Social Studies

Social studies teaches students not what to think, but how to think. The knowledge, skills and dispositions gained through social studies allow students to make informed decisions and participate fully in civic life. Engagement in social studies provides students with the opportunity to learn about their world and become active and involved members of their local and global communities.


The Maine Department of Education recognizes that social studies is an integral part of a comprehensive education preparing learners for college, careers and civic life. Through the study of each of the four strands of social studies—civics and government, personal finance and economics, geography, and history—students are provided with opportunities to acquire and apply knowledge and skills in a variety of authentic contexts. 

As part of the Maine DOE's commitment to supporting schools in the delivery of effective K-12 social studies instructional programs, this site offers teachers, administrators, nonprofits, higher education faculty, parents and community members with a broad range of resources reflective of Maine’s learning standards.

The State of Maine recently completed a mandatory Social Studies review process. Check out the new Standards and Instruction page to see the revised standards and supporting materials.

Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities:

Using Books in Your Social Studies Classroom

Join Crystal Polk (MSAD 58) on Wednesday, March 10 at 3:30pm ET as she talks about different strategies and activities you can use to incorporate books into your social studies classroom. Registration is required and educators can register here.

Teaching Wabanaki Studies in Elementary School

Join Brianne Lolar (RSU #34) on Thursday, March 18 at 3:30pm ET as she talks about Wabanaki Studies, otherwise known as LD 291. This law was passed in 2001 and requires K-12 educators to teach about the Indigenous people of Maine, specifically the Wabanaki tribes, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Mi’kmaq, and Abenaki. Brianne is a lower elementary practicing teacher who will offer resources and tips on how to integrate the Wabanaki studies curriculum into your existing curriculums. She will also talk briefly about the history of the law and the importance of making this a priority in the classroom. Registration is required and educators can register here.

History Labs for All Students with Bruce Lesh

Join Bruce Lesh (author of Why Won’t You Just Tell Us the Answer) on Tuesday, March 23 at 3pm ET for a session about using History Labs with your students. Students with 504s and IEPs require adaptations to instruction to ensure they have the same opportunity to access learning. Too often teachers restrict more complicated instructional approaches because they feel that their students cannot do the work. This session will provide examples of how to adapt the history lab process so that students with unique needs can engage in the historical inquiry process. Registration is required and educators can register here.

National Geographic Resources in the Classroom

Join 2020 Maine History Teacher of the Year and National Geographic Certified Educator Sarah Bailey (South Portland High School) on Thursday, April 1 at 3:00pm ET as she shares resources from National Geographic that you can use in your classroom! Registration is required and educators can register here.

The Impact of Racial Discrimination on Black American Lives in the Jim Crow Era (1944-1960) with the National Archives

Join the National Archives on Tuesday, April 6th at 3:30pm ET as they talk using primary sources to discuss racial discrimination in the Jim Crow Era. Learn how your students can analyze documents from the holdings of the National Archives to assess the impact of legalized racial segregation on the lives of Black Americans from 1944 – 1960. Aftering analyzing primary sources, students will be able to discuss how Jim Crow, a system of laws and practices set in place to maintain white supremacy, limited the freedom of African Americans. These documents from 1944 – 1960 express the words and actions of people or institutions working to either remove or reinforce race-based barriers to equality. Registration is required and educators can register here.

Teaching the U.S. History and the American Revolution to Elementary Students

On Tuesday, April 13 at 3:00pm ET join Stephanie Connors (Grade 4 Teacher - Mount Vernon Elementary School) as she shares how she incorporates United States History into her elementary classroom using her American Revolution as an example. Registration is required and educators can register here.

What is Intellectual Charity, and Why Does it Matter? (with ThinkerAnalytix)

When you hear the word “charity,” you might think about donating money or time to a good cause. But there’s another meaning of charity that has to do with how we make arguments. “Intellectual charity” is a skill. We practice intellectual charity when we listen to and think about other people's arguments with precision and care - especially when we disagree. Being “charitable” in this context means treating other people’s arguments in the same way you want them to treat yours: as intelligent and well intentioned. Give people the benefit of the doubt, and try to assume best intentions. Sounds simple, but this principle is very hard to practice when you disagree strongly. Why does intellectual charity matter? If you’ve ever been part of a discussion where a point of disagreement turns into a wave of assumptions, faulty evidence and emotional appeals, you’ve experienced the frustration of arguing without an honest exchange of ideas. This type of miscommunication happens everywhere - social media, classrooms, workspaces, and kitchens. The strain of talking past each other, learning nothing new, and feeling misunderstood often ends the discussion without making any progress. The first skill of charity is reading or listening to an argument carefully enough to pinpoint the exact points of disagreement and understand why you disagree. Forging a deeper understanding of someone's argument puts you in a position to ask for clarification and to develop a respectful, rigorous response. On Wednesday, April 14 at 3:00pm ET join Harvard Fellow Nate Otey to learn a simple, practical set of tools that you can use to improve your students' charity skills so they can discuss current issues with precision and care. Registration is required and educators can register here.

Understanding and Teaching The Electoral College

On Tuesday, April 27 at 3:00pm ET join Jamie Karaffa (Social Studies Teacher at Bruce Whittier Middle School) as she shares her recently completed capstone project related to understanding and teaching the Electoral College. Jamie will share different inquiries and approaches related to the Electoral College and Maine’s approach to dividing up our votes. Registration is required and educators can register here.

Writing in the History Classroom

Join Dennis Edmondson (Mt. Ararat HS) on Wednesday, May 5 at 3:00pm ET as he talks about how to teach writing in your history classroom. Registration is required and educators can register here.

Teaching Graphic Biographies with the OER Project

How can we tie together literacy, inclusivity, and all of the advantages of teaching history globally? Join the OER Project on Wednesday, May 12 at 3:30pm ET as they share their engaging graphic biographies of individuals, mostly drawn from the ‘margins’ of world history, carefully built to help students connect these lives to the ‘big stories’ of world history, and with lesson plans that will let them practice visual and textual literacy skills. Your students will love them, and the OER Projects hopes you will too. Registration is required and educators can register here.

Teaching Global Competencies

Join Bobbie Thibodeau (SAD 15) on Wednesday, May 26 at 2:30pm ET as she talks about how to teach “Global Competencies” in your classroom. Registration is required and educators can register here.