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How to Find Your State Social Studies Standards

How to Find Your State Social Studies Standards

Did you know that every U.S. state has outlined its own set of social studies standards? And we're not talking about the Common Core here. What you might not realize is that your state has outlined the required social studies content that needs to be covered by each grade level band.

Is this the first time you've heard about this? You might be feeling overwhelmed or confused. I get it. So many educators I talk to have no idea that their state has a set of social studies standards that are different from the Common Core Standards. And this is not your fault. So often our schools do not provide the materials and resources necessary to provide a high-quality social studies education. And with the push for larger ELA blocks, social studies has become a marginalized subject.

Ok, so you might be thinking, "Now what?"

Don't worry. No one should go through teaching social studies alone.

First, I've created a helpful tool so that you can easily look up your state social studies standards. Click the link below to open the PDF. Find your state in the list and click the link. You should be looking for a PDF that outlines specifically what needs to be taught in each grade level. This will most likely include standards for geography, history, economics, and civics.

Find Your State Social Studies Standards
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Next, print out a copy of your state social studies standards. Highlight the content that you are required to cover for your grade level. This will most likely include standards for geography, history, economics, and civics.

Then take that copy to your principal along with whatever textbook you have been provided (if you have one at me I've been there!). Ask your principal how they anticipate you will be able to provide your students with a high-quality social studies education with the few materials provided and the minimal time that's been allotted for teaching the subject.

Remind your principal that it becomes an issue of student equity when students are denied a high-quality social studies education. A high-quality social studies education is a non-negotiable. Ask that your principal set aside discretionary funds specifically for social studies. This includes attending professional development as well as high-quality lessons and materials.

If you receive pushback and are tasked with just integrating more social studies into your ELA block, show your principal this long-range study which found that students who received 30 minutes of social studies instruction every day made significant reading gains. In fact, this study found that more time teaching ELA does not lead to the substantial reading gains well-intentioned educators hoped for. I know. This totally sounds counterintuitive, but social studies instruction is the answer to reading gains--not a massive ELA block.

Next, I recommend that you become a member of your state council for the social studies. You can find your state council by jumping onto the National Council for the Social Studies website. Your state council is designed to provide support and guidance. Find a cohort of teachers covering your state standards, and lean into the professional development your state council provides each year. You will likely find a scope and sequence or other resources so that you can effectively cover your state standards.

Finally, give yourself lots of grace. Most teachers are generalists, so you might be teaching content for the first time. This will likely require research and learning. The great thing is that learning on the job is part of the job.

You can find lots of helpful social studies best practices right here on this website, as well as plenty of ready-to-go resources to help save you prep time and keep your students engaged and learning. And of course, you can always send me a direct email at I love to chat and connect with educators.

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