A Teacher-Center Sponsored Conference Attendees Story
Presenting and Participating at the Middle States Council for the Social Studies 114th Annual Regional Conference
Feb. 24-25, 2017 by Monica Kwiatkowski

Thanks to the Catt- Allegany Teacher Center, I had the extraordinary opportunity to attend the Middle States Council for the Social Studies Conference, in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The theme this year, “Social Studies: A Road Map for Social Justice” provided the backdrop for two days of incredible networking with educators, practitioner workshops, and presentations from experts in the field.

Our first day field trip included a private tour of Bunker 519 at Fort Miles, Delaware State Park, a fully restored WWII era fort and museum housed in Lewes Delaware State Park. The bunker can be virtually undetected from above ground, but once to its doors, an entire cement world opens up. There we learned the importance of Philadelphia as a shipping hub during the war, and the US strategy to protect its waters. Fort Miles houses one of the largest collections of large diameter guns designed to take out German battle ships and houses an underground bunker turned into a museum. It was an historians dream to roam around underground studying the artifacts and recreations that allowed for the fort to be operational to the public. The visit gave me great insights that I can share with my students to better understand the military defense strategy of the US during WWII.

Our second day included break out sessions on various topics including utilizing Inquiry, Argument writing, and Online DBQ’s from the DBQ Project. I explored the difficulties that Sikh-Americans face through a presentation from the Kaur Foundation, which provided me with a great learning strategy using a museum walk and silence to allow students to process information from news articles. I have already used their materials to enrich my Advisory classes to discuss and break physical stereotypes.  Another one of my favorite sessions included using the C3 framework and inquiry to explore past and present immigration trends from Alexandra Greenword from Harford Co. Public School Maryland. To wrap up the day, I attended a panel discussion was led on current concerns of minority groups from experts from Temple University, Howard University, the Kaur Foundation, LGBT Lobby, and Russia Initiatives.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

A librarian specialist from Anne Arundel Public Schools, Maryland, Carol Thornton, and I presented about our experience developing lesson plans as a Barringer Fellow, at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, during the summer of 2016. Our presentation, “Thomas Jefferson on Life, Liberty, and leaving a Legacy”, had 15 teachers attend and was well received by the audience. We shared our week-long adventure at the University of Virginia, and exploring all aspects of the inner workings of Monticello. After the presentation, we had a young teacher come up and tell us that the material we provided was going to help him develop his formal observation lesson for next week. It did my heart good to know I was helping a new educator become better at his craft.

Overall, the experience was well worth the time and effort it took to head to Delaware. I explored some of the best educational practices going on in a six state region in the Social Studies, I was able to visit the vendors to see their new wares, and the networking with like-minded colleagues helped me get excited about my craft and my everyday classroom activities. Thank you so much Catt- Allegany Teacher Center for helping me get there.