| By Jessica Bomarito|
I have just returned from San Francisco, where I attended NCSS—the annual conference for the National Council for the Social Studies. I arrived in San Francisco on a cold, rainy Thursday— an evening in the midst of a protest designed to raise awareness to the housing needs of the city’s homeless residents.
Such civil engagement around seemingly intractable problems is at the heart of social studies, and I couldn’t help seeing the connection between the protest on a street corner in San Francisco to the mission of the dedicated, inventive social studies teachers I engaged with and learned from for several days at the conference. As an Acquisitions Editor at Gale, I was glad to have a seat in the room to watch this amazing group of teachers inspire their peers and provide practical tips, sample lessons, and more, all in an effort to reach students and inspire future adult citizens to take action.
I listened as teachers shared the hours they put into developing meaningful lessons and achieving measurable outcomes. I learned about the challenges around, and payoff of, inquiry-based learning, critical peace theory, and structured academic controversy, just to name a few. But most of all, I felt the passion that these teachers bring to their jobs, and I came away with an even greater admiration for what teachers do every single day.
Teachers now work harder than ever, often supplementing textbook material with open web and other resources, spending their own time and money to create dynamic learning environments. My job in developing new titles for Gale is to create engaging content for key topic areas, with practical teacher resources that help meet these classroom needs.
At Gale, we’ve always had strong relationships with libraries. For over 60 years, we’ve provided Humanities content that can be trusted for its authority. And while we’ll always keep our focus on producing content that is authoritative, we have evolved beyond traditional reference and now create content that is purposed for the classroom.
In 2015, we recognized the need to support teachers with content centered on civic engagement, which led to the creation and publication of UXL: Civics. Designed with the classroom in mind, the three-volume set focuses on middle school civics, economics, history, and U.S. government curricula. Content is aligned to national standards, and an instructional guide provides teachers with classroom activities, lesson plans, and more.
In concert with teachers and curriculum experts, we are continuing to innovate, and are excited for the publication of new titles arriving to the Gale eBooks on GVRL platform in spring 2018, designed for middle and high school students and full of integrated tools for teaching. Targeted videos, primary sources with document-based questions, activities with assessment rubrics, and accountability charts all work to make these eBooks even easier for teachers to use in the classroom. With no limits to the number of users and search results delivered at the article-level, GVRL provides informational text that can be used by the whole class for discussion or individual inquiry. Google tools are embedded in GVRL, so downloading and sharing documents is easy, and incorporating GVRL content into lesson plans is seamless. No more late-night searching for supplemental resources or stretching of personal dollars by teachers needed.
As we support teachers in their mission to create engaged, informed citizens, it is my fervent hope that we will all join in the discussion to bring about meaningful change, encourage others to join the conversation, and work together to bring an end to the phrase “intractable issues.”