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The Teaching & Learning of History/Social Science

ancient map of the world

History Social-Science Framework

Instructional shifts include a focus on Content, Inquiry, Literacy and Civics.  Instruction should integrate compelling questions that drive instruction and learning, supports literacy with intentionally integrated language art instruction, and includes understanding civic rights and responsibilities, and taking informed civic action.  In conjunction with content standards, student instruction will include these shifts to better engage students in relevant history-social science curriculum.

History-Social Science Framework

California K-8 History Standards

National History Framework - C3 (College, Career, and Civic Life Framework)

Jennifer Loftus
Director of Teaching & Learning


Karen Mackley
Teacher on Special Assignment

State Assessment

Currently History-Social Science is not specifically or exclusively tested on the SBAC.  Note though, that a major portion of the ELA SBAC test is based on history text and content. Content understanding increases students overall literacy abilities, making positive test outcomes a critical reason why students must have History-Social Science instruction.  

SMBSD Assessment

History-Social Science is not currently tested at the district level. In classrooms, students will be assessed on content standards, Historical Analysis Skills, and Literacy Standards. Short formative assessments take place throughout units and students are given summative assessments at the end of chapters or units.

The framework specifically calls for the integration of the following four disciplines: History, Geography, Economy, and Civics.  Each of these disciplines informs our students of the past and the present, helping to build a broad understanding of community, from the local community to the global community. The following selections from the Calif History Framework (ch 1) and the National Council of Social Studies framework (C3) help paint a picture of each discipline, and how each are important for student learning, emphasize multiple perspectives, use primary sources, and allow students to engage in inquiry in authentic and relevant ways.



Historical thinking requires understanding and evaluating change and continuity over time, and making appropriate use of historical evidence in answering questions and developing arguments about the past. . . . It involves locating and assessing historical sources of many different types to understand the contexts of given historical eras and the perspectives of different individuals and groups within geographic units that range from the local to the global. Historical thinking is a process of chronological reasoning, which means wrestling with issues of causality, connections, significance, and context with the goal of developing credible explanations of historical events and developments based on reasoned interpretation of evidence.

Historical inquiry involves acquiring knowledge about significant events, developments, individuals, groups, documents, places, and ideas to support investigations about the past. Acquiring relevant knowledge requires assembling information from a wide variety of sources in an integrative process. Students might begin with key events or individuals introduced by the teacher or identified by educational leaders at the state level, and then investigate them further. Or they might take a source from a seemingly insignificant individual and make connections between that person and larger events, or trace the person’s contributions to a major development. Scholars, teachers, and students form an understanding of what is and what is not significant from the emergence of new sources, from current events, from their locale, and from asking questions about changes that affected large numbers of people in the past or had enduring consequences. Developing historical knowledge in connection with historical investigations not only helps students remember the content better because it has meaning, but also allows students to become better thinkers.

(History-Social Science Framework, Ch.1)



In a constitutional democracy, productive civic engagement requires knowledge of the history, principles, and foundations of our American democracy, and the ability to participate in civic and democratic processes. People demonstrate civic engagement when they address public problems individually and collaboratively and when they maintain, strengthen, and improve communities and societies. Thus, civics is, in part, the study of how people participate in governing society. Because government is a means for addressing common or public problems, the political system established by the U.S. Constitution is an important subject of study within civics.

Civics requires other knowledge too; students should also learn about state and local governments; markets; courts and legal systems; civil society; other nations’ systems and practices; international institutions; and the techniques available to citizens for preserving and changing a society. Civics is not limited to the study of politics and society; it also encompasses participation in classrooms and schools, neighborhoods, groups, and organizations. . . . What defines civic virtue, which democratic principles apply in given situations, and when discussions are deliberative are not easy questions, but they are topics for inquiry and reflection. In civics, students learn to contribute appropriately to public processes and discussions of real issues. Their contributions to public discussions may take many forms, ranging from personal testimony to abstract arguments. They will also learn civic practices such as voting, volunteering, jury service, and joining with others to improve society. Civics enables students not only to study how others participate, but also to practice participating and taking informed action themselves.

(History-Social Science Framework, Ch. 1)



Geographic reasoning requires using spatial and environmental perspectives, skills in asking and answering questions, and being able to apply geographic representations including maps, imagery, and geospatial technologies. A spatial perspective is about whereness. Where are people and things located? Why there? What are the consequences? An environmental perspective views people as living in interdependent relationships within diverse environments. Thinking geographically requires knowing that the world is a set of complex ecosystems interacting at multiple scales that structure the spatial patterns and processes that influence our daily lives. Geographic reasoning brings societies and nature under the lens of spatial analysis, and aids in personal and societal decision making and problem solving.

(History-Social Science Framework, Ch. 1)



“Effective economic decision-making requires that students have a keen understanding of the ways in which individuals, businesses, governments, and societies make decisions to allocate human capital, physical capital, and natural resources among alternative uses. This economic reasoning process involves the consideration of costs and benefits with the ultimate goal of making decisions that will enable individuals and societies to be as well off as possible. The study of economics provides students with the concepts and tools necessary for an economic way of thinking and helps students understand the interaction of buyers and sellers in markets, workings of the national economy, and interactions within the global marketplace. Economics is grounded in knowledge about how people choose to use resources. Economic understanding helps individuals, businesses, governments, and societies choose what resources to devote to work, to school, and to leisure; how many dollars to spend, and how many to save; and how to make informed decisions in a wide variety of contexts. Economic reasoning and skillful use of economic tools draw upon a strong base of knowledge about human capital, land, investments, money, income and production, taxes, and government expenditures.”

(History-Social Science Framework, Ch. 1)


English Language Learners will learn from the grade level core History-Social Science curriculum, and be supported with integrated English Language Development (ELD) where English skills are explicitly taught and reinforced throughout lessons.  

Literacy is deeply embedded in all History-Social Science instruction.  As such, it can be integrated with ELA standards, including the Benchmark Advance and StudySync curriculums. Good integration is developed around both ELA and History-Social Science standards, and must include grade level rigor. Pearson Publications has created suggested recommendations regarding what that integration could look like at each grade level with Benchmark Advance (K-5). In addition, detailed, grade-specific ELA/History-Social Science integration suggestions have been created by a group of grade level SMBSD teachers.

 Kinder      First      Second   Third     Fourth      Fifth       Sixth

Pearson MyWorld is the newly adopted History-Social Science curriculum. It is being implemented starting this year (2019-20).  Students can access using their Clever Account, while logged into their SMBSD Google account. Click here to learn more about this publication


Via the Internet, students are able to access online curriculum from any location using their Clever logins.