History and Social Science
Curriculum Frameworks K-12
Approved by School Committee 05/29/03
Last Updated: June 5, 2003
In the fall of 2002, the Massachusetts Department of Education issued a new curriculum framework in the area of History and Social Science. In order to maintain currency with its curriculum, the District organized a Social Studies Task Force, appointed by the Superintendent. Comprised of teachers, curriculum staff, and a school administrator, their task was to realign the District’s current curriculum with the current state frameworks.
Mr. James Hedlund, the Humanities Curriculum Specialist, provided the group with copies of the state’s former framework, an April 2001 construct of recommended realignments, as well as the State’s newest curriculum. The committee was divided into three groups of teachers (representing grade levels K-5, 6-7, and 8-12) to analyze and discuss similiarities and differences among the documents.
All members of the task force agreed that since the state has directed the study for each grade level, only a minimal amount of discussion was necessary regarding the topics and areas covered by each grade level. Students will eventually have to pass the MCAS exam in United States history to graduate, but it has not yet been determined if the MCAS History/Social Science test will be administered to students in grade 10 or 11; consequently the area of greatest concern to the task force was how to determine which pathway to follow to fulfill this requirement.
Teachers in grades K-7 agreed to change and modify the current Wachusett Regional School District K-7 curriculum to align with that of the latest Massachusetts Department of Education History/Social Science Framework 2002. With alignments in place, and the resolve to maintain the integrity of a chronological presentation of history and social sciences for all students in grades K-7, the curriculum will include a one-year course in World Geography for students in both grades 6 and 7 for the 2003-2004 school year only. In 2004-2005, the rotation will be World Geography for students in grade 6, and Ancient Civilizations for students in grade 7.
For students in grades 8-12, the committee voted to take no action on the curriculum at this time and to continue with the District’s current scope and sequence.
The Massachusetts History/Social Science Curriculum Framework is one of seven curriculum frameworks that advance Massachusetts Educational Reform in learning, teaching, and assessment. It was created, and has been revised by Massachusetts teachers and administrators of history and social science programs in kindergarten through grade twelve. Teachers and curriculum specialists use the Massachusetts History/Social Science Curriculum Framework as a guide to determine the content that should be taught in grades K-12.
Because the 1993 Education Reform Act required that frameworks be reviewed and revised periodically, a panel of Wachusett Regional School District teachers examined the new document with the current curriculum to ensure the scope and sequence presented is organized thorough throughout the grade levels. The panel utilized the following reference sources to create this document: Massachusetts Department of Education: “History and Social Science Curriculum Frameworks” (October, 2002 and February, 2001); DOE History and Social Science consultants, Mr. John Keh and Mr. Anders Lewis, Ph.D.
ORGANIZATION OF THE FRAMEWORK
The guiding principles present a set of tents about effective K-12 programs and instruction in history and social sciences. These principles articulate the ideals of teaching, learning, assessing, and administering history and social science programs in the District. In addition, they show how educators may create educational environments that encourage curiosity, an understanding of the value history plays in one’s future, geographical skills, appreciation of differences, citizenship, civic mindedness, economic inquiry, and the ability to understand the global society in which one is a member.
- Guiding Principle One
- Every student should study history and social science every year from kindergarten to high school.
- Guiding Principle Two
- An effective history and social science curriculum combines the learning of content and skills in the study of history, geography, economics, and civics and government.
- Guiding Principle Three
- An effective curriculum in history and social science draws on many disciplines.
- Guiding Principle Four
- While encouraging respect for differences in home backgrounds, an effective history and social science curriculum nurtures students’ sense of their common ground as present or future American citizens in order to prepare them for responsible participation in our schools and in civic life.
- Guiding Principle Five
- An effective history and social science curriculum emphasizes the development of the political principles and institutions of Western civilization.
- Guiding Principle Six
- An effective history and social science curriculum prepares students to understand the world outside of the United States.
- Guiding Principle Seven
- The historical narrative should provide a continuous setting for learning in social science, and the frame of reference from which teachers choose the current events and public policy issues for student study: presentations, and classroom discussions.
The goal of a history and social science curriculum is to enable students to systematically study to acquire the knowledge, skill, and judgment to continue to learn for themselves; to participate intelligently, justly, and responsibly in civic life, and in deliberation about local, national, and international issues; and to avail themselves of historical and cultural resources-historic sites, museums, parks, libraries, multimedia information sources- wherever they may live or travel.
The Integration of History, Geography, Economics, and Civics
In this curriculum framework, the four disciplines of history, geography, economics, civics and government are integrated into the learning standards and skills’ they are not presented in four separate strands. This District supports teaching a coherent, historical narrative. The history of the arts, philosophy, literature, religions, ethics, mathematics, science, and technology are incorporated into this area of the curriculum when these disciplines will augment the students’ understanding of a particular historical period.