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Social Education November/December 2018

Social Education Nov Dec 2018 showing students discussing a project.

This is a time of extraordinary polarization and lack of civility in our national political discourse. As social studies educators, it is part of our mission to teach students how to evaluate different perspectives on important issues and how to discuss them with civility and respect. In 2016, a survey of NCSS members ranked teaching about controversial issues first among the special topics that they would like to see covered in Social Education. This issue includes a special section on that subject whose guest editor, Diana E. Hess, is an expert on the discussion of controversies in the classroom.

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Editor's Notebook

Editors' Notebook
Michael Simpson



Confronting False Narratives in the Debate over Immigration
William McCorkle, Mikel W. Cole, Mindy Spearman

Examining the featured political cartoons offers students an opportunity to analyze myths about immigration and to consider ways that politicians have historically used nativist sentiments for political gain.     Civics/Government, US History

Lessons on the Law

A Primer on Constitutional Impeachment
Steven D. Schwinn

A classroom exploration of the basics of impeachment can serve as a launching pad into a lesson on constitutional checks-and-balances. Secondary/High School     Civics/Government, Law-Related

Sources and Strategies

Encouraging Student Examination of Persuasive Strategies Used in an Anti-Lynching Report
Stephen Wesson

The examination of the two featured pages of a 1921 House anti-lynching report can facilitate an engaging inquiry into the continued absence of a federal lynching law as well as historical efforts by lawmakers and civic groups to promote justice and change. Secondary/High School     US History

Teaching with Documents

Little Rock of the North: Segregation in New Rochelle, New York
Christopher Zarr

Students’ investigation into the 1961 Supreme Court case that addressed desegregation efforts in New York can be a springboard into research into the desegregated status of their own local schools Secondary/High School     US History

Teaching the C3 Framework

Why Korea? Why Now? Using Inquiry to Teach about the Korean War and Its Legacy
Jongwoo Han and Joseph Karb

The inquiry-based materials and audio interviews of Korean War veterans highlighted in this article offer an excellent entry point into a lesson on the “forgotten” war and its legacy.     World History

Teaching Controversial Issues


Teaching Controversial Issues: An Introduction
Diana E. Hess

In the face of intense political polarization, we must not give up on preparing young people to become active participants in a pluralistic society brimming with opposing views.     Civics/Government


Rethinking Immigration as a Controversy
Dafney Blanca Dabach, Natasha Hakimali Merchant, Aliza K. Fones

By reframing typical approaches to classroom debates on immigration, we empower immigrant students to be active participants in, rather than the subjects of, our conversation. Secondary/High School     Civics/Government


A Pathway to Racial Literacy: Using the LETS ACT Framework to Teach Controversial Issues
LaGarrett J. King, Amanda E. Vickery, Genevieve Caffrey

Exploring race and other controversial issues in a civil and productive manner develops students’ racial literacies and equips them to be proactive citizens in a democratic society.     Civics/Government


Teaching Controversial Issues in a Time of Polarization
Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg and Rey Junco

Families and principals can play a crucial role in fostering controversial-issue classroom discussions that support students’ civic learning. Secondary/High School     Civics/Government


Can We Do This Every Day? Engaging Students in Controversial Issues through Role-Play
Jane C. Lo

Role-play in the classroom that avoids mimicking, caricaturing, or minimizing events in history can broaden students’ understanding of the complexities of the world.     Civics/Government


Lessons Learned about the Challenges of Classroom Deliberations
Avner Segall, Margaret S. Crocco, Anne-Lise Halvorsen, Rebecca Jacobsen

Students can gain important citizenship skills by practicing argumentation and evidence use, examining their own thinking, and speaking to those with whom they disagree.  Secondary/High School     Civics/Government