Being that my school year is a few weeks in coming, I still have time to pontificate at length (as opposed to pontificating at shorter length).
If you’re in a district like mine, especially one that has sipped deep in the Kool-Aid of balanced literacy and the Lucy Calkins’ Writers Workshop, you’ll be given (or asked to derive) a curriculum map detailing the skills and content to be taught over the course of the year. Social studies will need to be woven in somehow, as the hot topic of the day is making everything “interdisciplinary.” Otherwise, some districts have multiple maps for each subject.
Furthermore, the administrators will be nagging you from the first week about getting student work on your bulletin boards. Now, I have my own opinion on bulletin boards, but far be it from me to get my fellow teachers fired over my bullshit. If the boss makes you do one, do it (preferably in social studies, as that’ll make us very happy.)
One of the components of your board—and definitely your curriculum map—will undoubtedly be standards, the benchmarks and guidelines that define student learning in your school, district or state. Never mind that standards aren’t necessarily made with any rhyme or reason—it shows you’re following what the bosses want, makes the adminstrators happy, and shows the students that your methods and content were not derived in an insane asylum, but from a central state policymaking body (similar to an insane asylum).
If you’re in a panic that you can’t find your set of standards in the pile of pattern blocks and assessment binders, fear not. We here in the Neighborhood have compiled resources that have all kinds of social studies standards at your fingertips—even national ones you can use to impress (or insult) your colleagues.
National History Education Clearinghouse Standards Database – Like most of us, I have state standards that need to be addressed; standards that differ from each area of the country. Until we adopt a national standard for history and social studies, we’ll still need these. NHEC has compiled all state standards into a searchable database by grade and state.
New York City Social Studies Scope and Sequence – A couple of years ago, New York City took the state standards and created a sequential curriculum framework for city teachers in social studies. It isn’t perfect, as a very early post of mine shows. However, if you need to do long-term planning, this can definitely provide a template (even if you don’t teach in NYC)
National History Standards – National Center for History in the Schools at UCLA – Back in 1994, the NCHS, with our friend Gary Nash at the help, created among the first national standards for history. Divided into two main strands (K-4 and 5-12), these standards systematically cover the content and skills needed for both United States and world history. Emphasize on the Historical Thinking Standards, which stress higher-order thinking skills that students need in all subjects, not just social studies.
National Council for the Social Studies Curriculum Standards – I only included the introduction because NCSS makes you pay for the whole book (see if your principal or AP has a copy). These NCSS standards are based on ten thematic strands meant to flex with any state basket of content or skill requirements. I would use these more often to complement, not replace, your own state standards (I’d probably do the same with the NCHS standards mentioned before). I’ve also attached a copy of their Teacher Standards for your convenience.
Common Core State Standards Initiative – The Core Standards initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Their goal is adopting common standards in reading and math for all 50 states. Many states have already aligned their own standards to the Core Standards. They tend to be more of the “interdisciplinary” type and not necessarily strictly about social studies.
NCSS Effort to Establish Common Core Standards in Social Studies – these aren’t standards, per se, but rather some information about the NCSS working with the Common Core people to create common standards in social studies for each state. Personally, I don’t think it’ll work, but kudos to them for trying.
Best of luck with these, and send me pictures of your best social studies bulletin boards. Who knows, they just might make it on the Neighborhood in the future!