Skip to main content

NCSS opens windows on the world — and especially Canada – at its Annual Conference in Seattle

Brenda Ball, Joy Kogawa and Tina Storer
From left to right: Brenda Ball (B.C.S.S.T.A. Board Member and Social Studies Chair at Crofton House School – Vancouver, BC); Joy Kogawa (renowned author of the award-winning novel Obasan); and Tina Storer (Conference Co-Chair and WWU Center for Canadian-American Studies’ Education and Curriculum Specialist) at Kogawa’s “Conversation with an Author” session.

December 31, 2012

Originally posted: December 2012

The 92nd Annual National Council for the Social Studies Conference in Seattle last month was simply an outstanding professional development opportunity for the 3500 plus educators who attended the more than 400 sessions, poster presentations, clinics and workshops that were offered. It was my honor to be selected by NCSS leaders two years ago as a co-chair to ensure participation by Canadians in the region and inclusion of content connected to Canada in the conference program.

Although our NRC has worked with NCSS before to increase the profile for Canada among social studies educators, no conference has provided so many opportunities! Almost 700 educators at the conference gained new knowledge about Canada directly through professional development sessions and meetings. Indeed, almost everyone was impacted by the effort when attendance at all thirty-four Canada-related events is considered (including a shared NRCs on Canada exhibit and receptions/scholarships supported by Canadian sponsors). All told, there were 27 Canadians, 3 Canadians who reside in the US, and 8 Americans who presented on Canada at NCSS 2012. It was wonderful learning from them all and to meet so many others from across Canada!


Current NCSS President, John Moore, welcoming the 3500+ social studies educators in attendance to the conference in Seattle.

To advocate for greater inclusion of Canada in U.S. classrooms, the two NRCs collaboratively presented “Canada and the American Curriculum: A National Approach to Canadian Studies” to the Council of State Social Studies Specialists (CS4). This presentation stands out from the rest because it holds great potential impact for curricular reform since state leaders nationwide are currently determining next steps for the revision and/or adoption of Common Core Standards and the soon-to-be-released C3 Frameworks for the Social Studies.

Most importantly, I must acknowledge and thank two local teacher associates who performed outreach on my behalf at the NRCs on Canada exhibit booth when my own duties called me elsewhere. Carol Gnojewski and Kindra Kilgore, both teachers in Monroe, WA, hosted the exhibite and performed outreach by sharing K-12 STUDY CANADA resources with all who stopped by to learn more about Canada. They helped to recruit more than 350 educators as new members of the “Canada Listserv” who will receive emails from me every second month with tips and ideas for teaching about Canada. The new contacts represent 43 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, 4 provinces in Canada, and 6 other countries (China, Hong Kong, Hungary, Korea, Singapore, UK). These figures show just how effective the conference theme, “Opening Windows on the World”, was for Canadian Studies!Some of the other Canada-focused sessions are featured elsewhere in this newsletter but I would like to express my gratitude now to Nadine Fabbi for coordinating a pre-conference clinic focused on the Arctic as well to Betsy Arntzen and Amy Sotherden, our colleagues at the Northeast NRC on Canada, as well as members of the NCSS Canada Community, like Ruth Writer, who personally and professionally supported the initiative. Several Canadian colleagues like Brenda Ball (Crofton House School –Vancouver, BC), Adam Woelders (Trinity Western University – Langley, BC), and Mike Perry-Whittingham (McMath Secondary School – Richmond, BC) worked diligently on the northern side of the border to support the effort as well!