Brian Rock
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  • Newark, NJ
  • United States
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Brian Rock added a discussion to the group Video in the Classroom

Use C-SPAN's StudentCam Competition to Incorporate Video Into Civics

If you're into using video in the classroom and you're looking to incorporate more civics into your social studies class, you should check out C-SPAN's StudentCam competition. In this competition, students create a short (5-7 minute) documentary about the year's theme. This year, the theme is what does one part of the Constitution mean to you. In past years, it's been things like "What's one thing you want Congress to focus on?" and "What's one thing you think the Presidential candidates should focus on?"As part of the project, students need to combine a) knowledge of civics, b) information form the C-SPAN video archive, and c) original interviews and film making into a coherent documentary. It's a pretty high level project, and when I watch the winners I'm always impressed that these were created by middle and high school kids.Oh, and there are cash prizes. Just an added bonus…See More
Dec 19, 2017
Brian Rock added a discussion to the group Professional Development

The Best PD Is Active PD

A couple weeks ago, I facilitated a PD workshop at the NJEA Convention. I was teaching a group of mostly high school social studies teachers about the resources that C-SPAN offers for them to incorporate civics into their classes. I modeled a C-SPAN lesson about a controversial issue (gun control), and the participants experienced it more or less exactly like the students would. At the end, they even participated in a mock Congressional hearing as a summative activity. The first time I presented this workshop several years ago, I did a lot more talking - trying to cover all of the resources that C-SPAN offers. But I found over time that participants enjoyed it much more - and learned more - by just experiencing it. So now I keep the talking part to a minimum (10 minutes up front, 5 minutes on the back-end), and the bulk of a 90 minute workshop is devoted to the participants actually doing…See More
Nov 28, 2017
Brian Rock added a discussion to the group Connecting Content and Technology

Using the C-SPAN Video Archive to Teach Controversial Issues

C-SPAN provides all of their content available for streaming on their website in a video archive. You can search in a variety of ways, there are transcripts of most recording for reading along, and you can create short video clips of anything you find there. C-SPAN's Classroom Deliberations are lesson plans and resource sets that help narrow the massive amount of content down to a manageable amount. Using these lesson plans or the video archive in general can be an interesting way to combine social studies, civics, and technology. It's content-rich stuff, but the delivery as a video is more appealing to some kids than a reading would be.See More
Nov 28, 2017
Brian Rock added a discussion to the group PBL ~ Better with Practice

PBL and Civics in Hawaii

Hawaii takes a real interesting approach to the social studies curriculum. Hawaii requires four full years of social studies classes for graduation, and one of the required classes in Hawaii is "Participation in Democracy." This class usually, if done right, includes some project based learning like a Civic Action Project, Project Citizen, or something similar. I'm wondering if there are any Hawaii educators out there who could comment on what this looks like, or if there are any other states that have a course structure like this? Here in New Jersey, it's three years of straight history and the content-heavy standards make it a fight to find the time to incorporate more PBL throughout the year.See More
Nov 28, 2017
Brian Rock replied to Steve Hargadon's discussion 2007 Best Web 2.0 Applications For Education
"Ten years later, it's interesting to look back and think about which ones of these are still around... and which aren't. I miss Google Reader, although has done an ok job as a replacement."
Nov 28, 2017
Brian Rock commented on Michelle TeGrootenhuis's blog post Textmapping: Worth the Work! (Teaching Nonfiction Text Features)
"Awesome idea. The features and structure of a text are important, and this looks like a way to make that enjoyable and fun. I wish my high school kids had done this when they were younger."
Nov 28, 2017
Brian Rock commented on Ed Vectus's blog post Two Useful Project Ideas you can use now in your Classroom for Student Engagement
"Guest speakers are also great for incorporating civics and government. There are lots of local officials (city council, mayor, freeholders) who would be happy to stop by and speak to your students for a bit. You can ask them about their day job…"
Oct 24, 2017
Brian Rock commented on Dan Hill's blog post Best Practices for Eduational Blogging
"I don't think my district's acceptable use policy lays out any guidelines for student blogging. Never really thought about it before, but it definitely should. As a rule, I wish they'd open up the internet more and allow people to…"
Oct 24, 2017
Brian Rock commented on Emma Sturgis's blog post How to Unlock Hidden Enthusiasm in Your Students
"I love service learning. It's a great way to tie in good citizenship and civics to other classes."
Oct 24, 2017
Brian Rock commented on Ava Sage's blog post New useful apps for teachers
"Kahoot is fun. I've used it as a review game for my social studies class from time to time. The kids like it."
Oct 24, 2017
Brian Rock commented on Shonda Foster's blog post Grad School
"Good luck! I ended up giving up on my Doctorate because I decided it wasn't worth all of the time I was investing in my dissertation. But my Masters degree (and the additional coursework I did toward my Doctorate) were well worth it."
Oct 24, 2017
Brian Rock commented on Christine Southard's blog post Technology Administrator/Computer Coordinator Questions
"One skillset that I can think of that might be required for an admin but not a computer teacher is network administration. Our computer tech at the school has to handle network issues, managing user log-ins, pushing out updates to computers…"
Oct 24, 2017
Brian Rock commented on Brian Robert Kissman's blog post Essential Questions for Meaningful Conversation - Story Analysis
"Interesting idea. I like using unifying themes and essential questions in my social studies class to relate historical content to civics and government. Never thought about the way that language arts classes could use similar themes and questions to…"
Oct 24, 2017
Brian Rock commented on Amrit Chhetri's blog post Cyber Crimes- The National Threats
"Cyber crime has become an interesting topic for discussion social studies classes recently. With the Russian hacking of the election, it's always coming up in current events and news."
Oct 24, 2017
Brian Rock commented on Rachael Murphey's blog post 5 Things High School Didn't Teach Me (But Should Have)
"Agreed 100% on public speaking. Kids are afraid of it, and too often we don't challenge them to do it. But that's the only way to get comfortable and be better at it. I insist on making my students do some form of speaking or presenting in…"
Oct 24, 2017
Brian Rock commented on Konstantin Kharchenko's blog post Education
"Agreed 100%. My district is obsessed with testing on the computer now, just because it's on a computer and it allows us to create "data." But they aren't concerned with the additional logistical problems this causes (securing…"
Oct 24, 2017

Profile Information

School / Work Affiliation
East Orange Campus High School
Twitter / Plurk / Other Account

I'm a social studies teacher in East Orange. I've taught U.S. History, World History, AP Government and Politics, and Financial Literacy.

I'm a big advocate of civics education, and I write a blog about improving civics education in New Jersey and throughout the United States. The Civic Educator contains a mix of methods, resources, thoughts on education policy, and spotlights of civic educators.

I'm also an active member of my union. I serve as an officer in my local and county associations, and I'm involved at the state level with the New Jersey Education Association and the National Education Association.

In 2013, I had the privilege of working with C-SPAN's Education Department as a Teacher Fellow. I helped the team develop lesson plans and materials for their C-SPAN Classroom website. These were of use to social studies teachers and other civic educators. In 2015, I worked for C-SPAN as a Senior Fellow. In that role, I worked on C-SPAN's Classroom Deliberations projects - a collection of lesson plans on controversial issues that draw on C-SPAN's video archives for source material.

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At 2:15pm on November 29, 2017, Lyvia Osterstock said…

Hi Brian! I'm a current student studying social science education at the University of Nebraska. I was wondering why you chose to join Classroom 2.0 and how it has helped you further your career? 



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