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Jean Shin, ASA Minority Fellowship Program
On November 13, 2015, in New Orleans, ASA once again sponsored an all-day symposium for high school teachers at the 2015 National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Annual Conference. This was the fifth event of this kind that ASA has sponsored since 2011. However, this one was a little different because of the high school teachers’ excitement about the newly published ASA National Standards for High School Sociology.
Approved by ASA Council this August in Chicago, the National Standards are designed to provide guidance to teachers and administrators seeking to develop high quality, developmentally appropriate one-semester introductory sociology courses for students in the 9th to 12th grades. The Standards do not address all of the topics that could be covered in a one-semester sociology course. Rather, they establish the minimal content that any foundational sociology class at the high school level should cover. The National Standards were developed by a panel of experts that included high school teachers of sociology from across the country, sociology faculty at the post-secondary level, and ASA staff members.
The NCSS day-long sociology symposium was divided into four linked sessions. Nearly 80 high school teachers of sociology attended, many of whom attended multiple sessions. The sessions were organized by the four “domains” that comprise the National Standards.
Domain 1: Sociological Perspective and Methods of Inquiry
Domain 2: Social Structure: Culture, Institutions, and Society
Domain 3: Social Relationships: Self, Groups, and
Domain 4: Stratification and Inequality
The sessions were facilitated by ASA’s High School Sociology Planning Program Team—Hayley Lotspeich, Chris Salituro, Margaret Weigers Vitullo, Beth Floyd, and Jean H. Shin. This team was joined by Dennis R. McSeveney, Professor Emeritus at the University of New Orleans. McSeveney drew on stories and images from his experience of living through Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath to demonstrate how the four domains and the concepts within them can be brought to life for students by applying them to a specific compelling example.
“It was an invigorating experience sharing a room with people who are so passionate about teaching sociology at the high school level,” said Lotspeich. “Now teachers have a set of national standards giving the study of sociology the same legitimacy that the other courses in their high schools’ social studies department already enjoy. With a set of new national standards, the ASA High School listserv, and a consistent presence at the NCSS Annual Conference, multiple frameworks now exist for professional exchange and curricular development to occur.Teachers now have a set of foundational concepts that they can cultivate and build upon. This common focus in developing the sociological perspective will also afford our students essential understandings that will enhance their future. It is so exciting to see ASA help to create and support a community of effective and passionate high school teachers who are committed to their continued professional growth.”
“It was a privilege to work with the ASA team to not only create the standards but also to present teaching strategies,” said Salituro. “Each of the four symposium sessions was carefully crafted with a mix of general resources, specific lesson plans, and a content connection to the city of New Orleans. It was also great to see so many returning teachers who have been to our NCSS sessions in the past. And, it was an honor to hear their appreciation for the resources and ideas we provided. I am hopeful that the standards will provide a strong foundation for the continued development of high school sociology.”
Print copies of the National Standards for High School Sociology document are available in the ASA Bookstore, and it is also available as a free PDF download on the ASA high school website at www.asanet.org/teaching/highschool.cfm.
The ASA High School Teachers promotion package for 2016 includes subscriptions to both Contexts and TRAILS—for a membership cost of $65. Additionally, the ASA High School listserv currently has more than 300 subscribers and has become an active forum for comments and suggestions on teaching sociology in high schools and related topics. For more information about high school sociology, the listserv, joining ASA as a high school teacher, and materials related to NCSS, visit www.asanet.org/HighSchool.cfm.