By Sarah Hurd & Natalie Schaefer
In 2004, Congress passed a law designating September 17th as Constitution Day. According to the statute, the purpose of the day is to help our students gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the United States Constitution. Schools may choose from a variety of options for meeting the requirements of the statute. Programs may range from school-wide observances such as assemblies, announcements, bulletin boards or other visuals to support direct instruction, and/or interdisciplinary projects to a classroom-based study related to the Constitution. The Constitution Day program is meant as a one-day special focus on the Constitution and not as a unit of study.
The Senate Historical Office says it well, “More than two centuries after its ratification, the United States Constitution remains a fundamental document. Strengthened by amendments, it continues to guide our public officials and the people they serve. It has endured through civil war, economic depressions, assassinations, and even terrorist attacks, and remains a source of wisdom and inspiration. To encourage Americans to learn more about the Constitution, Congress established Constitution Week in 1956, to begin each year on September 17—the date in 1787 when delegates to the federal convention signed the Constitution. In 2004 Senator Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia took it a step further, sponsoring legislation designating September 17 of each year as Constitution Day and requiring public schools and government offices to provide educational programs to promote a better understanding of the Constitution. The Constitution of 1787 established the framework for the United States government, but it has fallen to succeeding generations to interpret and implement its principles. Every year, Constitution Day provides the opportunity for citizens to revisit the nation’s founding document and examine how it shapes this nation more than two centuries after its ratification”.
We are committed to the idea that activities developed to meet this law should not be something added to a social studies curriculum that is already replete with content and skills. Many of the suggestions for this one-day observance can be used as a springboard for continued study of (and connections to) the U.S. Constitution. Civics is embedded in Jeffco’s K-8 curriculum and has a stand-alone course in high school. There are also companion opportunities in our Modern US History, World History, and Economics courses for teachers to include civic related content.
By Sarah Hurd & Natalie Schaefer
“On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001 the al-Qaeda terrorist network successfully executed attacks against the United States using four commercial airplanes. The airplanes were used as missiles to commit suicide bombings on several key buildings in the US. The attacks killed 2,996 people, injured over 6,000 others, and caused at least $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage. The death toll increased even after the initial attacks, as additional people died of cancer and respiratory diseases related to the debris from the destroyed buildings in the months and years following the attacks” (Childs). People around the world were glued to news outlets and watched tragedy unfold as they followed the paths of Flight 93, Flight 77 and the two airliners that flew into the Twin Towers in New York City.
Twenty years have passed since the attacks on September 11, 2001, an event that would devastate a nation and change the course of history forever. “...it’s not a current, contemporary issue as much for students in the classroom as much as it’s a history lesson,” said Barbara McCormack, vice president of education at the Newseum. “It’s going from the front pages of the newspaper to the history books” (Martines). Even amidst unparalleled destruction and violence, the days after 9/11 showed the incredible strength, resilience, and courage of the American people. It is this spirit of strength that we continue to honor in the lives that were lost and those who are affected; and we celebrate the resilience of our nation over the last twenty years.
It’s not surprising that teaching 9/11 as history is a delicate task. These events are, for some people, a lived experience in recent history and for others a historical event that they read about in history textbooks or learn of the events on an online resource. For the teachers that remember that day, it can be an emotional and heavy day to be in the classroom. It can be hard to approach the subject matter as it is sensitive and the images and documents that might be used as primary sources are disturbing. The story is also very much still being written, as the effects of 9/11 on American society continue to evolve. There is no national guideline in terms of teaching the topic. Schools and teachers are able to determine what is a best fit for their students and staff. Teachers say many students have similar relationships with 9/11 as adults do with events like the bombing of Pearl Harbor or even the Challenger explosion: they know the facts but may not have the personal connection that comes with witnessing a tragedy and its aftermath.
There are several options that teachers can explore as they consider teaching about the events before, during and after September 11, 2001. Exploring the national memorials (Flight 93 National Memorial, 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, and the World Trade Center Memorial) might be a way to engage students in learning about the victims, heroes, and timeline of the events of the day. Teachers may explore the September 11 Initiative from StoryCorps and find a handful of stories to share with students. Listening to stories that commemorate the lives of those who were lost that day may help humanize the event for students and take it out of the realm of just dates and facts. A popular option for schools is to use the days around 9/11 as a way to focus on citizenship and those that serve. Schools may choose to host veterans, first responders, and other humanitarian groups to say thank you and to highlight the importance of these roles within American society.
As 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of these terrorist attacks on the United States there will be a flood of news stories, webinars, documentaries, and events. Each of these will offer their unique perspectives and observations. We encourage students, parents, and teachers to engage with what feels comfortable for them.
Childs, David. ““What Happened on September 11? I Honestly Don’t Know.”” Democracy & Me, 12 September 2019, https://www.democracyandme.org/what-happened-on-september-11-i-honestly-dont-know/. Accessed 7 September 2021.
Martines, Jamie. “'9/11 is now a history lesson for most students. It's hard to convey what happened without getting emotional.'” tes.com, The Hechinger Report, 12 September 2016, https://www.tes.com/news/911-now-history-lesson-most-students-its-hard-convey-what-happened-without-getting-emotional. Accessed 7 September 2021.
Nurturing My Own Professional Growth
Jeffco Bridge to Curriculum MMTS of resources
By Toni Bower
Welcome back to the PULSE from your Jeffco Curriculum and Instruction team. As we recently welcomed our new teachers to Jeffco during Induction, we shared and walked through our Jeffco Bridge to Curriculum. This colorful multimedia text set (MMTS) was shared and offered many opportunities for grounding in Bridge to Curriculum. We wanted to provide the same opportunity for all of those in our field to refresh or reground as we start the year. Please take a few minutes to look through this document and hopefully it helps you as you plan your units.
Explore the Bridge to Curriculum
Hitting the Summer Reset Button
Natalie Schaefer, Secondary Social Studies TOSA
To say that this has been a difficult year does not begin to address the myriad of obstacles educators have faced this school year. Teachers, if you have not already had someone say this to you directly, we appreciate you, we know you are working harder than you have ever had to work before, and we know that the work you are doing is positively impacting students throughout Jeffco. You have truly risen to the occasion and provided safe, loving, and educational environments for students. Thank you for all of the work you have done this year -- your service to our community is important and valued.
While I imagine many of you already have plans to recharge and reset for the summer, please consider some of the resources and suggestions below to get the most out of your summer reset. Kathleen Remington, manager and counselor with the Jeffco Employee Assistance Program (EAP), provided the information below to support teachers. Throughout the article are links to additional resources provided by Fran Taffer from Healthy Schools/Employee Wellness. Moreover, you can use the Summer of Wellness Activity Board to build resilience through gratitude, empathy/kindness, and mindfulness. You are important -- even just 10 minutes a day can make a big difference in your overall wellness.
Wishing you a wonderful summer break and hoping you take the opportunity to reset and rejuvenate for next school year. We look forward to working with you!
Building Resiliency throughout the Summer
by Kathleen Remington
How do people deal with difficult events in our lives? Many of us are feeling more anxious and stressed or irritable as the school year winds down. We also may have less patience with others and ourselves. Many aspects of our current daily lives seem to be influenced by situations beyond our control. Concerns such as COVID, budget reductions, and the economy create uncertainty in our world. It’s difficult to return to “normal” or to even know what normal is anymore.
Resilience is strength in times of change, the ability to bounce back after stressful events or simply manage the ups and downs of everyday living. Being resilient does not mean that you don’t experience difficulty or distress, it is the ability to recover from and successfully adapt to adversity and life’s problems. Resiliency can be improved with learned behaviors, thoughts, actions, and skills that can be developed by anyone.
We can help ourselves in the process of adapting by becoming more resilient and more skilled at recovering from stressors.
Here are some tips to build more resiliency this summer:
For more information on self-care and resiliency, or to speak with an EAP counselor, please contact your confidential Employee Assistance Program at 303-982-0377 or visit our website at teamjeffco.jeffcopublicschools.org/eap. Your EAP offers no-cost assistance to all Jeffco Public Schools employees, their family members over age 15, and retirees. “We’re here when you need us.”
This year Jeffco is celebrating 50 years of Visual Arts Shows. Perhaps you’ve attended a Jeffco show in the past, and it is very possible that you’ve known a student whose work was displayed either at the Elementary Art Show (at Red Rocks Community College), the Middle School Show (at Lakewood Cultural Center), the High School Show (at the Arvada Center), or at the Equity Show (at the Jeffco Ed Center). Due to the pandemic, there were no live shows this year but we still found a way to celebrate both the history of Visual Arts Shows in Jeffco and the resilience of both our teachers and students, who have had to teach and create under shifting remote and hybrid environments, with limited resources and interrupted instruction. A partnership between the Jeffco Schools Foundation, community donors, teachers and district staff has made possible the ability for student work to be recognized, an excellent example of the Jeffco Generation Skills “Agility and Adaptability” and “Collaboration”.
Jeffco’s Visual Arts teachers' commitment to nurturing creativity and artistic skills from K-12 is why our students in Jeffco are able to produce such amazing work. As we know the arts are important to the development of our students in many ways, as noted by the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities: “Decades of research shows strong and consistent links between high-quality arts education and a wide range of impressive educational outcomes.” (2016). What are these benefits to our students? They acquire skills in communication, connect their work to history, develop problem solving skills, are encouraged to be inventive and take risks, and through study and practice become connected to their own culture and cultures throughout the world (Seneca Academy, 2021). In addition, studies have shown that greater arts education has led to fewer disciplinary problems and higher attendance, graduation rates and test scores (Missouri Alliance for Arts Education, 2010).
Though we were saddened not to be able to enjoy the artistic efforts of our K-12 students in person, creating a virtual showplace has had the added benefit of increasing access to their work, as seen by virtual visits from all the family and friends who may not have otherwise been able to travel to an-in person show. Jeffcoarts.com is our website where all of this celebration has come together. It gives visitors an opportunity not just to view student artwork by both school and medium, but a place to learn about what makes the Visual Arts in Jeffco so special. Here one can learn all about the history of the last 50 years, get to know some of our outstanding teachers, and gain appreciation for our sponsors and donors, without whom Visual Arts shows would not be possible. Another great feature of this website is the Guest Book, where visitors can share their thoughts and congratulations and vote for their favorite works. On October 9, the Jeffco Schools Foundation will have a live gala at the Arvada Center celebrating our 50th year, and the top three community selected works will receive a special recognition, one at each level (Elementary, Middle and High School). Please come visit and see for yourself!
Amy H. Flynn, M.A., Assistant Director C&I - Electives
Shannon May, Visual Arts Coordinator
Helping Students Tackle Nonfiction Texts
Micah Schutte, Secondary ELA Literacy TOSA
Tiffany Wright Secondary ELA,
Literacy TOSA Tiffany.Wright@jeffco.k12.co.us
Tackling nonfiction texts can be a difficult task for all types of readers across all different content-areas. It can be hard to know how or where to start in supporting students in our classrooms with such an essential skill.
As educators we know that it’s important to read complex texts independently and proficiently in college, in the workplace, and in life. More specifically, we know that students need to have developed the skill, concentration, and stamina to read complex nonfiction texts as adults. So how do we, as teachers, develop students’ skills, concentration, and stamina?
Here’s what we know that matters to student reading growth:
As you move into your final units and begin planning for next year, consider these tips:
For example, you might model the strategies you use to:
As you mull over these considerations, connect with your colleagues to extend and redesign instruction that will help students tackle increasingly more complex nonfiction texts.
Adams, M. J. (2009). The challenge of advanced texts: The interdependence of reading and learning. In E. H. Hiebert (Ed.), Reading more, reading better: Are American students reading enough of the right stuff? (pp. 163–189). New York, NY: Guilford.
Allington, R. (2002). You Can't Learn Much from Books You Can't Read. Educational Leadership, 60, 16-19.
March is World Language Month
Curriculum & Instruction