Social Studies

  • Purpose

    Teachers engage students in the authentic work of the discipline of history and the social sciences, using habits of mind and processes of published, expert historians and social scientists. Teachers provide direct instruction in these habits of mind and literate processes and engage students in work that reflects what historians and social scientists do.


    Students engage in an inquiry and analysis process with primary and secondary sources, and are active thinkers and meaning makers with historical and social science texts and concepts. Students spend a significant portion of time engaged in close reading of grade-level text, text-based writing, and discussion of primary and secondary sources. Reading, writing, and speaking/listening tasks engage students in working with complex texts and content in ways that reflect high cognitive demand as defined in the Common Core State Standards.

    Curriculum & Pedagogy

    Instruction reflects research-based best practices for the teaching of history/social studies and disciplinary literacy, including the use of an inquiry method and structures for accountable talk (including partner talk and structured academic controversies). Instruction aims to improve students’ understanding of content and their performance of historical/social scientific literacy skills within a gradual release of responsibility framework.

    Instruction reflects a comprehensive understanding of the reading and writing processes valued in history/ social studies and deep knowledge of central concepts, information and controversies in the field as defined by Common Core Standards and state and national content standards. Students read and write historical and social science texts across a range of narrative, expository, and argumentative modes and in a variety of media forms. Resources include: seminal historical documents, first person historical accounts, audio recordings of speeches and other oral texts, documentaries, maps, art and visual images (such as political cartoons), and data represented in a variety of quantitative and qualitative forms (e.g., charts, graphs, data tables, survey results).


    Teachers use a range of balanced assessments to develop a comprehensive understanding of each student’s skills, strengths, and needs as a reader, writer and thinker in history and social studies. Assessments emphasize students’ discussion and writing to represent their thinking and analysis of historical content and ideas. Students write research, expository, narrative, and argumentative texts to reflect their understanding of the content, concepts, and thinking skills of the discipline.

    Instruction is delivered within units of study organized by historical/social science concepts, essential questions, and/or historical reading and thinking skills. Rubrics are used to assess students’ formative development and summative performance of specific standards within and across units.

    Classroom Environment & Culture

    The teacher establishes a classroom community in which students can engage in an inquiry process and take risks in their reading, writing, and thinking about history/social studies. Students spend substantive time on text- and media-based engagement and discussion of the ideas and content of primary and secondary sources. Every student participates daily in accountable talk with classmates (including partner talk, small group discussion, and/or structured academic controversies), actively using evidence to anchor and develop their ideas and understandings. The environment is responsive to students’ diverse backgrounds, interests, and academic abilities.

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Last Modified on August 27, 2021