Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
Office of Literacy and Humanities
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October 2020 Newsletter

Welcome to the first monthly Office of Literacy and Humanities newsletter! Each month, you'll find highlighted resources and upcoming opportunities to connect with colleagues and further your professional learning in ELA, History/Social Science, and the Arts. 

You're receiving this because you've participated in literacy and humanities events with DESE in the past. If you're not interested, simply click here to unsubscribe. And if you have colleagues who would like to receive this newsletter, send them this link to register!
Educators, leaders and community members came together last month for DESE's 4th Civics Literacy Conference, which featured an opening plenary featuring Scott Seider and Daren Graves, authors of Schooling for Critical Consciousness; a panel discussion on media literacy; and 20+ workshops on civic knowledge, skills, and dispositions.

Have a highlight you would like to share? Please email We would love to feature the work that you, your school, and your students are doing!

Monthly Subject Spotlight

It’s almost here! The Mass Literacy Guide will be making its debut soon. Mass Literacy is a statewide effort to empower educators with the evidence-based practices for literacy that all students need. Evidence-based instruction, provided within schools and classrooms that are culturally responsive and sustaining, will put our youngest students on a path toward literacy for life. Want to be the first to find out when it’s available? Update your newsletter settings to receive ELA-specific updates.
Teaching about the 2020 election? Facing History and Ourselves has a resource hub with teaching strategies and instructional approaches to foster discussions about voting rights, political participation, and making informed decisions. And Johns Hopkins University has created a guide with best practices for engaging students in civic discourse in the lead-up to the election.
Arts Education and Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Framework: This crosswalk tool, developed by a SEL and Arts Education Taskforce in New Jersey, allows users to search the SEL competencies as they align to the four clusters of the arts standards. Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions are outlined in the framework that can be used when planning curriculum and instruction in the arts. 


Don’t miss out: Register now for DESE’s Arts Leaders Network
The Arts Leaders Network will support PreK-12 arts leaders to come together to engage in discussions relevant to the arts and their role as leaders within their districts. This network will provide participants an opportunity to share resources and strategies for implementing the 2019 Arts Curriculum Framework, discuss arts instructional materials, and connect with leaders from across the Commonwealth. It will provide participants an opportunity to deepen understanding of the major shifts and standards of the Framework, as well as accompanying guidance and resources, including response to COVID-19. Contact Dawn Benski, Arts Content Support Lead, with any questions, or click here to register!

Planning for student-led civics projects this year?
This year, schools are expected to provide non-partisan civics projects to all students in grade 8 and once in high school. If you have not yet started planning for these projects, the Civics Projects: Implementation 101 Network will lay the foundation to get started. This network will support  participants in understanding the characteristics of high-quality, aligned civics projects and planning for implementation. It includes two virtual, regional meetings in the fall and optional virtual support forums throughout the year. Contact Cecelia Spencer, History/Social Science Content Support Specialist, with questions, or see dates and register here!

Elementary Literacy Leaders Network: First meeting next week!
The Elementary Literacy Leaders Network will support PreK-5 ELA/literacy district leaders, coaches,  and coordinators to share with each other in order to promote effective literacy practice. This network will engage educators in the learning and implementation of evidence-based early literacy practices, instruction, and assessment. It will also provide participants an opportunity to deepen understanding of the new Mass Literacy Guide. Contact Susan Kazeroid, Literacy Content Lead, with questions, or register here -- the first meeting is October 13!

Join other history educators (and DESE) at NERCVirtual 2020
The Northeast Regional Conference for the Social Studies (NERC) is excited to host a virtual conference experience this fall! Conference workshops, master classes and webinars will take place virtually throughout October and November, including a chance to connect with members of the DESE History and Social Science team on October 29 at 3:30 PM. All keynote sessions, workshops, and webinars are FREE – registration required – for all K-12 social studies teachers (active and retired), student teachers, and college and university faculty. To register, please click here.

DESE's Center for Instructional Support is hiring!
Are you someone with a passion for curriculum and instruction and supporting other educators? Join DESE’s Center for Instructional Support and make a positive difference in the lives of more than one million students statewide. We are currently seeking an Associate Commissioner of Instructional Support, an ELA/Literacy Content Support Specialist, and an Early Literacy Project Coordinator. Learn more about the positions here or apply through MassCareers.


Dig in to remote teaching with online PD modules
The Center for Instructional Support has a free, 5-part series of self-guided modules for teachers and other school-based educators who are engaging in remote teaching and learning this year, whether through a hybrid or fully remote model. Each module includes specific instructional practices, tips, and strategies for remote teaching in key areas such as Curriculum & Planning, Learning Environment, Family Collaboration, and Professional Collaboration. Educators can also dig deeper into content-specific strategies aligned to the curriculum frameworks, reflect on culturally responsive practice, and explore digital tools and resources supportive of both live and asynchronous instruction.
On the Calendar...
Tuesday, October 13, 9-12: Elementary Literacy Leaders Network Meeting (Register or Questions)

Thursday, October 22, 9-1: History/Social Science Leaders Network Meeting (Register or Questions)

Thursday, October 29, 3:30 PM: DESE History/Social Science Updates Session at Northeast Regional Conference for the Social Studies (Register or Questions)

Thursday, November 5, 3:00 PM: Arts Leaders Network Meeting (Register or Questions)
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Literacy and Humanities