Continuity of Learning - Social Studies

Given the exceptional circumstance, the following list of what to consider when developing educational experiences for your social studies students outside of the classroom has been developed. There are also examples of different ways to approach asynchronous learning experiences that are things that I would consider assigning for my own students and children in the different content strands along with appropriate supporting links. Additional resources to support the creation of units can be found at the DOE Continuity of Learning webpage as well as the Social Studies Curriculum & Instruction pages for each of the four content areas (Civics & GovernmentPersonal Finance & EconomicsGeographyHistory).

For a more tailored collection, check out this collection of tech based curricular resources sorted by grade band and content strand that can be used to support the creation of asynchronous learning experiences for your students.

In order to help educators support students with limited or no access to technology, I have compiled examples of age appropriate activities that support enrichment learning about social studies in each of the four content strands. The examples in the documents below are meant to be accessible for students regardless of access to technology and are not focused on worksheets.

To date more than twenty-five virtual professional development sessions have been offered to support teachers with best practices and resources. More are added almost daily! Check out them out at:

Check out the new Maine Department of Education page of distance learning supports for parents and families.

  • Please note this site is currently being built out. Check back for more information.

Are you supporting a student with distance learning? Check out these family and student friendly resources for teaching social studies at home:

Maine PBS: The Learning Space - Maine Public, the Maine Department of Education, and Educate Maine have joined forces to create original, educational programming for students in grades 3 through 5. Dedicated teachers from across Maine have developed original video lessons, pulling content from their own lesson plans and sources to provide exceptional learning opportunities for Maine students.

Here are two resources that highlight online/virtual events that are happening from now through the end of May: Calendar #1 and Calendar #2

Wide Open Schools has created an outstanding collection of resources to support distance learning for both teacher and families. Check out their PK-5 and 6-12 collections for social studies.

Learning Keeps Going - Coronavirus is posing unprecedented challenges to educators around the globe. To help you keep the learning going, a coalition of education organizations has curated free tools, strategies, and best practices for teaching and learning online.

Smithsonian Education Guide - The Smithsonian has compiled and sorted events and activities sorted by grade level and topics that can be used by care givers to support distance learning for students.

Gilder Lehrman Pop-Up History School - The Gilder Lehrman Pop-Up History School is a series of live interactive lessons by Master Teachers starting the week of April 27 and ending the week of May 25. Each week there will be two lessons for upper elementary, middle, and high school students.

Maine Historical Society Virtual Learning Hub - Learn about Maine history and try an activity in ten minutes or less! You can also explore their online exhibits.

Osher Map Library: Maps at Home - These resources can be used to teach students about mapping conventions, continents, oceans, and other landforms; or they can be examined more in depth to explore the progression of geographical knowledge in the western world and the beliefs and values that dominated western worldviews from the Renaissance to the modern era.

National Museum of American History: Distance Learning Plans - Check out these learning collections that feature step by step learning at different grade levels to help students learn about American history.

Junior Achievement: At Home Videos & Activities - There are both K-5/Elementary and 6-12/Secondary resources available.

Census 2020: Home and Distance Learning Activities - Many parents and other adults taking care of children in their homes are looking for ways to continue their learning and keep them engaged. The U.S. Census Bureau can help with our Statistics in Schools (SIS) program, which offers over 200 free learning activities and resources that you can choose from for children in pre-K through 12th grade that you can easily use at home.

PBS NewsHour: Distance Learning - Use these teacher-produced resources and lesson plans to create your own learning for your children. PBS keeps this document updated, especially around current events and has five sections to choose from, plus additional resources.

 

The lessons below focus on the different strands of social studies with integrated units of study with both no tech and use technology options:

Civics & Government Example

According to the Six Proven Practices for Effective Civic Learning, understanding Civics and Government is about more than knowing how a bill becomes a law and getting people to vote. With election season right around the corner, support you students in thinking about voting and how a bill becomes a law while also supporting their learning at a deeper level.
Have your students:

  • Pick either the executive branch or legislative branch and determine who currently represents the student in the branch at the local, state, and national level.
  • Investigate what is the role of the branch of government at the local, state, and national level.
    • No Tech: Interview elected officials
    • Use Tech: Online Research
    • Interdisciplinary: Career in politics (CED)
  • Summarize how different levels of government influence the daily lives of the student from laws (younger kids) to taxes and international policy (older students).
    • No Tech: Writing
    • Use Tech: Digital Presentation
    • Interdisciplinary: Use online media technology to create presentation. (Technology & Learning)
  • Identify (if possible) who is running for election in that office at each level and what current issues they are talking about. Older students can research the policy positions of the candidates to determine who they might support in the election.
    • No Tech: News, Newspaper, Mailing
    • Use Tech: Survey like iSideWith.com
  • Come up with ideas about what the student would like to see change or remain the same at the local, state, and national level.Younger students will need additional support in identifying appropriate topics.
    • No Tech: Discuss with family.
    • Use Tech: Research Issues Online
    • Interdisciplinary: Environmental and Health Issues (Science and/or Health)
  • Reach out to your elected officials to share you thoughts by email, letter, or phone call. Identify other groups that you can connect with that can help support the ideas of your student.
  • Talk about ways your student can be involved in student government or other civic/government groups year round and beyond the 2020 election.
    • No Tech: Design a campaign poster.
    • Use Tech: We The Voters or Launch a social media campaign to let people know what you believe in.
    • Interdisciplinary: Create your own campaign logo and design. (VPA)
Personal Finance & Economics Example

Making decisions about money is an important life skills for your students and now is an opportunity to have them look at the many factors that play a role in deciding how people spend their money. Regardless if you are talking about personal finance or economics, one thing we can all agree on is that there is not enough money for everything that we want. (Check out the Maine Financial Literacy Framework & Resource Guide for more ideas!)
Have your students think about the scarcity of money by:

  • Create a list of everything that they would like to spend money on. Identify the differences between need and wants on the list and then identify which one are goods and which are services.
    • No Tech: Written List
    • Use Tech: Digital Presentation
    • Interdisciplinary: Use online media technology to create presentation. (Technology & Learning)
  • Ask the student to determine how much all of the items on the list cost. (Family members can support younger students by helping them figure out the cost of items.)
    • No Tech: Newspaper Flyer/Ads
    • Use Tech: Online shopping websites
    • Interdisciplinary: Total cost of items and calculate percentage of total. (Math)
  • Give the student a budget. This budget should preferably cover the cost of most/all of the needs, but not enough to cover the cost of everything on the list. (Older students can look at careers and hour wages to determine what type of income they can expect in different careers with a 40 hour work week.)
    • No Tech: Written
    • Use Tech: Online Budget Calculator
    • Interdisciplinary: Explore different careers and how different incomes change your budget. (CED)
  • Have students decide what their budget looks like and how they plan to save/invest for the future based on what their needs and wants are now. (The stock market or other potential investment ideas could be discussed based on the student.)
  • Ask students how they decided what to purchase and why. Advertisements and incentive programs could be discussed here based on the student.
  • Discuss different opportunities that the student might have to earn money now and in the future that could impact their budget.
    • No Tech: Make a collage of potential careers.
    • Use Tech: Explore Claim Your Future from FAME.
    • Interdisciplinary: Research potential post-high school options. (CED)
Geography Example

Help your students better understand the different roles that geography plays in their life with a lesson that touches on the Five Themes of Geography by having them plan and navigate a trip from their home to a place at least 100 miles away. Parents can assist younger students in this work and by making it a shorter trip.

Have students:

  • Using latitude and longitude, find your home location and destination.
    • No Tech: Use a Maine Atlas & Gazetteer or U.S. Atlas
    • Use Tech: Google Maps
  • Identify at least one physical feature (river, mountain, lake, etc) and one human feature (city, building, bridge, etc.) and determine how far away they are from their start home.
    • No Tech: Use a Maine Atlas & Gazetteer or U.S. Atlas
    • Use Tech: Google Maps
    • Interdisciplinary: Landforms (Science)
  • Measure how many miles away the destination is from their home.
    • No Tech: Use a Maine Atlas & Gazetteer or U.S. Atlas
    • Use Tech: Google Maps
    • Interdisciplinary: Multiplication & Rounding (Math)
  • Imagine traveling to the destination and follow along on the map to write about the different towns, cities, states, and countries they would travel through during their trip.
    • No Tech: Use a Maine Atlas & Gazetteer or U.S. Atlas
    • Use Tech: Google Maps
    • Interdisciplinary: Journaling (ELA)
    • Interdisciplinary: Look for cities/towns with connections to world languages or cities. (World Language)
  • (Optional) Identify major landmarks (both human and physical) that they might see along the way.
    • Interdisciplinary: Sketch a picture of your favorite landmark (Visual Arts)
  • Discuss how building the roads that they would travel on changed the land and where the roads had to go around or over the environment such as bridges or tunnels.
    • No Tech: Use a Maine Atlas & Gazetteer or U.S. Atlas
    • Use Tech: Google Maps
    • Interdisciplinary: Use different materials to try to build a bridge at home. (Science)
  • Think about what type of things in their lives (food, toys, clothes, books, etc) rely on the roads in order to get to the stores where we buy them.
    • No Tech: Journaling
    • Use Tech:
    • Interdisciplinary: Explore the jobs associated with trade and commerce. (CED)
History Example

It is time for your students to serve as historians and record what is going on around them. This will allow them to serve as a primary source for those who want to learn more about today's events from the perspective of a student. For one week, have your students journal every day about what they are seeing in the world around them. This might be what they see in the news, hear from friends and family, or anything else that they experience in their daily life.

When journaling, have your student consider:

  • What unique talents do they have to record their thoughts? (Drawing, Poetry, Notes, Photes, etc)
    • No Tech: Sketch images
    • Use Tech: Take photographs or digital presentations.
    • Interdisciplinary: Focus on your skills in VPA & Technology Learning.
  • What major announcements happened today from both the state and national governments?
  • When reading the news pay attention:
  • Has anything about your neighborhood changed in terms of what is open or how people acting?
    • No Tech: Call local business or interview family and friends.
    • Use Tech: Online search and social media updates from businesses.
    • Interdisciplinary: Interview business owners about how they are operating during this time. (CED)
  • Have feelings about the people you talk with changed from yesterday or from the beginning of your journal?
    • No Tech: Interview friends and family.
    • Use Tech: Use social media to track what people are saying over multiple days.
    • Interdisciplinary: Use quotes from different dates/people to build a narrative of events. (ELA)
  • Do you think there are people who feel the same as you? Different than you? Why might they feel the same or different?
  • What is your family talking about needing to purchase or just recently purchased to make sure that you/they have enough?
    • No Tech: Interview friends and family.
    • Use Tech: Use social media to examine what people are talking about.
  • Interdisciplinary: Track the changes of advertised goods available both in person and online. Determine the percent change in costs. (Math)

Below are tips for both teachers and families:

What to Keep in Mind for Teachers
  • Focus on what works best for YOUR students based on age, content, and technology access.

  • Create asynchronous learning experiences.

  • Less is more for quantity of assignments and instruction.

  • Offer a variety of options and experiences to allow for personalization of the learning.

  • Be creative in exploring simplicity to meet varied learning styles.

  • Give explicit instructions and time expectations.

  • Specify expectations for students and parents.

  • Be empathetic and flexible to the circumstances.

  • Communicate consistently and constantly.

  • Become familiar with the technology and tools needed to participate in the work and stick with them.

  • Schedule online “office hours”.

  • Encourage collaboration among your students.

  • Connect with other educators and the DOE for support and resources.

  • Maintain relationships.

  • Take care of yourself!

What to Keep in Mind for Students & Families
  • Distance learning will be different than the classroom experience.

  • You are not expected to be the expert in the content or to be able to teach new content.

  • Embrace where social studies appears in your daily life (planning trips, budgeting, current events, etc) as prime opportunities for learning and discussion.

  • Some learning will happen naturally as part of asking questions about the world around you.

  • Check your email & communicate with your teacher on a regular basis.

  • Plan your time each day and schedule breaks.

  • Have a distraction free place to work/study.

  • Focus on learning styles that work best for you.

  • Become familiar with the technology and tools needed to participate in the work.

  • Collaborate with family members and classmates (when possible).

  • Look for potential choice boards that give students ownership in their learning and flexibility in scheduling.

  • Take care of yourself!

Distance Learning - Online Modules/Units

The resources listed below are only a small sample of the quality resources available online for teaching about social studies topics. Below are resources that have modules/units available online that teachers could assign to students as part of a distance learning environment for individual learning. For a more expansive collection of quality resources, please check out the links highlighted at the top of this page.

Variety of Social Studies Strands and Topics

Civics & Government

Personal Finance & Economics

  • EconEdLink - Brought to you by the Council for Economic Education this collection of curated resources that align with different economic and personal finance ideals. Collections will help guide you and your students through different discussion areas.
  • Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis - Their free economics and personal finance lessons, activities, and readings provide flexibility and real-world connections, making it easier to prepare students with 21st century skills for college and career readiness.
    • Kiddynomics: An Economics Curriculum for Young Learners is a set of lessons designed to introduce young children to the economic way of thinking. Informed decision-making is a critical thinking skill that students can use throughout their school, personal, and work lives.
  • EVERFI K-12 Financial Education - Financial education is more than being able to add dollars and cents. It’s about building better spending habits, instilling confidence, and equipping the next generation with the skills to pursue big financial goals with minimal risk. EVERFI partners with sponsors nationwide to offer interactive, online financial literacy resources to K-12 schools free of charge.
  • Next Gen Personal Finance has developed a collection of lessons, interactives, assessments, and other resources for engaging students with quality personal finance curriculum.
  • Check out the Maine DOE Social Studies Standards & Instruction Personal Finance & Economics web page for additional resources and supporting information.

Geography

  • Mapping the World - These modules are a collection of web-based resources for educators at the American Geographical Society Library.
  • GeoHistory - A collection of GeoHistory lessons from the Arizona Geographic Alliance.
  • National Geographic - Bring National Geographic to your classroom through lesson plans, maps, and reference resources.
  • Check out the Maine DOE Social Studies Standards & Instruction Geography web page for additional resources and supporting information.

History

  • Stanford History Education Group
    • Reading Like A Historian engages students in historical inquiry. Each lesson revolves around a central historical question and features a set of primary documents designed for groups of students with a range of reading skills.
    • Beyond the Bubble unlocks the vast digital archive of the Library of Congress to create History Assessments of Thinking (HATs). Explore over 80 easy-to-use assessments that measure students' historical thinking rather than recall of facts.
    • Civic Online Reasoning - Students are confused about how to evaluate online information. The COR curriculum provides free lessons and assessments that help you teach students to evaluate online information that affects them, their communities, and the world.
  • UMBC Center for History Education - History Labs are a guided approach to historical inquiry for students in the K-12 classroom.
  • America in Class from the National Humanities Center - The lessons present challenging primary resources in a classroom-ready format, with background information and strategies that enable teachers and students to subject texts and images to analysis through close reading.
  • Docs Teach from the National Archives - This online tool for teaching with documents has a collection of activities and lesson plans crafted by educators using documents from the National Archives.
  • Historical Thinking Matters - Each student investigations include a short movie, historical sources, guiding questions, and an essay prompt that can be emailed to the teacher.
  • Big History Project - A free, online social studies course that emphasizes skill development as students draw mind-blowing connections between past, present and future. BHP delivers a big picture look at the world, and helps students develop a framework to organize what they’re learning both in and out of school.
  • Digital History Reader (U.S. History) - This online learning experience is designed to enable students to develop the analytical skills employed by historians.
  • Digital History Reader (European History) - This online learning experience is designed to enable students to develop the analytical skills employed by historians.
  • Civil War Inquiries - Inquiries feature telegram sources and all the materials needed for 2-4 days of instruction on a range of Civil War topics. The inquiries are designed using a new approach to designing instruction for social studies called the Inquiry Design Model (IDM). Each inquiry includes a Blueprint overview of the lesson along with descriptions of the various tasks that make up the inquiry.
  • Check out the Maine DOE Social Studies Standards & Instruction History web page for additional resources and supporting information.

    Other Topics/Categories

    • Newseum - First Amendment and Media Literacy
    • PBS NewsHour - News and current events.
    • News Literacy Project - Empowering educators to teach students the skills they need to become smart, active consumers of news and other information and engaged, informed participants in civic life.
    • World 101 - Understand the issues, forces, and actors that shape our world. From essays and discussion questions to glossaries and up-to-date reading lists, World101 provides comprehensive teaching resources for each of their modules.
      • The World's Largest Lesson in partnership with UNICEF introduces the sustainable development goals to children and young people everywhere.