History and Social Science
VI. PreK-12 Scope and Sequence of History
and Social Science Instruction
The curriculum in history and social science needs to be arranged as a coherent progression from pre-kindergarten through the high school years. The success of PreK-12 instruction depends upon avoiding the widespread problems of major gaps and needless repetitions in the teaching of history, social sciences, and the humanities. Again, the core content of all courses should be sequenced by teachers collaborating across elementary, middle, and high school grades, no longer operating solely within the limits of their own grade and school levels. Collaboration is also vital for planning the kind of repetition that is needed for effective and increasingly sophisticated learning.
As they design course sequences that satisfy grade span requirements, teachers will want to preserve existing exemplary programs and to enable implementation of new ones. The grade span requirements can be met by different grade level sequences of instruction designed at the school and district level.
A. Required studies across grade spans PreK-4, 5-8, 9-10, and 11-12:
By adopting a sequence of instruction that has students completing assigned grade span studies by the end of grades 4, 8, 10, and 12, school districts will prepare their students for the regularly scheduled statewide assessments of performance called for by the Education Reform Act of 1993, and for their local high school graduation requirements.
Grade Span PreK-4
Introduction to topics and skills of history, geography, economics, and civics and government, to be integrated with reading, writing, speaking, and numeracy.
Introduction to local and Massachusetts history, geography, economic and civic life.
Introduction to the physical, economic, and human geography of the early Americas.
Introduction to major events, persons, and institutions in United States history.
Introduction to world geography and history.
Grade Span 5-8
Geography and history of the United States from its origins to c. 1880, with studies of political/civic, economic, social, religious, intellectual, and cultural life of the eras.
This assumes two full years of instruction in this grade span on United States history, geography, economics, and civics, including appropriate review and deepening of earlier learning.
World geography and history from human origins to c. 700 A.D., and related studies of political/civic, economic, social, religious, intellectual, and cultural life. This may be done in either one or one and one-half years of instruction.
Elective studies in geography, economics, and/or civics and government or special units of study developed by local school systems.
Grade Span 9-10
World geography, history, and related studies from c. 500 A.D. to the present. This assumes two full years of instruction in world history and geography, including appropriate review and deepening of earlier learning. The study of world history in this grade span should include substantial consideration of United States individuals and events that helped shape world affairs since the 17th century, with a special focus on topics previously studied in grade span 5-8, such as the American Revolution, development of United States constitutional government, and the United States Civil War.
Grade Span 11-12
History of the United States from c. 1865 to the present. This assumes retaining the commonly offered 11th grade course, including appropriate reviews of earlier learning.
History/Social Science electives:
(Recommended: a 12th grade capstone course in civics/government, with intensive review of the United States Constitution, including readings in basic sources such as selected Federalist papers).
B. The recommended pattern of instruction, grade by grade:
Adoption of the PreK-12 course order below would allow easier student and family mobility from district to district across the Commonwealth and to other states. Together with lessening disruption for students and their families, it would minimize arbitrary changes and unpredictability of course assignments for teachers. Its grade level placement of courses in United States and world history and geography, and of social science electives, reflects practices of many Massachusetts school districts and resembles PreK-12 patterns already in place or emerging in other states and districts in the nation. Overlapping of course dates is intentional, to allow reviews of prior material as determined by teachers.
Grade Span PreK-4
||Living, Learning, and Working, Now and Long Ago, Near and Far|
a) Topics in history, geography, economics, and civics in grades PreK-4 to be integrated with instruction in reading, writing, and speaking
b) Stories, readings, projects, and exercises should be chosen in cooperation with teachers from all elementary grades
||Families and Communities, Now and Long Ago, Near and Far|
a) The physical geography of local and regional communities
b) Family and community-related topics in history, economics, and civics; local, national, and from selected continents
c) Above topics to be integrated with reading, writing, and speaking, and chosen in collaboration with teachers from all elementary grades
||The Early Americas: Narrative and Literature; Physical, Economic, and Human Geography|
a) Topics in: Native American life before European arrivals
b) Topics in: European explorers and settlers
c) Topics to be integrated with reading, writing, and speaking, and coordinated with teachers in other grades
||Local, Massachusetts, and United States History, Geography, Economics, and Civics and Government|
a) With frequent, though not necessarily constant, attention to the chronological order of events, persons, holidays, etc.
b) Topics to be integrated with reading, writing, and speaking, and coordinated with teachers in other grades
||People and Civilizations in World History; Aspects of World Geography, Economics, and Civics and Government|
a) Selected early, ancient, and pre-modern civilizations (civilizations such as Mesopotamia, China, Greece, feudal era)
b) Above items to be integrated with reading, writing, and speaking, and chosen in collaboration with teachers from all elementary grades
Grade Span 5-8
For grades 5 through 11, the relevant Core Knowledge topics from Section IV are indicated under each course title; the total number of topics is set in parentheses.
||United States History and Geography, Origins to c.1815|
Treating United States Core Knowledge topics 1a through 3h (21 Core Knowledge topics)
a) Linked to American art, literature, music, and local architecture of the colonial and revolutionary periods, with Massachusetts examples
b) "Origins" allows teachers to begin with, or revisit, the eras and peoples of their choice, whether pre-Columbian America, or the European explorers, or first European settlers
||A year of elective studies in geography, economics, or civics/government, or for special study units developed by schools|
a) No time period assigned for electives in this grade, but selection of times, places, and topics requires coordination with teachers in grades 7-12
||World History and Geography, Prehistory to c. 700 A.D.|
Treating World Core Knowledge topics 1a through 3c (16)
a) Includes study of the major world religions, and the arts, architecture, literature, and thought of early and classical civilizations
b) The scope of this course would necessarily limit the time spent on pre-classical societies