California's History-Social Science Framework Revisited: A Focus on Implementation Successes
Morin, Joy Ann, Education
"By emphasizing history and geography and offering more in-depth thought-provoking units, California educators hope to enrich students, understanding of our nation and the world." (Alexander and Crabtree, 1988, p. 10). This was the vision embodied in California's new History-Social Science Framework adopted on July 9, 1987- and published in 1988.
Now- seven years later -- it seems appropriate to revisit this framework that has been described by many as a landmark document. California's History-social Science Framework "returns history to the core of the social studies curriculum ... increases the number of years devoted to the study of the United States and world history ... deepens the study of history through the rich use of literature ... and celebrates throughout the multicultural pluralistic nature of American society ..." (Alexander & Crabtree (1988). Throughout these studies three major goals are integrated within the framework: (1) The Goal of Knowledge and Cultural Understanding, (2) The Goal of Democratic Understanding and Civic Values, and (3) The Goal of Skills Attainment and Social Participation.
The new framework embodies ideas dating back to early committees of distinguished university historians and teachers- The Committee of Ten (1892), the Committee of Seven (1899),-and culminates in the national Bradley Committee on History in Schools. The recommendations of these committees "call for a history and geography-centered social studies program for the early grades, emphasizing lively, engaging readings from history, mythology, biography, legend, and literature ...", and lengthens the amount of time students study history in specified grade levels (Gagnon, 1988, p. 38) Even though Paul Gagnon (1988), a noted historian, viewed the new framework as the first attempt to put these ideas into action, he raised questions related to its implementation. He envisioned, a long road to travel before the superb body of learning prescribed by the California Framework is translated into effective daily lessons for the huge and highly varied population in the state's classrooms." (p. 48). This paper focuses on a portion of his questions that include the following: "Will the California framework be successfully implemented? Can its subject matter be well taught without improvement in teacher education ...?" (p. 48). This article addresses these questions -- based on the experiences and observations of an educator of teachers. Frequent classroom visits reveal the successes of experienced teachers as they implement goals sets forth in the California framework, however, the focus of this article is on the successes of new and prospective teachers. A brief discussion outlining the elements necessary for successful framework implementation is followed by a glimpse into selected elementary classrooms.
Elements of Successful
Traditionally, implementation successes have been dependent on the level of program knowledge possessed by those involved, and by the quality of support provided during implementation. Successful implementation of the California History-Social Science Framework is directly related to improvement in teacher education programs. The focus must be on providing prospective teacher with the knowledge skills, and a repertoire of strategies that will enable them to implement those meaningful goals set forth in the state framework. The need for prospective teachers to become knowledgeable about stated framework goals has not gone unheeded. A major mission of large urban universities -- such as California State University, Los Angeles -- is to prepare prospective teachers to meet the needs of a diverse student population. The goals embodied in the current framework are emphasized in teacher preparation courses that focus on the social sciences. As prospective teachers progress through their methods classes, they develop skills in analyzing, developing, applying, and evaluating strategies embodied in the current History-Social Science Framework. The students become actively involved in preparing both short-term and long-term activities during methods classes. These activities include the development of integrated units of study that are presented and critiqued. The subsequent student teaching assignments offer them opportunities to apply this knowledge in the real world of the elementary classroom.
Support Provided During
However, according to John Goodlad (1991), "the most glaring disjuncture between theory and practice occurred at the point when students left campus to engage in their student teaching experiences". The second necessary ingredient for successful framework implementation is certainly the support received in each student teaching environment. That support system includes frequent guidance provided by the university supervisor, and the support provided by the school site personnel during the planning and implementation of state and local goals.
Implementation Practices Observed
Given the necessary elements for successful framework implementation, the major question remains unanswered. Is the California History-Social Science Framework being implemented? The answer is yes! Since its adoption, teachers have been prepared to translate "the superb body of learning prescribed by the California Framework ... into effective daily lessons for the huge and highly varied population in the state's classrooms." (Gagnon p. 48). It is encouraging to observe the vast numbers of teachers implementing ideas embodied in the framework. The following examples win provide a brief glimpse of new teachers implementing idea," based on the California History-Social Science Framework.
Rudy Meza is a teacher at 2nd Street School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He has taken the course work required for the credential at California State University, Los Angeles. He is presently functioning in a 2nd grade bilingual classroom composed of various levels of language proficiency. Rudy Meza consistently provides activities that elicit active student involvement by using the California History-Social Studies Framework as a guide. These learning experiences encourage a great deal of student communication intended to enhance language development. One example is a social studies unit implemented by Mr. Meza that focused on Families and Their Traditions. The activities in this unit were intended to motivate the students to learn about the diverse people that populated Los Angeles-and to develop pride in the contributions of their ancestors. The students were encouraged to read and write about the uniqueness of specific families to help them understand and respect differences in others. The success of this program implementation is due to many variables -- such as the knowledge acquired by Mr. Meza, the content material and strategies that encouraged active student involvement, and the development of student self-steem. The mural-labeled "Shoot for the Stars"-that is proudly displayed at the school -- illustrates the level of encouragement that is provided all students at 2nd Street School.
[The pictures numbered 1-3 on page 532 appear in this article to illustrate the supportive attitude of the school and the classroom.]
This second example features Judy Hoban and her 4th grade class at Imperial School in Pasadena, California. The methods class in which Mrs. Hoban was enrolled at CSULA focused on the development of a social studies unit. The inclusion of diaries, journals, and relevant literature was intended to help students develop a deeper understanding of historical figures and events. Judy Hoban carried this idea into her classroom. She developed a unit of study-focusing on early California-in which the students were motivated to learn about events that contributed to the diverse population in California. The students read relevant literature, participated in dramatic skits, and communicated their ideas through creative writing. These ideas were integrated into other subject areas-such as "digging" for fossils in a replica of the La Brea Tar Pits.
[The pictures #4-6, on page 534 illustrate activities in which the students are involved in learning experiences that consider the goals set forth in the History-social Science Framework.]
This 3rd example features a 5/6 grade combination classroom at Burbank School in Pasadena. During her student teaching assignment, Karen Martinez developed and implemented an integrated unit of study focusing on China. Relevant facts were gleaned through a variety of reading and research experiences. Folk tales were used as the vehicle to facilitate student understanding of cultural practices and traditions. Geography was an integral part of this unit as the student were introduced to ideas related to the early lunar exploration undertaken by the Chinese people. During the implementation of this unit of study, a great deal of support was provided by Steve Beaty-the supervising classroom teacher -- and the staff at Burbank. This provided Mrs. Martinez the guidance and the opportunities to implement the knowledge gleaned from methods classes at CSULA.
[Photographs #7-8, on page 535 are used to illustrate active student involvement at Burbank School.]
The concerns addressed by Paul Gagnon (1988) -- as the California History-Social Science Framework became adopted -- did not go unheeded nor unchallenged. However, the educational community continues to recognize the need to focus on the improvement of teacher education programs that facilitate the implementation of meaningful curriculum. The challenges were summarized by Dr. Allen Mori (Dean, School of Education, CSULA) in the following statement: "The educational challenges are complex and revolve around the creation and implementation of a curriculum that embraces diversity and uses the cultural background of the children to enhance their educational experiences." (1994). The California History-Social Science Framework embodies these challenges as well. The effective implementation of the framework, and the successes of new teachers are encouraging as we continue to face challenges that require the implementation of meaningful learning experiences for our diverse student population.
The examples provided in this paper are not isolated instances of successful implementation of the California History-Social Science Framework. These examples illustrate successes that share specific commonalities. In general, teachers who have successfully implemented the California History-Social Science Framework are those who:
* are knowledgeable about the content and goals set forth in the framework, and
* have support while they plan and implement those goals into meaningful instructional activities.
The examples illustrated in this paper identify teacher knowledge and support as the major elements necessary for successful implementation of goals prescribed in the California framework. Because teacher preparation is a major factor in the successful implementation of programs in classrooms, prospective teachers must leave campus with the necessary knowledge base, and a repertoire of strategies and skills. However, equally important is the need for a continued support system as programs are planned and implemented that meet the diverse needs of our student population. The successes illustrated in this paper provide the hope that implementation of the goals embodied in the California History-Social Science Framework will become more widespread. This hope lies in the success of university and school collaborative efforts that provide the necessary knowledge and continued support as prospective teachers leave the university classroom to function in the realities of the elementary classroom.
Alexander, Francie, & Crabtree, Charlotte (September, 1988). "California's New History-Social Science Curriculum Promises Richness and Depth", Educational Leadership, 46(1).
California State Board of Education (1988). History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, Kindergarten through Grade Twelve, Sacramento: California State Department of Education.
Gagnon, Paul (Fall, 1988), "Turning Point for social Studies Reform?" American Educator, 12, American federation of Teachers.
Mori, Allen, A. (1994-1995). "Diversity in the Teacher Workforce: Challenges add Opportunities". National Forum of Teacher Education Journal, & 4(1) Los Angeles: CSULA.…
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: California's History-Social Science Framework Revisited: A Focus on Implementation Successes. Contributors: Morin, Joy Ann - Author. Journal title: Education. Volume: 115. Issue: 4 Publication date: Summer 1995. Page number: 530+. © 1999 Project Innovation. COPYRIGHT 1995 Gale Group.