• Social Studies Course Descriptions
  • The course description describes the big ideas of the course.

  • 1st Grade Social Studies

    In first grade, students develop their understanding of basic concepts and ideas from civics, economics, geography, and history. The context for social studies learning in first grade is the family and the ways they choose to live and work together. To develop students' understanding of the basic social studies concepts, students are asked to think about families nearby and those far away.




    2nd Grade Social Studies

    In second grade, students apply their emerging understanding of civics, economics, geography, and history to their communities and others around the world. Students learn about how their community works, as well as the variety of ways that communities organize themselves. To develop conceptual understanding, students examine the geographic and economic aspects of life in their own neighborhoods and compare them to those of people long ago.


    3rd Grade Social Studies

    In third grade, students begin to explore more complex concepts and ideas from civics, economics, geography, and history as they study the varied backgrounds of people living in Washington and the rest of the United States. Emphasis is on cultures in the United States, including the study of American Indians. Students examine these cultures from the past and in the present and the impact they have had in shaping our contemporary society. They begin to look at issues and events from more than one perspective.


    4th Grade Social Studies

    In fourth grade, students use their understanding of social studies concepts and skills to explore Washington State in the past and present. Students learn about the state's unique geography and key eras in early Washington State history, particularly the treaty-making period. They use this historical perspective to help them make sense of the state's geography, economy, and government today. The cognitive demand of many GLEs begins to include analysis and asks students to look at issues and events from multiple perspectives.


    5th Grade Social Studies

    In fifth grade, students use their understanding of social studies concepts and cause and effect relationships to study the development of the United States up to 1791. By applying what they know from civics, economics and geography, students learn the ideals, principles, and systems that shaped this country's founding. They conclude the fifth grade by applying their understanding of the country's founding and the ideals in the nation's fundamental documents to issues of importance to them today. This learning forms the foundation and understanding of social studies concepts that will provide students with the ability to examine their role in the community, state, nation, and world.


    6th Grade Social Studies

    In sixth grade, students are ready to deepen their understanding of the Earth and its peoples through the study of history, geography, politics, culture, and economic systems. The recommended context for social studies learning in sixth grade is world history and geography. Students begin their examination of the world by exploring the location, place, and spatial organization of the world's major regions. This exploration is then followed by looking at world history from its beginnings. Students are given an opportunity to study a few ancient civilizations deeply. In this way, students develop higher levels of critical thinking by considering why civilizations developed where and when they did and why they declined. Students analyze the interactions among the various cultures, emphasizing their enduring between the contemporary and ancient worlds.


    Middle School Social Studies

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    Grade 7

    In seventh grade, students become more proficient with the core concepts in social studies. There are two recommended contexts in which students can demonstrate this proficiency in the seventh grade. In the first part of the year, students are immersed in world geography and research skills in which they will study five regions of the world: Africa, the Americas, the Middle East (Southwest Asia), Europe/Russia and Central/Southeast Asia. Students will survey each of the regions by examining the peoples, cultures, and resources within a global context. Students will develop their research abilities and apply these skills through multiple research opportunities within the context of each of the five regions. The second part of the year includes the study of Washington State from its earliest inhabitants to the present day. The study of Washington State includes an examination of the various cultural groups that settled in Washington State, the development of the state constitution and key treaties, and the social, political, and economic movements of the 20th century and today. While the contexts of each of the semesters of study may be very different, the purpose of studying these different regions and eras is the same: to develop enduring understandings of the core concepts and ideas in civics, economics, geography, and history.


    Grade 8

    In eighth grade, students develop a new, more abstract level of understanding of social studies concepts. The context for developing this understanding is U.S. history and government from the era of the beginning of the American Revolution to the end of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Students begin the school year learning about the American Revolution, in which the ideas, people, society, and events of the period are evaluated. The second unit centers on the United States Constitution and the development and construction of the United States government. Students will assess how the ideals, values, and principles that drive the United States' culture - including those described in its foundational documents - can be applied to a historical or modern situation. Unit Three analyzes the growth of the United States, especially its expansion westward. Students will describe how the idea of Manifest Destiny and its migration patterns shaped the expansion of the United States. Students will also evaluate the effects that Manifest Destiny had on other cultures. The final unit is a study of the Civil War period. Students will study its causes, events, and effects, especially where social, political, and economic elements are concerned.


    High School Social Studies

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    Grade 10

    In tenth grade, students apply their deeper understanding of social studies concepts on a global scale. The context in the tenth grade is modern world history, 1450 to the present. In World History, students are exposed to a global perspective of our world. Students will develop a greater understanding of the evolution of globalization. More specifically, students will study the development and interaction of cultures, the interactions between humans and the environment, and the creation, expansion, and interaction of economic, political, and social systems. This understanding will develop from a combination of factual knowledge, social science perspectives and analytical skills.


    Grade 11

    In eleventh grade, students taking American Studies will learn a combination of U.S. history and government, 1890 to the present. Students consider multiple accounts of events and issues in order to understand the politics, economics, geography, and history of the United States from a variety of perspectives. In addition, students examine the state and national constitutions and treaties and how these documents govern the rights and responsibilities of all residents and citizens in Washington State and the United States.


    Grade 12

    In twelfth grade, students use the conceptual understandings they have developed in civics, economics, geography, and history to explore pressing issues in our world today. The context for this exploration focuses on contemporary world issues. By applying their learning from previous years to current topics, students situate current world issues in their historical, geographic, political, economic, and cultural contexts. Students are asked to consistently think at an evaluative level in order to be ready to become the next decision makers and leaders of their communities, the nation, and the world.