ISSUED: 28 January 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Five Shepherd University education students who attended the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) National Conference are hoping the experience will help make them better teachers one day.
Secondary education majors Sarah Florak, Shepherdstown, Alicen Hoover, Martinsburg, Kameron Kesner, Purgitsville, Leanna Basye, Baker, and Cody Bitner, Hagerstown, Maryland, joined Dr. Jason Allen, assistant professor of education, in attending the conference.
Allen, who called the NCSS the premier organization related to teaching and research in social studies, said the four-day national conference offered hundreds of sessions related to social studies instruction, curriculum, and major issues. He said the sessions are especially important to Shepherd social studies education students because they give them the opportunity to learn more classroom approaches.
“One of the most common concerns that social studies students ask is ‘How do you handle the teaching and discussion of tough topics?’” Allen said. “With all the events of 2020, ‘Advancing Social Justice’ was the major NCSS conference theme and seemed to connect directly with that question. The keynote/featured speakers were individuals associated with major social studies issues, such as the 1619 project, or people whose materials are often used in social studies classrooms.”
The conference featured nationally known speakers such as documentary filmmakers Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and John J. Valadez; television journalists Yamiche Alcindor, Amna Nawaz, and Chuck Todd; Cherokee Nation community organizer Rebecca Nagle; and authors Chelsea Clinton and Andrea Davis Pinkney.
“I personally was super excited about this conference,” Alicen Hoover said. “As a teacher I am always thrilled to work with other colleagues, especially with social studies content. I feel that we often get left out. We are hardly considered common core anymore and interest in history is dwindling within the classroom. I am always eager to have new resources, strategies, and thoughts.”
Allen and the five students were able to attend the conference thanks to a $925 Shepherd Center for Teaching and Learning Assessment Grant that covered the registration fees. He said one advantage to the online conference is that the Shepherd students, who are student teaching this semester, will have access to all the sessions and materials until the end of April, so they can log into the conference website anytime for ideas, materials, or to catch up on sessions they might have missed.
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