History / Social Science

Curriculum Overview

PUSD bases its core instruction on California State “Standards and Benchmarks” for each academic curriculum, including History / Social Science. The following is an excerpt from the introduction to History / Social Science Framework and Standards from the California State Board of Education.

Please click here to learn more about History / Social Science standards for each individual grade level.

Highlights of the Standards

With the History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools as a guide to the eras and civilizations to study, these standards require students not only to acquire core knowledge in history and social science, but also to develop the critical thinking skills that historians and social scientists employ to study the past and its relationship to the present. It is possible to spend a lifetime studying history and not learn about every significant historical event; no one can know everything. However, the State Board hopes that during their years of formal schooling, students will learn to distinguish the important from the unimportant, to recognize vital connections between the present and the past, and to appreciate universal historical themes and dilemmas.

Throughout this document, the use of biographies, original documents, diaries, letters, legends, speeches, and other narrative artifacts from our past is encouraged to foster students’ understanding of historical events by revealing the ideas, values, fears, and dreams of the people associated with them. Found in archives, museums, historical sites, and libraries across California, these original materials are indispensable resources. The State Board hopes schools will take advantage of these repositories and encourage students’ direct contact with history. The standards also emphasize the importance of enriching the study of history through the use of literature, both from and about the period being studied.

Mastery of these standards will ensure that students not only know the facts, but also understand common and complex themes throughout history, making connections among their own lives, the lives of the people who came before them, and the lives of those to come. The statements at the beginning of each grade provide a brief overview of the greater story under study. The overarching statements in each grade and their substatements function as conceptual units: the numbered items under each overarching standard delineate aspects of the bigger concept that students are expected to master. In this way, teachers and assessors can focus on the concept without neglecting the essential components of each.

The standards include many exemplary lists of historical figures that could be studied. These examples are illustrative. They do not suggest that all of the figures mentioned are required for study, nor do they exclude the study of additional figures that may be relevant to the standards.

The standards do not exist in isolation. The History-Social Science Framework will be revised to align with the standards, and it will include suggested ways to relate the standards’ substance to students, ways to make connections within and across grades, and detailed guidance for day-to-day instruction and lesson plans. Teachers should use these documents together.

Knowledge and skills increase in complexity in a systematic fashion from kindergarten through grade twelve, although no standards exist for grade nine in deference to current California practice in which grade nine is the year students traditionally choose a history-social science elective. However, in the coming years, the State Board intends to review this current practice.

In kindergarten through grade three, students are introduced to the basic concepts of each discipline: history, geography, civics, and economics. Beginning at grade four, the disciplines are woven together within the standards at each grade.

The critical thinking skills that support the study of history-social science are outlined in the sections for grades five, eight, and ten. To approach subject matter as historians, geographers, economists, and political scientists, students are expected to employ these skills as they master the content.

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