Writing a Winning Proposal

As you consider submitting a proposal for the next CCSS conference, think about what a winning entry looks like from the viewpoints of a proposal reviewer and conference attendee.

Audience Level: Whom do you want to attract?

Proposals are needed at all levels from pre-K to supervisory. Make sure you select the appropriate audience for your presentation on the proposal form. Your choice will be listed in the conference program so attendees can easily find presentations that match their responsibilities.

Discipline: Have you anchored your presentation in a content area? Again, this will help attendees find the right session that matches their interest and responsibilities.

All proposals, including those that explore content, teaching strategies, technology and pedagogy, should be grounded in one of the social studies content areas. Even those focused on a general methodology should be linked to a discipline to show how the strategy works in a classroom setting. Your discipline choice will also be listed in the conference  program so that attendees can find presentations related to their content specialties.

The Title: Is it an attention grabber?

You have 10 words to create a catchy title that draws attention to what you have to say. Use them well!

  • What conference attendees look for: In this title "Stressed-Out Teacher Guide to Classroom Projects,” the word stressed jumps off the page and already you are intrigued. In contrast, the same presentation titled “Using Projects in the Secondary Classroom,” sounds boring.
  • What the reviewer looks for:
    • Is the title interesting and informative?
    • Does it adhere to the 10-word limit?

Session Description: Does it hook the reader?

Your session description is your opportunity to engage your audience. You have 60 words. Make them count!

  • Focus your description on what attendees will gain from your presentation. Examples: Primary sources. Inclusion techniques. Research-based teaching strategies. Ready-to-use lessons. These are always a draw for classroom teachers.
  • Make sure your session description is clear and concise, and adheres to the 60 word limit?

Objectives, Skills and Strategies: What are your intentions?

There are no word limits here, so write as much as you need to explain what you plan to do. Only reviewers see this part of your proposal. What the reviewer looks for:

  • Are the objectives specific and realistic?
  • Do the descriptions of skills and strategies indicate what will happen during the presentation? 
  • Does the quality of your ideas and descriptions inspire confidence?
  • Does the proposal make the reviewer want to attend the presentation?

Notice how the use of bullet points here succinctly communicates what is expected. Your proposal will be easier to read and review if you use this format.

Before you Submit: Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Have you done a word count to make sure the title and the description are the correct length? Every word and number counts, no matter how small.
  • Have you checked your spelling, grammar, capitalization and punctuation? You would be amazed how often this is overlooked.
  • Have you read the proposal out loud? Sometimes hearing it helps to pick up incorrect usage.
  • Have you asked a colleague to review your proposal? A second set of eyes is always helpful.


Once submitted, you will receive an email confirmation. The proposal review and selection process will take place in August and acceptance notifications will go out in September/October. Good Luck! 
California Council for the Social Studies
Serving K-16 Educators Statewide
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