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SOCIAL STUDIES. What we Teach, Why we Teach It. Why History Matters….

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social studies


What we Teach,

Why we Teach It

why history matters
Why History Matters…
  • "Memory is what makes us who we are.  If we lost all of our memory whenever we fell asleep at night, it would be the same as if we died and a new person woke up in our body the next morning. History is the memory of a nation."

Thomas Sowell, "The Vision of the Anointed."

what we teach history and the social sciences
What We Teach: History and the Social Sciences
  • Social sciences include history as well as geography, economics, psychology, anthropology, political science/civics and sociology
  • Diversity of curriculum develops a broad spectrum of learning
why we teach it or why study the social sciences
Why We Teach It, orWhy Study the Social Sciences?
  • To understand people and societies
  • To understand change and how the society we live in came to be
  • To understand the importance of history in our own lives
  • To understand how history contributes to moral understanding
why study social sciences continued
Why Study Social Sciences? (continued)
  • To provide identity—cultural literacy: a shared history that is assumed all already know.
  • To become responsible citizens
why study social sciences continued6
Why Study Social Sciences?(continued)
  • To develop essential skills
    • Critical thinking
    • Questioning
    • Making connections
    • Adapting to new situations
  • To succeed in the world of work
what do our 17 year olds know
What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know?
  • Intercollegiate Studies Institute (non-profit) gave students at 25 selective colleges a civic literacy test
    • Freshman scored 56.6%
    • Seniors scored 59.4%
    • Harvard seniors 69.6%--passing?
    • Less than half of college seniors knew that NATO was formed to resist Soviet expansion.
it s not your parents social studies class
It’s Not your Parents’ Social Studies class
  • Schools used to emphasize solely the memorization of facts.
  • Today the emphasis is on skills (concepts, connections and application) because of the concern that students in the U.S. are leaving high school without the necessary skills to function in higher education and the workforce in order to be globally competitive.
however content is just as necessary because
However, content is just as necessary because:
  • it provides context and perspective for new learning
  • it helps us reconcile time and space
  • some is essential to build a framework for skill development
  • skills without facts result in knowledge gaps
our focus is on essential questions
Our Focus is on Essential Questions
  • Essential Questions are questions that:
    • get students to think
    • do not have a “right” answer
    • can be debated
    • point to big ideas
    • help students make sense of difficult concepts

Example: What does it mean to be an American?

how are we preparing our students for the 21 st century
How are we preparing our students for the 21st century?
  • What skills are needed?
  • What skills are we teaching?
  • How are students responding?
  • Are our methods working?
  • Are they learning?
in other words the skills needed in the 21 st century are
In Other Words, the skills needed in the 21st Century are:
  • Creativity and innovation
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Information literacy
  • Media literacy
21 st century skills continued
21st Century Skills (continued)
  • Information and Communication Technology literacy
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Initiative and self-direction
  • Social and cross-cultural skills
  • Productivity and accountability
  • Leadership and responsibility
new jersey state standards for social studies
New Jersey State Standardsfor Social Studies
  • Social Studies Skills
  • Civics
  • World History
  • United States / New Jersey History
  • Economics
  • Geography
our curriculum elementary school
  • Kindergarten: Belonging and Family
  • Grade 1: Belonging and Neighborhoods
  • Grade 2: Belonging and Communities/ Citizenship
  • Grade 3: Lenape/Ethnic Heritage/


  • Grade 4: Colonization/American Revolution/Government (U.S. & NJ)
  • Grade 5: 5 Themes of Geography/Ancient Civilizations
essential questions grades 1 5
Essential Questions, Grades 1-5
  • What is family? How can differences bring people together?
  • How do communities meet the needs of its members?
  • What are the elements of Lenape culture?
  • How does the movement of people affect others and the physical environment around them?
  • How does geography impact humans? How do humans impact geography?
5 th grade task
5th Grade Task
  • Person of Positive Achievement
    • Talk about the characteristics of such a person
    • Decide by consensus on a list of about 6
    • Read “around the topic”
    • Pick a person to study to research
    • Use online and reference materials
    • Take notes
    • Cite sources
    • Write a 3-5 paragraph essay explaining why the person chosen meets the criteria
    • Word process the document
our curriculum middle school
Our Curriculum:MIDDLE SCHOOL
  • Grade 6
    • World History
      • Topics: Geography / Birth of Civilization / Early Societies
  • Grades 7 and 8
    • “A” Year (Social Sciences): Civics
    • “B” Year (US History, 1600 - 1870: United States History, Colonization through Reconstruction
essential questions grade 6
Essential Questions, Grade 6
  • Why are the legacies of one society important to another society?
  • How does the culture of a society influence its development?
  • What happens when cultures collide?
  • Is government essential in a society?
  • What causes a society to want to expand?
6 th grade research task
6th Grade Research Task
  • Museum exhibit
    • Choose a society that has had a significant impact on the world
    • Research the society and a specific person, event or development
    • Write an essay
    • Construct a physical artifact/model
    • Create a multimedia presentation
essential questions grades 7 8 a social sciences
Essential Questions Grades 7/8 A (Social Sciences)
  • How does government affect human development?
  • Is any political system the best?
  • How does a nation’s government affect its relations with its citizens and the rest of the world?
  • How is wealth distributed among individuals and nations?
  • How does the use and distribution of available resources affect people’s lives?
essential questions grades 7 8 b u s history
Essential Questions Grades 7/8 B (U.S. History)
  • Can different cultures blend and appreciate each other?
  • How does where you live effect how you live?
  • Why do people revolt?
  • How do governments balance the common good and individual rights?
  • Is compromise the best solution to solve conflict?
  • What qualities make an effective leader?
7 th 8 th grade research task
7th/8th Grade Research Task
  • Examine 10 significant events in world or U.S. history
  • Choose one event to explore in more depth
  • Locate 2 additional sources, take notes, develop a thesis and write a 5-paragraph research paper
  • Math connection: collect data, place it in a spreadsheet and create a chart or graph to present to peers in science class
our curriculum high school
Our Curriculum:High School
  • *Grade 9: Government & Economics
  • *Grade 10: United States History
  • *Grade 11: Global Studies
  • Grades 11 & 12: many choices of electives
  • *Required for graduation
essential questions grade 9 government economics
Essential Questions Grade 9 (Government & Economics)
  • Does any one form of government best protect the rights of the individuals?
  • What role should government play in balancing the needs of individuals versus the needs of the community?
  • Does the government have the responsibility to protect the rights of all people?
  • Can there be a truly “free” economy?
  • What role should government play in the distribution of wealth?
essential questions grade 10 u s history
Essential Questions Grade 10 (U.S. History)
  • How does war impact society and the individuals involved in war? What can be learned from war?
  • How does the global community affect the U.S?
  • How did the U.S. government expand its involvement in the economy during the 1930s?
  • How does propaganda influence people’s opinions and actions?
  • What was and is the role of the U.S. in the world?
essential questions grade 11 global studies
Essential Questions Grade 11(Global Studies)
  • How has the spread of religion shaped our world?
  • Why are regions of the world interdependent?
  • Is it possible for China to maintain a more open economy in a society that is still closed politically?
  • What does the rise of India mean for the rest of the world?
  • How is globalization changing the face of South Asia?
  • How has Russia’s failure to develop a vibrant economic system caused a cycle of reform and repression in Russian political life?
  • In grades 11 & 12, students may choose from the following electives. Currently there are 923 students enrolled in social studies electives at SBHS:
    • Holocaust & Genocide
    • Race, Class & Gender
    • American Justice
    • Sociology
    • Anthropology
    • IPLE
    • The Vietnam Era
    • Psychology
more electives
More Electives
  • Students may also choose from the following Advanced Placement courses, provided they meet the prerequisites:
    • European History
    • U.S. History
    • U.S. Government
    • Comparative Governments
    • Psychology
co curricular activities
Co-curricular activities
  • The following clubs and activities related to the social studies are offered at the high school:
    • Psychology Club
    • Military Education Club
    • Model UN
    • Dead Presidents Society (history club)
    • Phi Alpha Theta (history honor society)
so your child wants to major in social studies
So, Your Child Wants to Major in Social Studies?
  • What can you do with a major in history/social studies?
    • Become an educator
    • Become a writer/editor/journalist
    • Become a librarian/archivist/museum curator/historic preservationist
    • Become a lawyer or paralegal
    • Become a psychologist
    • Work for a non-profit organization
    • These are just a few of the opportunities available
how does social studies apply outside the classroom
How Does Social Studies Apply Outside the Classroom?
  • It provides knowledge and understanding and the ability to think, adapt and question
  • It educates people for citizenship “in a multicultural, democratic society” (Star Ledger Sept ’08)—E pluribus unum: out of many, one

“And if we think them (the people) not enlightened enough, the remedy is to inform them by education.”

~Thomas Jefferson

what does this all mean
What does this all mean?
  • “If we dedicate ourselves to studying our history rightly, if we take the time to look at the entirety of our firmament, we will see what our Founders saw we could be, what foreigners who came here saw all along, and what we ourselves can—even today—see once again.”

--William J. Bennett

where can you find it
Where can you find it?
  • In your own backyard: resources for discovering our local history—a presentation
  • American Historical Association
  • Equipped for the Future Content Standards
  • National Council for the Social Studies
  • The History Channel
  • Nicole Pormilli
  • Janet Gleim

  • Tim Wright

  • Corie Gaylord