NERC Virtual 2020

Preparing Students to Hold the Office of Citizen

Due to a variety of “unknowns” about returning to school this coming fall stemming from the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies (Mass Council) made the difficult but necessary decision to postpone the 50th Northeast Regional Conference for the Social Studies (NERC50) until the 2021-2022 school year. 

In lieu of a conference at the Cape Codder Resort and Spa this October, Mass Council will offer a virtual conference experience (NERCVirtual) for K-12 social studies teachers throughout the northeastern United States and beyond. Presenters who were initially slated to run their workshops at NERC50 have been invited to present virtually this fall or present at our next on-site conference in the following year. Other state councils that are part of the NERC Network are also provided the opportunity to offer their virtual professional development workshops as part of NERCVirtual.

The NERCVirtual Conference will kick off on the weekend of October 4-5, 2020 with a live online general keynote session, where conference attendees can watch, participate, and engage with the keynote speaker (to be determined) through the live web conferencing platform, such as Google Meet, Skype, WebEx, or Zoom. The weekend will also present a number of live sessions to K-12 classroom teachers. A master schedule of events will come out sometime in September.

Mass Council has identified major themes for the 2020-2021 school year:

  1. The U.S. Presidential Election of 2020. Recent U.S. presidential elections have been groundbreaking and historic, but the upcoming 2020 presidential election has already been considered—by many—as the most consequential and contentious in our lifetime. We are looking for PD opportunities to help guide social studies teachers on enriching instruction on the complicated political issues that are defining our present-day national political discourse and the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
  2. A History of Protests. Protests have been one of the cornerstones of American democracy long before the establishment of the United States of America under the Constitution and Bill of Right, and it is arguably protected under the First Amendment, provided that protest is peaceful and lawful by obtaining permits. That said, exceptions have been made when protestors gather in response to breaking news, such as the recent Black Lives Matter protests happening across the nation in response to the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers. We are looking for PD opportunities to focus on the historical significance and importance of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and the power of the American people to exercise their rights to peacefully assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
  3. Under-represented Voices in American History. Over the course of the history of the United States, “We” in “We the People…” have expanded beyond white male property land owners, but we still have so much work to do to achieve equal justice and protection under the law. We are looking for PD opportunities to enrich curriculum and instruction to include under-represented groups in our history curriculum. Once students realize that the United States was established and developed by women and men of all races, not just white, they can better identify themselves and each other as members of the American populace. Students of color will see the United States as their country too. Not only is this important to students of color, but it is equally if not more important for white students to realize this as well.
  4. Preparing Students to Hold “The Office of Citizen.” Social Studies is a large academic field that includes history, geography, economics, civics and government, archaeology, and the behavioral sciences such as psychology and sociology. Social Studies is intended to prepare students to hold the “Office of Citizen” and is essential for responsible citizenship in areas such as history and government, geography, economics, sociology, and communication. Social Studies creates opportunities for students to apply critical thinking and content knowledge to analyze information on complex issues and to seek solutions to real-world problems.

There are three main types of a virtual conference experience:

A webinar is an online seminar or presentation. Teacher participants can engage/interact with the presenter or presenters in real time through a web conferencing or video conferencing platform such as Google Meet, Cisco WebEx, Skype, or Zoom. Exhibitors may also be interested in running a webinar to introduce their services and products and provide teachers temporary access and explore during a trial period. Teachers will receive a certificate of attendance and participation. The webinars will premier during the NERCVirtual conference on October 4-5, 2020.

A workshop is a brief, intensive program for a relatively small group of teachers that focuses on particular content, techniques, and/or skills. Workshops generally run an hour or as long as three (3) hours. The presentation is prepared in advance or pre-recorded and made available on the Mass Council website for teachers to access and participate at their convenience. Teachers will receive a certificate of attendance and participation.

A master class is taught by someone who has an expert level of knowledge or skill in a particular content, field, or area. The instructor delivers a series of lessons, modules or sessions (prepared in advance) regularly over a period of time; typically on a weekly basis. Interaction between teacher participants and presenter or presenters is primarily through asynchronous discussion board and written assignments. Master classes can include non-mandatory live sessions, which can be archived for participants who are unable to participate live. Teacher participants typically must complete assignments and/or a final product for professional development points (PDPs) or credit.


Interested in participating?

Please complete the form below:
    NERCVirtual will be live broadcasting virtual conference sessions on October 4 and 5, 2020.

  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
    Please select between October 4, 2020 and May 15, 2021.
  • Date Format: MM slash DD slash YYYY
    If you are planning a webinar or workshop, your presentation will be archived and shall be made available and accessible to participants until the end date.
  • :
  • Participants will receive a certificate of attendance or certificate of completion based on the number of hours of your presentation.
  • Please describe the product or service, and indicate the length of the trial period (if any).

  • Please note: the final session must take place no later than May 15, 2021.
  • Please describe general assignments for each session or module, and final assessment or project for participates to earn credit.
    If no graduate credits are issued, participants will earn Massachusetts Professional Development Points (PDPs) for a nominal cost.
  • Please be sure to indicate institution, number of credits, registration details, and tuition cost.