisciplinary topics.

 Get more info or apply online: • 919-962-3274

 About the Festival: The NC Science Festival is a multi-day celebration showcasing science and technology, April 10-26, 2015. The Festival highlights the educational, cultural and financial impact of science in our state. Through hands-on activities, science talks, lab tours, nature experiences, exhibits and performances, the Festival engages a wide range of public audiences while inspiring future generations.

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