5 Top Resources for Aligning Your Social Studies Curricula to the Common Core


Social studies supervisors and teachers across the country are revising their unit plans to meet their state’s content standards, as well as, the Common Core State Standards for Literacy in History and Social Studies. Simultaneously, many states are implementing new evaluation and observation frameworks. The performance ratings employed by the most popular evaluation models encourage a shift away from teacher-led direct instruction to more student-centered activities incorporating inquiry and synthesis. In social studies, primary source document analysis goes hand in hand with the 9-12 Common Core reading and writing standards. Here are five top resources to align your curricula to the Common Core with student-driven lessons.

1) The Choices Program – http://www.choices.edu/

The Choices Program curriculum was developed at Brown University and has been the subject of studies by the University of Wisconsin Center for Educational Research. The curriculum units draw upon multiple primary source documents and culminate in a rigorous student-centered role-playing activity.  The Choices activities require students to apply their authentic knowledge to a public policy decision. The complete Choices Program can be purchased in PDF on a CD for $885. The Choices units are applicable to the United States and global history classes.

2) DBQ Project – http://www.dbqproject.com/

The DBQ project is a series of long (DBQs) and short (Mini-Qs) primary source document activities that focus on close reading and evidence-based writing. Many of the DBQ Project’s activities require students to compare differing historical accounts and share their analysis via jigsaw activities. The DBQ Project’s “buckets” system is useful for preparing students to answer DBQs on AP exams.  The DBQ Project comes from the United States and global history editions.

3) Read Like a Historian –  http://sheg.stanford.edu/?q=node/45

Developed by Stanford University’s History Education Group, the Read Like a Historian program (RLH) consists of 75 primary source-based lessons that encompass the traditional United States history curriculum. New teachers and departments undergoing curriculum overhauls will feel like kids in a candy shop when exploring RLH’s units that are complete with plans, PowerPoints, and graphic organizers.  RLH’s lessons are easy to access and are free!

4) Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History – http://www.gilderlehrman.org/

The Gilder Lehrman Institute (GLI) of American History is a nonprofit organization devoted to the improvement of history education. The Institute has developed an array of programs for schools that focus on teaching with primary source documents. The GLI site provides access to the GLI Collection (featuring more than 60,000 unique historical documents), teacher resources, and lesson plans. The History Now newsletter is organized by period and links lessons by grade level. The multimedia section includes lectures by eminent historians, online exhibits, and podcasts. New additions include a set of Common Core aligned lesson plans and a list of UBD-compatible essential questions. GLI materials are free. Some of the site’s resources are limited to registered users. Schools that apply and are accepted to be GLI Affiliates gain access to all of GLI’s resources. GLI Affiliate school teachers have the opportunity to participate in GLI summer professional development seminars.

5) SPICE – http://spice.stanford.edu/

The Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education is a non-profit educational program and receives funding from the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. SPICE consists of over 100 global studies units that explore contemporary issues via historical and cultural analysis. SPICE lessons are attentive to spatial analysis and economic decision making. SPICE activities engage students with an array of multiple perspectives to engender critical thinking skills. The SPICE units vary in price and can be purchased in bundles.