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Content to Classroom

Content to Classroom

By Virginia Council for the Social Studies

In each episode of Content to Classroom, a Virginia Council for Social Studies podcast, host, Sam Futrell, interviews historians, politicians, journalists, and educators on topics related to social studies and social studies education. The result is an engaging and authentic discussion that will leave teachers feeling empowered to try something new.
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Holocaust Education Is Not Making Anti-Semitism Worse: But Clickbait Journalism Might Be

Content to ClassroomApr 21, 2023

Holocaust Education Is Not Making Anti-Semitism Worse: But Clickbait Journalism Might Be
Apr 21, 202359:50
Tips and Tricks for Applying to Summer Professional Development Programs

Tips and Tricks for Applying to Summer Professional Development Programs

Are you a teacher looking to participate in professional development this summer? Want to make the most out of your summer as a teacher? Don’t feel overwhelmed by the application process. We can help Our panelists - Ben Boyce with the Jack Miller Center, Sarah Harris with the National Constitution Center, and Jeff Scott with the Freedoms Foundation - are insiders with nationally renowned institutions who share with us their firsthand experiences and all the tips you need to get accepted into the program of your dreams! 

Register for the 2023 VCSS Conference!

NEH Institutes

  • Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge offers summer teacher workshops each year at their Valley Forge campus. Join the over 14,000 educators who have enriched their knowledge and their classrooms through our critically acclaimed and accredited seminars. For over 50 years, teachers like you have connected with our course content taught by extraordinary scholars and thinkers.
  • This March the Foundation will offer complimentary acceptance to one lucky attendee at the VIrginia Social Studies Conference in Richmond. Register to attend the conference:
  • Summer Workshop Link:
  • The National Constitution Center recognizes not only the importance of primary sources, but also the importance of engaging with teachers across the nation. Throughout the year, and particularly during the summer months, NCC offers their Summer Educator Institute series. Every summer, the National Constitution Center hosts educators from across the country in its summer institute series, bringing together top educators and ideologically diverse constitutional scholars. Through both weeklong in-person sessions and three-day virtual sessions, educators work with content experts throughout these programs to deepen their knowledge of constitutional topics and their historical contexts and modern understandings. While working with teacher facilitators and the Center's education team, participants discover and develop innovative, nonpartisan ways to make the content relevant to their students. Educators gain new content knowledge, teaching tools, classroom-ready resources, and skills for improving constitutional literacy.
  • The Jack Miller Center website offers a variety of resources for learning more about American political thought and development. These include articles, videos, useful websites, and fellows’ publications. Each summer the Center builds and provides collegial-level educational opportunities for teachers to engage in academic discussions relating to political and governmental topics. The incentive to support educators is derived from the will to build a movement of civic educators to reach the next generation with the principles of equality, liberty, and opportunity that lie at the heart of the American political tradition. Summer workshop offerings will be available soon on the Jack Miller Center website.
  • Jack Miller Center Link:

Feb 22, 202301:05:14
The Future of Virginia's History and Social Studies Standards
Jan 04, 202301:03:50
Depth by Design: Using Deeper Learning Elements in Social Studies

Depth by Design: Using Deeper Learning Elements in Social Studies

Current trends in social studies education, including within Virginia, point towards deeper learning experiences as the north star of desired practice. In 2015, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) revised curriculum framework for social studies introduced a standard dedicated to history and social science thinking skills. Emphasizing the use of disciplinary concepts and a pedagogy centered on inquiry, Virginia’s future embraces constructivist pedagogies and the use of performance assessments to demonstrate student learning.  The shifts are polar opposites of what many VA. teachers have been used to since the early 21st century. In turn, rote memorization and teacher centered instruction continue to be held as markers of successful and valuable teaching and learning.  The alternative to this approach is a pedagogy of deeper learning.  

Realizing deeper learning practices in classrooms, however, is ultimately a local, classroom, phenomenon. How a teacher enacts a curriculum, therefore, is where practice intersects with policy. To this end, successful implementation of deeper learning practices involves the following six outcomes:
1. use of inquiry through student generated questions
2. constructivist approach  where students generate meaning and understanding
3. use of disciplinary concepts as part of student learning
4. connections are made to the student’s life or to the contemporary world
5. authentic demonstration of learning by students
6. time to reflect on how the content impacted their understanding of themselves or the contemporary world.

Craig Perrier is the High School Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction Specialist for Fairfax County Public Schools in Fairfax, VA. He is also an adjunct professor for the teacher certification program Educate VA and with Framingham State University. .  Previously, he taught at American Schools in Brazil for six years and for six years in public schools in Massachusetts. After leaving the classroom, Craig was the Coordinator for Curriculum and Instruction for Social Studies and History at Virtual High School and then the PK-12 Social Studies Coordinator for the Department of Defense Dependent Schools.  He has consulted with IREX, IIE, iEARN, The Global Campaign for Education, ABC-Clio, The World History Project, and the U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian. In addition, Craig has a M.A. in Global History, M.Ed in Education Leadership and  is pursuing his doctorate in Education Leadership  He presents at regional and national conferences, and is the creator of the free online teacher resource 
"U.S. History in a Global Context."

Links for this episode: 

Sep 28, 202239:51
Does Economics Help Us Do the Right Thing?

Does Economics Help Us Do the Right Thing?

The study of economics can help students analyze their choices. But can economics lead us to choices that are good? That is, that are the right thing to do? In this episode Dr. Stephen Day from the VCU Center for Economic Education interrogates the ethical assumptions that form the background of economic analysis, explores thorny moral questions from an economic perspective, and introduces teachers to classroom resources that help them teach this important content, including activities from the new lesson plan book, "Ethics, Economics, and Social Issues Curriculum" from the Council for Economic Education.

May 13, 202235:55
Embracing Digital Scholarship to Engage All Learners

Embracing Digital Scholarship to Engage All Learners

In this episode we dive into the world of digital scholarship with Annie Evans from New American History. History is the turbulent, unpredictable, and deeply human record of everything that happened before this moment. Through interactive maps, video, audio, an algorithmic engine of journalism, and tools for educators, we hope to make visible what was previously invisible about our shared American story.

Apply to be a guest on the podcast!

Apr 15, 202237:49
Bonus Episode! Discussing the War in Ukraine with CEUTTSS at Virginia Tech

Bonus Episode! Discussing the War in Ukraine with CEUTTSS at Virginia Tech

Today's episode explores the War in Ukraine with Dr. Yannis Stivachtis and Colin Baker from the Center for the European Union and Transatlantic Transeuropean Space Studies at Virginia Tech. 

Visit the CEUTTSS website: 

Links from today's episode:

1) BBC lengthy story on the turning points in history and how Feb 24th is now one of these: (March 19th)


3) European History educators site, Euroclio, with a wealth of context and huge amount of resources and lesson plans: (March 18th, updated every week or so)

4) New York Times article and podcast (transcript available) on Putin/Russia by Ukraine/Russia expert Timothy Snyder - great context and depth: (March 15th)

5) For real depth, Synder's books on Ukraine/Russia and democracy are invaluable: "Bloodlands" (1930s/40s eastern Europe), 2016 and "The Road to Unfreedom" 

6) Borders and Self-determination: Crimea

7) European and other news outlet reports on Ukraine - including articles in the original language (Frech, German may be of interest to World Language teachers and others)

8) Choices Program:

9)  How Ukraine became Ukraine, in 7 maps

Mar 25, 202254:07
Creating "Our Commonwealth" - Stories and People that Define Virginia
Mar 21, 202232:21
Escaping Ordinary: Digital Escape Rooms in the Classroom

Escaping Ordinary: Digital Escape Rooms in the Classroom

Escape Rooms have been all the rage over the past few years. For those that don't know, escape rooms are just that... a room you must escape from. Usually, there is a theme to an escape room, and it is up to you and whomever you're with to solve a series of puzzles in under an hour to "escape" the room. As an avid escape room hobbyist, I wondered if this concept could be applied to the classroom. Sure enough, it can! Through a variety of different platforms, teachers can use or create their own escape room right in the classroom. It encourages collaboration amongst groups, critical thinking and evaluation, and to just have fun! This concept can be used to introduce content, review content, or even teach content. My students have tried to keep the villainous Ms. G. (that's me) from pulling a Carmen Sandiego and stealing major monuments throughout Europe (World Geography), and they've tried to save Julius Caesar from his gruesome fate. The sky is the limit with these activities, not to mention it is so fun to see students engaged (and frustrated) with the content. Escape rooms can be done with physical locks or they can be done through a digital platform. I have more experience creating and using digital escape rooms than physical. There is also a website called Breakout EDU that allows teachers to create themed content right there on their website for virtual learning, as well as offering information on how to get started with in-person activities.

Apply to be a podcast guest: 

All of Jenn's amazing links:

- European Digital Breakout (World Geography):

- Save the Republic Digital Breakout (World History):

- Save the Renaissance Mini Digital Breakout (World History):

- Hub for digital breakout resources:

- Breakout EDU (this has some free resources, but otherwise you’d have to pay):

- A good blog post about creating digital escape rooms:

- This one looks like a really good source!

Mar 14, 202236:40
Connecting the Past and Present with Retro Report
Dec 16, 202101:00:35
The Salem Witch Trials: Their World and Legacy

The Salem Witch Trials: Their World and Legacy

Join Sam Futrell as she interviews professors Dr. Mark Herlihy and Dr. Elizabeth Matelski about the historical implications of the Salem Witch Trials. Together, we explore the social, cultural, and political causes of the Salem Witch Trials (SWT), discuss the major players in the SWT and seventeenth-century Puritanism. We'll also talk about the significant effects of the SWT, including how the SWT serves as an archetype for mob mentality and the oppression of marginalized groups in both literature and history. And of course, we'll share ideas/strategies for how educators can use/teach the Salem Witch Trials in their classrooms

Dr. Mark Herlihy started at Endicott in 2001 as an Assistant Professor of History. He teaches "Salem Witch Trials," "Boston History," "Public History," and "American Suburbia," among other courses. He has presented papers at meetings of the American Studies Association, the Organization of American Historians, and at the Massachusetts Historical Society's Boston Immigration and Urban History Seminar. He is completing a book on the history of Revere Beach. Dr. Herlihy has been very active in the New England Historical Association and served a term as President of the organization. A native of Winchester, Massachusetts, he earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at Tufts University and a Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy in American Civilization at Brown University.

Dr. Matelski is a New England transplant from the upper Midwest. Her teaching interests include American multiculturalism, popular culture, and incorporating digital technologies into the history classroom. In addition to teaching American history, she also created the Public History concentration for Endicott`s history majors. She is currently editing a book chapter on global beauty culture and conducting research for a book on Robin Mingo, an enslaved Black man after whom Mingo Beach is named.



Margo Burns:

Peabody Essex Museum:

NEH Summer Seminars: 

Oct 29, 202101:18:33
The Complete Story of the Salem Witch Trials

The Complete Story of the Salem Witch Trials

Join Dr. Elizabeth Matelski from Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts as she tells the story of one of the most contested topics in American history: the Salem Witch Trials. 

Both comprehensive and cozy, this episode provides a multifaceted retelling of the trials from Matelski's seasoned historical lens. If you're assigning this to your class as a homework assignment(s), we've noted the natural time breaks and topics of the episode below:

  • 0-4:45 minutes: Introduction
  • 4:45-26 minutes:  The causes of the Salem Witch Trials --> Tituba's confession
  • 27:00-43 minutes: Tituba's confession --> the Trials' end 

In our next episode, Dr. Herlihy joins Dr. Matelski and host, Sam Futrell, to examine the role of gender, race, memory, and religion in the mass hysteria that rocked Massachusetts Bay in 1692.

Oct 04, 202144:01
Remembering 9/11

Remembering 9/11

Today, we are partnering with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York. As you probably already know Saturday is the twentieth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon which resulted in the death of 2,996 people, over 25,000 injuries, and the start of the United States War on Terror.

It also resulted in the War in Afghanistan as well, which has received much attention in the news as of late with the Taliban’s takeover, the bombings of the Kabul airport, and the evacuation of Americans and Europeans from the country.

I was joined on today’s episode to discuss all of this as well as how to best remember 9/11 in our classrooms by the Vice President of Education at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, Megan Jones, and the Assistant Director of Education, Jennifer Lagasse.

9/11 Memorial and Museum Resources:

Register for the Anniversary in the Schools webinar, get a preview of the program, access viewing guides, and learn about the live chat here:

Access the 9/11 Primer here:

Register for our free downloadable poster exhibition in partnership with the ALA here:

Access lesson plans divided by grade and theme, including 'Warning Signs of an Attack' here:

Explore our archive of past Anniversary in the Schools speakers here:

Explore our virtual school programs here:

If listeners have questions or feedback, Megan and Jen can be reached at

Sep 07, 202153:23
The Genocide Against the Tutsis in Rwanda

The Genocide Against the Tutsis in Rwanda

In this episode, Tim Hensley, Director of Collections at the Virginia Holocaust Museum, walks us through the causes, key events, and effects of the Genocide Against the Tutsis in Rwanda. Then, Jason Nshimye shares his story. Jason Nshimye was born and raised in Rwanda. He is the Founder and President of the Human Rights and Justice Foundation. He has been an activist for human rights and crime prevention. Jason, at the age of 15, and his wife Francoise, at the age of 8, survived the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis in Bisesero, Rwanda. As public speakers, they share their experiences as survivors because they believe it is in everyone’s best interest to support victims and strive for forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation.

We invite you to visit the Virginia Holocaust Museum in person or online to hear more about Jason's story and the experience of genocide survivors in Richmond. 

Jul 28, 202101:03:56
Genocide in the 20th Century Pt. 1: How to Teach Genocide

Genocide in the 20th Century Pt. 1: How to Teach Genocide

In this two-part episode, Sam interviews Tim Hensley, curator of the Virginia Holocaust Museum, and Jason H. Nshimye, Richmond local & survivor of the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda. 

Jason Nshimye was born and raised in Rwanda. He is the Founder and President of the Human Rights and Justice Foundation. He has been an activist for human rights and crime prevention. Jason, at the age of 15, and his wife Francoise, at the age of 8, survived the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis in Bisesero, Rwanda. As public speakers, they share their experiences as survivors because they believe it is in everyone’s best interest to support victims and strive for forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation. Jason is a former President of The Richmond Rwandan Community. He was named as Correspondent of the year by Richmond Times-Dispatch in 2011.

Tim joined the Virginia Holocaust Museum in 2004 as the Director of the Carole Weinstein Holocaust Research Library. He moved to his current position in 2013 where he continues to serve as the modern genocide specialist for the Museum. His graduate work focused on preservation and access to post-custodial primary sources, using the Jewish Parachutists of Mandate Palestine who trained with the British to aid in the Hungarian resistance movement.

His research focuses on the use of oral history in constructing collective memory. His recent papers include Give Sorrow Words: Narrative Voice in Genocide Testimony; We Cannot Destroy Kindred: The Role of Family in the Lives of Holocaust Survivors; I Did Not Interview the Dead: Approaches to Interviewing Survivors of Tragic Events; From Creation to Donation: How Archivists
Empower Hidden Communities.

The first part of this episode introduces Tim & Jason and explores the concept of genocide itself-- what it is, the stages of its development, and how to teach it in the classroom. 

Jun 23, 202154:58
Teaching Tough Topics: The Holocaust

Teaching Tough Topics: The Holocaust

Join us as we discuss content and strategies around teaching The Holocaust in any social studies classroom with The Virginia Holocaust Museum (VHM). Education Director, Megan Ferenczy, walks us through how educators should address trauma in the classroom, what information about The Holocaust to focus on for different age groups, and how to incorporate VHM resources into a Holocaust/WWII unit. Then, Holocaust survivor, Dr. Roger Loria, shares parts of his own story and addresses why educating students about The Holocaust is still important today.

May 28, 202101:14:05
Teaching Writing in the Social Studies with Encyclopedia Virginia
May 04, 202101:17:53
Practicing Antiracism in the Social Studies Classroom: A Conversation with Dr. Hasan Jeffries

Practicing Antiracism in the Social Studies Classroom: A Conversation with Dr. Hasan Jeffries

Every third Thursday of the month, the Virginia Council for the Social Studies hosts a virtual* meeting called "Scholars' Hour" in which teachers from around the state can gather to discuss social studies content, strategies, and technology.
February is Black history month—a time to reflect on the complexity of Black history in the United States and to celebrate Black excellence. But social studies teachers in Virginia know that Black history, culture, voices, and stories belong in our classroom every month of the year. That's why the Virginia Council for the Social Studies wants to embrace antiracist education and support teachers and students around the state in this movement.
Join us as we discuss strategies for "hard history" and antiracist teaching in the social studies classroom with our esteemed guest, The Ohio State University associate professor Dr. Hasan Jeffries. Among Dr. Jeffries' numerous accolades as a historian are several prominent books on the civil rights and Black Power movements, including In the Shadow of Civil Rights and Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt. He also hosts the podcast "Teaching Hard History," and many of our VCSS members will remember his moving discussion with Chris Matthews at the 2019 VCSS Conference.
We were pleased to welcome him as the leading scholar for this event.
Mar 01, 202158:31
Teaching Social and Emotional Learning in the New Year
Feb 16, 202154:08
The European Union: Past and Present

The European Union: Past and Present

If you are a teacher in Virginia and want to learn about international relations and the European Union's role as a international government organization, then look no further than Virginia Tech, which has been newly honored as a Jean Monnet Center for Excellence. 

Jean Monnet Centers exist in only eleven colleges and universities throughout the United States. They function as "a focal point of competence and knowledge on European Union subjects, [bringing] together high-level experts to create links between the various disciplines and resources in European studies and to form links with academic institutions in other countries." In their essence, Jean Monnet Centers serve to educate American communities about the European Union and create dialogue around international issues. 

In this episode, Dr. Yannis Stivachtis, chair of VT's Jean Monnet Center, and Colin Baker, the Center's Assistant Director for Education and Outreach join Sam to discuss the history of the European Union, it's current challenges, and it's goals for 2021. 

If you teach anything relating to Europe, government, the modern world, or international relations, you MUST listen to this episode! 

(Plus, you'll love listening to Yannis and Colin's lovely European accents.)

Contact Colin Baker if you have any questions regarding the EU and Virginia Tech's Jean Monnet Center: 

Links for the episode:

The EU's Covid/vaccine response:

Lesson plans aimed at middle/high school on the issue of national/European/cultural identity:

Re: supranational organization vs inter-governmental organization, with the EU being a hybrid of both, a nice chart of that is on this page:


Jan 28, 202101:22:05
From the Ballot Box to the Oval Office: Presidential Transitions of Power
Dec 18, 202001:15:05
Teaching Social Studies through Storytelling and Dramatic Play | Storytelling Series

Teaching Social Studies through Storytelling and Dramatic Play | Storytelling Series

If you search the internet for quotes about stories and storytelling, Google will give you about 14,900,000 results in .56 seconds. Writer and anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson says that "the human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories." Activist, novelist, and poet Margaret Atwood tells the faceless bastardes  they are never "going to kill storytelling because it’s built into the human plan." The list goes on-- presumably with at least 14,899,898 more entries. 

As human beings, we not only love stories, but love to talk about them. 

In this episode, Sam talks a lot about stories with two amazing guests-- Stephen Gianotti and Brendan Wolfe. And though they might be less quotable than Bateson and Atwood,  the three share invaluable ways to use stories, the process of storytelling, and dramatic play in the social studies classroom. 

Links from episode:

Brendan Wolfe:

Finding Bix: The Life and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend:

Mr. Jefferson's Telescope: A History of the University of Virginia in 100 Objects:

Digital Artifact Analysis: 

Nov 16, 202001:20:28
Using Children's Literature to Teach Tough Topics | Storytelling Series
Oct 27, 202001:10:13
Addressing Elections and Equity in the Classroom

Addressing Elections and Equity in the Classroom

It's that time of year again. The leaves are changing, everyone is dressed in cozy sweaters, warm apple cider fills the air, and it's time to vote.
And if it's time to vote, it's time to teach kids in classrooms across the country about the American electoral process-- a job that can have it's challenges at any time, but seems to be particularly difficult in 2020-- it's a presidential election year. We're in a pandemic. The West is burning. The South is flooding. And the nation is fraught with racial tension after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others by unchecked police.
So, how are social studies educators supposed to balance teaching elections and not coming across as biased, while championing equity?
Listen to this episode, and let Bianca Moore, a defense attorney in NOLA, and Wesley Hedgepeth, a high school social studies teacher in Richmond, VA guide you through all things election and equity in the classroom.
Don't forget to register for the first VCSS Scholars' Hour!
Links from today's discussion:
Avid Conversation Starters
411 Vote
Political Compass
1619 Project
U.S. Census Database
The Harkness Method
Oct 01, 202053:39