Magazine article Social Studies Review

How Does the New History-Social Science Framework Change Instruction?

Magazine article Social Studies Review

How Does the New History-Social Science Framework Change Instruction?

Article excerpt

How does the new History/Social Science Framework affect elementary teachers?

The best news is that the History-Social Science Standards for Kindergarten to Grade 5 remain the same. With all the turmoil surrounding us in other subject areas, at least our content remains "under the radar" of change.

However, the new H/SS framework offers many new opportunities and challenges for us. The major question is, "What are the expectations for me at my grade level?" First, go to the framework website and

carefully review the chapter for your grade-level (Kindergarten to Grade 5 are found in Chapters 3 through Chapter 8 respectively).

This provides updated grade-level content and discipline-specific strategies. You will find narratives from "real" teachers who relate what they have done in their classroom. These are very useful. You might also review Chapter 2, Instructional Practice for Kindergarten to Grade 5.

One of the biggest changes is the involvement of your students in helping to steer the plan for instruction. What questions would they like to explore?

The new framework encourages teachers to organize their instruction around "compelling questions" and "supporting questions." (Okay, in the past we've had "Focus Questions" and "Essential Questions," now we have "Compelling Questions" and "Supporting Questions.")

For example, a compelling question may be, "Was the American Revolution revolutionary?" A supporting question may be, "What were the regulations imposed on the Colonists under the Townsend Acts?"

The Inquiry Arc of the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards ( provides guidance and support to teachers as they strive for rigorous student learning.

Dimensions of the C3 Framework's Inquiry Arc

1. Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries

2. Applying Disciplinary Concepts and Tools

3. Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence

4. Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action

Questions are your roadmaps. In the elementary grades, they may be both teacher-and studentgenerated as a central part of the teaching and learning process.

Next, students explore and analyze the questions, organize relevant evidence, develop their own interpretations, and take informed action. The framework refers to this process as the "inquiry arc." Varieties of grade-level specific questions are included in the grade level sections of the framework; however, you can reword or tweak them to fit the needs of your students.

If you want some help, the IDM Generator (http://idm.c3teachers.orgl is a platform for teachers to create their own inquiries, share these inquiries with other teachers, and make inquiry assignments for their students to complete.

Finally, plan your assessment. What will the students "do" so that you know they have mastered the standards?

Look at your H/SS standards and the Common Core State Standards for Reading/Language Arts and ELL to help you determine formative and summative assessments. This is also, where you can steer the LCAP assessments for your school/district. Let's coordinate and collaborate with the different assessments so we pull the wagon in the same direction and don't duplicate our efforts - especially with assessment.

Caution: Even though the history/social science (H/SS) content for your grade level is included in your reading series, this is not a substitute for good H/SS instruction. Once you have "covered" a unit in reading, it does not mean that that you have covered all the multitudes of crucial skills in H/SS, including the use of primary sources, the inquiry arc, H/SS analysis skills, etc...

From Theory into Practice:

A Geography Lesson

Geographic inquiry helps us understand and appreciate our place in the world. Where are people and things located? …

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