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 & Government, Personal Finance & Economics, Geography, History).
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.
- PK-6 - Low Tech/No Tech Distance Learning Lesson Ideas
- 7-12 - Low Tech/No Tech Distance Learning Lesson Ideas
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.
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.
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:
- 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:
- No Tech
- Use Tech: News Literacy Project & Checkology
- 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?
- No Tech: Interview friends and family.
- Use Tech: Use social media to post questions to people to react to your thoughts.
- Interdisciplinary: Research ways in which people react to stressful situations . (Science)
- 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.
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
- EDSITEment! from the National Endowment for the Humanities has a collection of classroom-ready lessons and materials for K-12 social studies education.
- C3 Teachers/Student Inquiries - C3 Teachers is pleased to publish these inquiries collected at different grade levels in a vary to content topics from around the country.
- PBS Learning Media - Maine PBS & PBS have curated FREE, standards-aligned videos, interactives, lesson plans, and more for teachers like you.
- Annenberg Learner/Social Studies & History - A collection of lesson plans related to teaching a variety of social studies topics.
- New Visions Social Studies has developed a strong scope and sequence for Global History and Geography I, Global History and Geography II, and US History and Government. Through the investigation and analysis of primary and secondary sources, students have the opportunity to think critically, and to read, write, and speak like historians, while simultaneously honing literacy and critical thinking skills.
- Check out the Maine DOE Social Studies Standards & Instruction web page for additional resources and supporting information.
Civics & Government
- iCivics provides free resources that engage students in meaningful civic learning.
- Center on Representative Government - These interactive learning modules are a nice introduction to how Congress works, what members of Congress do, and the importance of citizen participation.
- We The Voters - The project encourages voters to make informed choices by providing context for the urgent issues unfolding across America.
- Check out the Maine DOE Social Studies Standards & Instruction Civics & Government web page for additional resources and supporting information.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.