Social Studies Curriculum Study
Social Studies Education
The FCCPS 2002-2004 K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Study agreed to statements of Philosophy, Belief, and Objectives as follows
The Falls Church City Public Schools Social Studies program is designed to provide students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for them to participate actively and responsibly in a local, national, and global society.
We believe that active and responsible individuals are
FCCPS Social Studies Program Objectives
K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Study
I. Guiding Principles and Assumptions
A. The K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Study Committee affirms the Virginia and the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Social Studies standards and the Ten Themes which serve as the latter’s framework:
Time, Continuity, and Change
People, Places, and Environments
Individual Development and Identity
Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Power, Authority, and Governance
Production, Distribution, and Consumption
Science, Technology, and Society
Civic Ideals and Practices
These standards and themes will inform curriculum design and instructional practice.
B. The K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Study Committee supports “The Civic Mission of Schools” as outlined by the Carnegie Corporation and the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).
Goals of Civic Education:
Civic education should help young people acquire and learn to use the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will prepare them to be competent and responsible citizens throughout their lives. Competent and responsible citizens:
C. The K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Study Committee endorses the work of the 1998 curriculum study committee, specifically the following:
a. An emphasis... on programs that enable students to develop self-discipline, responsible decision-making, a respect for themselves and others, and prepare them to be productive citizens.
b. ... the most creative and effective use of resources available through community members and agencies to address both learning and social issues.
c. ... critical thinking skills and problem-solving abilities across all disciplines to prepare students for a changing world.
d. ... cohesive long-range instructional planning from kindergarten through high school, with a plan for systematic curriculum review.
i. the program will include interdisciplinary instruction as appropriate.
ii. teaching will emphasize international education and will stress the
changing and far-reaching nature of the world in which students will
live and work.
iii. instruction will provide opportunities for connection with the world
e. Student learning will be measured using a variety of assessment tools appropriate for measuring what students have learned and their ability to use that knowledge.
f. Determine appropriate uses of technology for the social studies.
D. Standards for Teaching and Learning
1. The K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Study Committee supports the NCSS standards for teaching and learning and that the instructional practices of all social studies teachers should be informed by them.
a. Social studies teaching and learning are powerful when they are meaningful.
b. Social studies teaching and learning are powerful when they are integrative.
c. Social studies teaching and learning are powerful when they are value-based.
d. Social studies teaching and learning are powerful when they are challenging.
e. Social studies teaching and learning are powerful when they are active.
II. Conclusions and Recommendations
1. Curriculum and course offerings shall be aligned carefully with state standards and SOL test administration schedule. To that end, it is recommended that the proposed K-12 sequence be implemented as soon as possible, but no later than the 06-07 academic year. In this proposed sequence, Virginia Studies would be taught and tested in grade 4 and US History I, II, III in grades 5, 6, and 7 respectively with SOL testing in grade 7.
2. The high school program of studies shall continue to provide students with a number of challenging and appropriate required and elective courses, courses which will satisfy SOL requirements, provide rigorous preparation for post secondary education, and lead to the award of a range of diplomas (standard, advanced studies, IB).
3. Course enrollment histories for all elective offerings shall be reviewed regularly to ascertain if there is sufficient student interest. An elective in “International Studies” is proposed for consideration by the high school department and Curriculum Council for implementation during the 05-06 academic year.
4. All curriculum documents shall be revised or written to incorporate required components as specified in the “Components of Curriculum Documents” memorandum. Elementary documents will include unit plans with detailed lesson activities and instructional materials. Course curricula shall provide appropriate opportunities for curriculum integration, experiential learning, alternative assessment of student performance, and use of spiraling themes. Every effort to control for content (knowledge and skills) gaps and overlap must be made through the use of curriculum mapping strategies.
5. Professional development opportunities and resources shall be provided to instructional and administrative staff in order to complete curricular work – e.g. curriculum auditing, mapping, and writing skills development; state standards committee membership; time and compensation for completion of curriculum work.
1. Instruction must be informed by both curriculum content and the need for pacing in order to provide all students with time and opportunity to master stated outcomes. Certain courses of study will address discrete knowledge and skills, others will be integrated with related content areas such as language arts/English. Elementary instruction will be characterized by identified strands or themes which will be addressed developmentally from year to year ( spiraling).
2. Instructional design and delivery shall include the following recommended “best practices:”
- direct instruction
- written research and discovery experiences
- cooperative learning
- participatory activities
- debates and discussions encouraging divergent thinking and critical thinking
- use of primary sources
- integration of research, reading, writing and critical thinking skills development
- technology assisted instruction
3. Opportunities to enter into partnerships with the community and regional organizations shall be pursued in order to “extend classroom walls.” Partnerships with the Library of Congress (AAM) and the Falls Church Historical Commission can serve as models for this effort.
4. Content, process, and product differentiation shall be employed to meet the varied needs and strengths of each child. Learning experiences should be designed with clear, challenging, and appropriate expectations for mastery by all students.
5. Textbooks shall be reviewed and evaluated by consulting the state adoption list and the board-approved “Textbook Criteria and Review” rubric. The following is a proposed textbook adoption timetable:
Elementary - 2004-2005 (VA Studies – Grade 4)
Middle - 2004-2006 (US History)
High - 2004-2006 (World Civilization, US History)
6. Professional development opportunities for instructional staff shall be provided and address learning styles, reading/writing integration, and differentiation of instruction in heterogeneous classrooms.
1. Internal assessments of student achievement will continue to be teacher/department designed or adapted instruments. External assessments will include SOL tests in grades 3, 4 and 7, and End of Course tests in World History I and II, and VA/US History, and IB/AP examinations at the secondary level.
2. Student performance on Virginia SOL exams including item analysis data shall be used by staff to identify students for support services (i.e., STAR, Support Skills course, ILMS Special Education, Summer School) and to specify their academic needs. Test data should also be utilized to align curriculum and instructional pacing and focus, that is to continually evaluate the program of studies.
3. Where feasible and appropriate, students should be afforded the opportunity to prepare for external assessments by way of model experiences in their social studies classrooms.
4. Assessment “best practices” shall be varied, appropriate to that which is being assessed, and aligned to curriculum and instruction, e.g. research papers, portfolios, oral presentations and questioning, written tests, authentic assessments, etc.
5. Students shall be commended and recognized for achievement demonstrated in their social studies classes and in the communities in which they reside, to include the awarding of the diploma seal for Excellence in Civics Education at graduation.
6. Professional development opportunities for instructional staff shall address classroom assessment strategies, alternative or performance-based assessments, data access, analysis, and use.