Where Can Teachers Find Resources to Implement the New California History/Social Science Framework?


During the past decade, especially at the elementary grades, history, social science, and civics have been neglected in many districts. As the country’s founders and the original advocates for public education were well aware, the survival of our democracy depends in large part on developing an attachment to our democratic ideals and practices as well as an historical perspective in each new generation. Since for several years we as a country and state have fallen short of our obligations to pass on these beliefs and supporting knowledge, the framework comes at a crucial time. It should provide a useful tool for the revitalization of the teaching of history, civics, geography, and economics in California’s schools. The framework adds much new content and contains several major shifts from previous documents. The framework:


  • Provides a much more active classroom instruction with each grade chapter posing engaging questions to encourage deeper learning for students.
  • Places a much greater emphasis on understanding our democracy and civic engagement throughout the grade levels—the knowledge of the basic principles of our democratic ideals, the struggles to honor those beliefs, the effort to incorporate democratic habits of discussion and debate into the classroom and school, and the involvement of students in projects such as Model UN and learning opportunities for civic participation and service learning.
  • Reflects the growing diversity of California’s students and the efforts in this country to broaden the social, economic, and political inclusion of all Americans.
  • Combines the power and engagement of strong narrative with the analytic skills of how to examine and evaluate primary and secondary sources, distinguish fact from fiction, conduct credible discussions, write essays or undertake projects on pertinent topics and perceive historical connections between current and past issues.
  • Follows our California History/Social Science standards as updated by legislation and is organized chronologically to cover United States and California history, world history, and incorporates civic, economic, geographic, and environmental ideas in each grade.


California Department of Education Website Links

The first place to look for resources and classroom ideas is the framework itself. Its individual grade level chapters contain useful links. https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/cf/sbedrafthssfw.asp (These links and the following links can be found at the California Department of Education (CDE) website page at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/)

Additionally, the framework’s appendices are an invaluable resource and can be found at https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/rl/.

  • Appendix A: Problems, Questions and Themes in History and Geography–seven key themes in History/Social Science. (page 847)
  • Appendix C covers teaching the Contemporary World (page 899)
  • Appendix D covers civics: Educating for Democracy: Civic Education in the History/Social Science framework. (page 919)
  • Appendix E relates to the teaching of religion in the framework. (page 930)
  • Appendix F deals with California and the Environment Initiative. (page 939) with curricular units
  • Appendix G outlines the capacities of literate individuals. (page 975)
  • Appendix H addresses Practicing Civic Engagement; Service Learning in the H/SS Framework. (page 978)

The CDE also lists the ten recently adopted instructional materials for K-8. https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/im/hssadoptedprograms.asp.

CDE provides links to resources which support the new framework. https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/re/ Further, there is a general recommended literature list which should be helpful with supporting materials such as biographies. https://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/cr/rl/  The CDE is currently working on a list of supporting materials specific to the H/SS framework.


The California History/Social Science Project

Their website has a wealth of resources to support the framework. (http://chssp.ucdavis.edu)

    • Their main framework page includes details on upcoming conferences, and links to other resources  (http://chssp.ucdavis.edu/programs/framework)
    • Their newest resource is a Textbook Adoption page, which includes their just-released adoption toolkit, and two blogs with strategies to help schools and districts pick resources for their teachers and students. (http://chssp.ucdavis.edu/programs/adoption)
    • Another popular tool is their Question Matrix – all of the Framework questions, organized by grade level in an excel spreadsheet with columns to help teachers align their existing resources with the new Framework. https://ucdavis.app.box.com/v/guidingquestions.

o   History Blueprint units:  massive units for grades 7 (Sites of Encounter in the Medieval World), 8 (Civil War), and 10 and 11 (Cold War).  All units incorporate inquiry approach, provide support for student literacy, primary sources, and innovative assessments. (http://chssp.ucdavis.edu/programs/historyblueprint)

o   ELD collection – three shorter lessons with specific support for English learners for grade 5 (American Revolution), 8 (Westward Expansion), and 10 (Democratic Roots). (http://chssp.ucdavis.edu/el-support)

    • Current Context – this resource highlights the Citizenship piece by putting current events in historical context.  Moreover, this year’s series includes a special focus on environmental literacy – recent issues focused on Water (Oroville Dam), and Forest Fires. (http://chssp.ucdavis.edu/current-context)
    • Environmental Literacy Webinars:  four part recorded webinar series that offers teachers both a description of how using the environment in HSS classrooms can engage students and concrete lesson plans so they can give it a try. (http://chssp.ucdavis.edu/programs/environment)
    • Teach the Election – another citizenship resource – lots of articles and lessons to help teachers incorporate current events into their history classrooms (http://chssp.ucdavis.edu/programs/election/issues-briefs-and-results)
    • All of these web resources align well with the CHSSP’s professional development programs which are being hosted in schools across California.  They work with school leaders to design introductory sessions, ongoing lesson study and original curriculum, and alignment to current school and district reform efforts.  For more information on that, they can contact Nancy McTygue’s office (chssp@ucdavis.edu; 530-752-0572).
    • Teaching California, a new program led by the California Historical Society, in partnership with the CHSSP, will provide a K-12 collection of primary and secondary sources and literacy support for California teachers, aligned to the new Framework.  Currently under development, resources from the collection should be available starting in 2019.  For more information:  http://chssp.ucdavis.edu/blog/teachcal

Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE)

LACOE’s History/Social Science page is chock full of resources.  https://www.lacoe.edu/CurriculumInstruction/HistorySocialScience.aspx Especially, look at the Civic Learning Compendium for the California History-Social Science Framework https://www.lacoe.edu/Portals/0/Curriculum-Instruction/HSS/Civic%20Learning%20Compendium%20FINAL.pdf

Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP)

SERP has developed an extensive series of units on tons of discussion questions for Civics and History. Word Generation: Infusing Civics into Everyday Teaching http://www.buildingbetterschools.com/2017/11/27/serp-word-genera…veryday-teaching/ ‎Other resources can be found at the SERP website http://serpinstitute.org/

For Some Specific Programs Aimed at Civic Education and Engagement

Educating for Democracy

This blog https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/deep_dive/ed4democracy/home/ was developed through a collaboration between the Teaching Channel and the Civic Engagement Research Group (CERG) at the University of California, Riverside http://www.civicsurvey.org/ .  They will be updating this collection on an ongoing basis. To receive updates on new resources and information about civic learning, follow @Ed4Democracy on Twitter and sign up for the Education for Democracy newsletter https://civicsurvey.us4.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=44e708ac3817f6114ff153358&id=befb721765 .

They have also curated a list of relevant, high-quality civic learning materials from national civic education organizations such as the well-respected ICivics.  https://www.teachingchannel.org/blog/deep_dive/ed4democracy/learn-more/



Sam Wineburg’s Research and Units on Evaluating Online Civic Information

Sam Wineburg leads the Stanford History Education group and has produced materials to evaluate online civic information based on their research and reports that students have trouble judging credibility.

Here are the units: Evaluating Information: the Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning https://purl.stanford.edu/fv751yt5934; http://ncsmc.ca.lwvnet.org/files/teaching_students_how_to_identify_fake_news.pdf ;some short history performance assessments. beyondthebubble.stanford.edu ; and some lessons, Reading Like An Historian https://sheg.stanford.edu/history-lessons 

Here also are some articles with relevant research about his approach. https://ed.stanford.edu/news/stanford-researchers-find-students-have-trouble-judging-credibility-information-online ;http://www.niemanlab.org/2017/10/even-smart-people-are-shockingly-bad-at-analyzing-sources-online-this-might-be-an-actual-solution/ ;https://www.poynter.org/news/want-be-better-online-sleuth-learn-read-webpages-fact-checker ; https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2017/09/19/the-nations-report-card-says-it-assesses-critical-thinking-in-history-but-naep-gets-an-f-on-that-score/?utm_term=.eaf92b15c520

These are just some of the resources available but should help many of you in designing top-notch classroom instruction.

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