California Department of Education
Taking Center Stage – Act II
The Curriculum Frameworks—History-Social Science emphasizes three main goals:
In addition, the standards call for students to learn analysis skills and how to understand and use primary sources.
Del Norte County Unified School District
In the multiyear Brother Jonathan Artifact Conservation Project, an average of 20 middle school students from Del Norte County Unified School District annually assist the Flynn Maritime Conservation Lab with the restoration and conservation of glass artifacts from the shipwreck of the S.S. Brother Jonathan. Through the conservation project students address the language arts, science, and history content standards. The restoration process involves biweekly water testing, cleaning of artifacts, setting up for desalinization, and recording of all processes conducted on each artifact. Students also research the medicine bottles undergoing conservation to prepare and present reports to the Del Norte County Historical Society on the history of bottles in the collection.
California’s world history standards received the highest score of all states from the Fordham Institute’s analysis of history standards.1 The report notes that “California and Oklahoma excel . . . in covering the non-Western world . . .” (page 28), and that “California’s premise is that ‘history is a story well told.”2 The institute had previously given California “A” grades for its standards in English, mathematics, and science.
The STAR history test covers content from grades six, seven, and eight. Unlike English language arts standards, which build upon each other, the history concepts are completely different each year, making it difficult for teachers to prepare their students for the test without the help of their departmental team members.
Rio Norte Junior High School, William S. Hart Union High School District
The Rio Norte history team enjoys the excitement generated by the state-adopted Social Studies Alive! America's Past lessons. The department members link History Alive! projects into their lesson plans and common assessments. They find it a useful tool in helping students understand that history is a fascinating story.
Luther Burbank Middle School, Burbank Unified School District
As a part of their eighth-grade history unit, students at Luther Burbank Middle School learned about the Constitution and the functions of governments as they explored their communities, identified problems, and tried to make a positive change in public policy. One problem they identified in the community was that teens were not being judged by a jury of their peers in the court system. They researched the law enforcement process as it affects a teen breaking the law and the best way to prevent repeat offenses. Students collaborated with personnel from the City of Burbank, the Burbank Unified School District, and the Burbank Police Department. They interviewed and contacted the police department to gather information and create a display panel that described the problem and alternative solutions to develop a new public policy. Their final action was to promote the implementation of a teen peer court program. Through the program, students learned about offenses most often committed by teens, the different jobs associated with law enforcement, and the judicial system. Students reported feeling empowered that they can impact the legal system and participate in the political process. Student assessment results indicated that 88 percent of the students achieved proficiency in the history-social science standards addressed in this activity.
Young people nationwide often lack knowledge of world geography—a study that would enhance world history classes. A Web site to help students gain geographic awareness, MyWonderfulWorld.org (Outside Source), provides resources for parents and teachers to engage young people in learning about the world. The site also provides tools for communicating to policymakers and education leaders about the importance of geographic literacy. The History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve (PDF; 599KB; 68pp.) for each of the middle grades emphasize geographic awareness.
Technology applications for history/social science. Many teachers enhance history lessons by using such things as simulations, virtual field trips, television broadcasts, streaming videos (online), podcasts, links to historic artifacts (pictures, audiocasts, broadcasts, historic news clips, etc.), videos, and presentation or publication of student work. In addition, students can learn more about history through online research. Technology standards are embedded in the History-Social Science Content Standards for California Public Schools—Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve and in the California Career Technical Education Model Curriculum Standards, Grades Seven Through Twelve (PDF; 2.13MB; 441pp.).
1Walter Russell Mead, Chester E. Finn, Jr., Martin A. Davis, Jr., The State of State—World History Standards (Outside Source). Washington, D.C.: Thomas B. Fordham Institute, June 2006, 27.
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California Department of Education
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Sacramento, CA 95814