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Social Studies

Grade Nine

Elective Courses in History–Social Science

During the ninth grade, students take elective courses in history–social science. These elective courses, taken over two semesters, could consist of a two-semester sequence focused on a single topic or could be two separate courses on two different subjects. Ideally, these courses will build on the knowledge and experiences students have gained during their previous nine years of school. These courses prepare students for the remaining years of history–social science education mandated in Education Code Section 51225.3 and the standards that will be covered in each of these grades.

Grade Ten

World History, Culture, and Geography: The Modern World

The more than two hundred and fifty year period covered by the tenth-grade course highlights the intensification of a truly global history as people, products, diseases, knowledge, and ideas spread around the world as never before. The course begins with a turning point: the important transition in European systems of governance from divine monarch to a modern definition of a nation-state organized around principles of the Enlightenment. The course ends with the present, providing ample opportunities for teachers to make connections to the globalized world in which students live. As students move through the years 1750 through the present they consider how a modern system of communication and exchange drew peoples of the world into an increasingly complex network of relationships in which Europe and the United States exerted great military and economic power. They explore how people, goods, ideas, and capital traveled throughout and between Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Europe. They analyze the results of these exchanges. The ability to see connections between events and larger social, economic, and political trends may be developed by having students consider the most fundamental changes of the era:

 

  • How did ideas associated with the Enlightenment, the Scientific Revolution, the Age of Reason, and a variety of democratic revolutions develop and impact civil society?
  • Why did imperial powers seek to expand their empires? How did colonies respond? What were the legacies of these conquests?
  • Why was the modern period defined by global conflict and cooperation, economic growth and collapse, and global independence and connection?
  • The emergence of industrial production as the dominant economic force that shaped the world economy and created a related culture of consumption
  • Increasing human impact on the natural and physical environment through the growth in world population, especially urban settings where populations engaged in mass consumption through mechanical and chemical developments related to the Industrial Revolution.
  • Imperial expansion across the globe and the growth of nation-states as the most common form of political organization
  • The application of industrial technology and scientific advancements to the development of mechanized warfare, which drew millions of people into the experience of “total war”
  • The conflict between economic and political systems that defined the post-World War II period
  • The emergence of ideas of universal rights and popular sovereignty for all individuals, regardless of gender, class, religion, or race, which spread around the world

 

The content covered in grade ten is expansive, and the discipline-specific skills that are to be taught are equally demanding. In order to highlight significant developments, trends, and events, teachers should use framing questions around which their curriculum may be organized. Organizing content around questions of historical significance allows students to develop certain content areas in great depth. Framing questions also allow teachers the leeway to prioritize their content and highlight particular skills through students’ investigations of the past. Moreover, through an in-depth study of individual events and people, students can trace the development of even larger themes, such as the quest for liberty and justice, the influence and redefinition of national identity, and the rights and responsibilities of individual citizens. 

Grade Eleven

United States History and Geography: Continuity and Change in Modern United States History

  • How did the federal government grow between the late nineteenth and twenty-first centuries?
  • What does it mean to be an American in modern times?
  • How did the United States become a superpower?
  • How did the United States’ population become more diverse over the twentieth century?

In this course students examine major developments and turning points in American history from the late nineteenth century to the present. During the year the following themes are emphasized: the expanding role of the federal government; the emergence of a modern corporate economy and the role of organized labor; the role of the federal government and Federal Reserve System in regulating the economy; the impact of technology on American society and culture; changes in racial, ethnic, and gender dynamics in American society; the movements toward equal rights for racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities and women; and the rise of the United States as a major world power. As students survey nearly 150 years of US history, they learn how geography shaped many of these developments, especially in terms of the country’s position on the globe, its climate, and abundant natural resources. In each unit students examine American culture, including religion, literature, art, music, drama, architecture, education, and the mass media.

The content covered in grade eleven is expansive, and the discipline-specific skills that are to be taught are equally demanding. In order to highlight significant developments, trends, and events, teachers should use framing questions around which their curriculum may be organized. Organizing content around questions of historical significance allows students to develop certain content areas in great depth. Framing questions also allow teachers the 

leeway to prioritize their content and highlight particular skills through students’ investigations of the past. Questions that can frame the year-long content for eleventh grade include: How did the federal government grow between the late 19th and 21st centuries? What does it mean to be an American in modern times? How did the United States become a superpower? How did the United States’ population become more diverse over the 20th century?

 

As students learn American history from the late 1800s through the 2010s, they should be encouraged to develop reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills that will enhance their understanding of the content. As in earlier grades, students should be taught that history is an investigative discipline, one that is continually reshaped based on primary source research and on new perspectives that can be uncovered. Students should be encouraged to read multiple primary and secondary documents; to understand multiple perspectives; to learn about how some things change over time and others tend not to; and they should appreciate that each historical era has its own context and it is up to the student of history to make sense of the past on these terms and by asking questions about it.

Grade Twelve

Principles of American Democracy (One Semester)

  • What are the key elements of representative democracy and how did they develop over time?
  • What are the trade-offs between majority rule and individual rights?
  • How much power should government have over its citizens?
  • What rights and responsibilities does a citizen have in a democracy?
  • How do people get elected?
  • Why does the government work sometimes and not others?
  • What problems are posed by representative government and how can they be addressed?

In this course students apply knowledge gained in previous years of study to pursue a deeper understanding of American government. Although this course is traditionally taught for a semester, given the importance and breadth of this content area, teachers may want to expand it into a year-long course. They consider the role of and necessity for government as they think about How much power should government have over its citizens? They’ll consider how government can accomplish goals sanctioned by the majority while protecting its citizens from the abuse of power by asking, What are the trade-offs between majority rule and the protection of individual rights? They will review and expand their knowledge of the key elements of our representative form of democracy, such as the idea that the authority to govern resides in its citizens.

 

Their study will be grounded in the understanding that all citizens have certain inalienable rights such as due process, what to believe, and where and how to live. This course is the culmination of the civic literacy strand of history-social studies that prepares students to vote, and to be informed, skilled, and engaged participants in civic life. As this course progresses, students will learn about the responsibilities they have or will soon have as voting members of an informed electorate as they consider the question, What rights and responsibilities does a citizen have in a democracy? They’ll learn about the benefits to democracy of an electorate willing to compromise, practice genuine tolerance and respect of others, and actively engage in an ethical and civil society. They’ll discover that all citizens have the power to elect and change their representatives —a power protected by free speech, thought, and assembly guarantees. 

 

Principles of Economics (One Semester)

  • How is economics about scarcity, investment, growth, employment, competition, protection, entrepreneurship, and markets?
  • What is capitalism? What are its benefits and problems?
  • What does it mean to be financially literate?
  • How do worldwide markets affect me?

The study of twelfth-grade economics provides students with a unique opportunity to consider the impact of choice upon individuals, groups, and institutions. It offers a lens to understand and analyze human behavior and it builds a student’s ability to make informed decisions based upon relevant economic information such as: an analysis of costs and benefits; the trade-offs between consumption, investment, and savings; the availability and allocation of natural resources; the distribution of resources among investors, managers, workers, and innovation; the role of the government in supporting, taxing, and investing in industries; and human and physical capital. The discipline also provides an important frame from which to consider the impact of governmental action (or inaction) on the lives of its citizens. Understanding how the economy functions and how economic reasoning can inform decision making will provide students with the tools they need to become financially literate and independent. Economics is the study of how people choose to use resources. It is also a discipline that analyzes how to promote productive economic activity such as entrepreneurship, education and government investment in infrastructure, research; it studies how to promote full employment, fair wage growth, and return on capital; it explores how to avoid financial dislocations and predatory business practices; and it argues how best to provide basic safety-net supports such as retirement for each citizen. The resources people use are land, labor, and capital; these resources are finite, or what some people call scarce. Scarcity means that resources, such as natural and human resources, are limited in quantity compared with the competing demands for their use. In this one-semester economics course, students examine more deeply the choices they make and explore how these choices have consequences that ripple across the world.

 

One question that can frame the course is: How is economics about scarcity, investment, growth, employment, competition, protection, entrepreneurship, and markets? By learning about economics through questions, students will deepen their understanding of fundamental economic concepts like cost-benefit analysis; they will analyze the American economy in a global setting; they will explore how the federal government affects the American economy; they will learn about the labor market in a national and global setting and see themselves in it by identifying which jobs will be growing in the near future and what the education requirements are for certain jobs; they will analyze aggregate economic behavior of the US to learn about how unemployment and interest rates, for example, affect the country; and they will explore issues related to international trade. To achieve all of this, students learn to apply basic economic principles and methods of analysis, building on the knowledge of economics gained in their studies in earlier grade levels. In kindergarten, students learn that they make choices. By twelfth grade, they apply economic concepts to the decisions they make in their own lives and to the economic, social, and political issues that dominate the world around them.

 

For additional information, please visit the California Department of Education website.

Department Chair

Sayles, Gerard
Teacher

Social Studies Teachers

Alvarez, Alejandro
Teacher
Andres, Constantine
Teacher
Craycraft, Timothy
Teacher
Igori, Alexander
Teacher
Johnson, Jason
Teacher
McLeod, Vincent
Teacher
Reyes, Ricardo
Teacher
Sayles, Gerard
Teacher
Simmerman, Loretta
Teacher