Social Studies

There will always be differing perspectives…the goal of knowledgeable, thinking, and active citizens, however, is universal.

~ College, Career and Civic Life C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards

Both Vermont law Title 16 and the Education Quality Standards (EQS 2120.5) require annual K-12 social studies education for Vermont students. The disciplines within social studies are focused on helping “young people make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.” (National Council for the Social Studies)

In 2017, the Vermont State Board of Education adopted the College, Career and Civic Life C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards (C3) to guide the teaching of civics, economics, geography, and history within Vermont. The Agency of Education has provided social studies proficiency-based graduation requirements, which were developed from the C3 standards and developed by Vermont educators, to serve as a sample. These graduation proficiencies are examples of a rigorous proficiency-based graduation framework that meets Education Quality Standards.

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A Vermont Portrait of a Graduate and Social Studies

Sample Graduation Proficiencies for Social Studies

Social Studies Resources

Social Studies Newsletters

A Vermont Portrait of a Graduate and Social Studies 

A Vermont Portrait of a Graduate (PoG) was collaboratively developed to be used as a tool for reviewing and refining local proficiency-based graduation requirements, as well as a guide for making instructional decisions. The PoG specifies the cognitive, personal, and interpersonal skills and abilities that students should be able to demonstrate upon graduation considering six attributes: learner agency, global citizenship, academic proficiency, communication, critical thinking, and well-being. Additionally, each trait includes key descriptors and performance indicators.

Social studies education programs should provide students with valuable learning experiences that support the development of PoG skills and abilities. ­­­The following diagram highlights specific terms that link to the content, skills and attributes developed within the social studies and how they fit into the six attributes of the Vermont Portrait of a Graduate.

A Vermont Portrait of a Graduate (PoG) through Social Studies: The PoG considers six attributes of a lifelong learner: learner agency, global citizenship, academic proficiency, communication, critical thinking and problem solving, and well-being. Each attribute includes key descriptors and performance indicators, many of which can be addressed through Social Studies.

A Vermont Portrait of a Graduate through Social Studies provides a detailed description of how the specific terms identified in this diagram link to the PoG attributes and connect to social studies content and skills with the purpose of assisting students develop the ability to make informed decisions as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.

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Sample Graduation Proficiencies for Social Studies

In 2017, nearly forty K-12 Vermont educators collaborated to develop Sample Graduation Proficiencies for Social Studies based off the newly adopted College, Career, and Civic Life C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards. This sample includes graduation proficiencies and indicators differentiated by grade cluster (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12) and are designed to assist Vermont Supervisory Unions and Districts in designing their curriculum and developing learning expectations for their students.

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Social Studies Resources

(See also Vermont AOE Financial Literacy)  

A Starting Point - A Starting Point (ASP) is a video-based civic engagement platform whose mission is to create a bipartisan channel of communication and connectivity between Americans and their elected officials with the goal of creating a more informed electorate. Elected officials are asked to provide a maximum 2-minute response to questions from categories such as education, immigration, rights, and the environment. Users can hear a response to each question from members of both the Republican and Democratic parties, with new questions and topics updated continuously.

C3 Inquiries - Search K-12 standard-aligned inquiries by grade-level, subject, or keyword to find inquiries “that are intended to serve as pedagogically rich examples of content and skills built out in inquiry-based fashion”. Each sample breaks the overarching inquiry into 3-4 formative assessments, with resources, that will provide enough support for students to not only respond to the inquiry in the summative assessment, but also to consider “Taking Action”.

Civic Education Opportunities and Resources - The purpose of this document is to provide educators and civic leaders with an annotated list of Vermont and nationally-focused civics learning opportunities and resources for their own use, and to be shared with students. Several student-focused opportunities are highlighted.

College, Career and Civic Life C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards - The C3 Standards are “designed to: a) enhance the rigor of the social studies disciplines; b) build critical thinking, problem solving, and participatory skills to become engaged citizens; and c) align academic programs to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies”. 

Common Sense: Best Government and Civics Websites and Games - Common Sense has curated a selection of resources to support educators with helping students grapple with government and learn their rights as human beings and citizens. These websites and games offer students resources to explore the history of political movements, the rise and fall of governmental systems, and the way human rights have evolved over time. While this list isn't limited to the U.S., there's a healthy focus on the rights granted and governed by the U.S. Constitution, voter information for U.S. election, and how the U.S. government operates, including info on the executive, judicial, and legislative branches.

Educating American Democracy Project (EAD) - “The Educating American Democracy Project is call to action to invest in strengthening history and civic learning, and to ensure that civic learning opportunities are delivered equitably throughout the country. The initiative involved a diverse collaboration among over 300 academics, historians, political scientists, K-12 educators, district and state administrators, civics providers, students, and others from across the country”. Content resources are curated by alignment to EAD themes and driving questions, inquiry, rigor, and equity- with a lens to diversity, inclusion and accessibility. Resources can be searched by:

  • Grade level - K-12
  • Theme - such as, “Institutional and Social Transformation”
  • Driving questions - such as, “How am I a part of my community?”
  • Resource type - such as, assessment, unit plan, game, interactive
  • Source - such as, the Library of Congress, the Bill of Rights Institute

Facing History and Ourselves - “Through rigorous historical analysis combined with the study of human behavior, Facing History’s approach heightens students’ understanding of racism, religious intolerance, and prejudice; increases students’ ability to relate history to their own lives; and promotes greater understanding of their roles and responsibilities in a democracy”. Facing History provides professional development and educator resources including “a wide range of flexible, multimedia materials, from primary sources and streaming videos to teaching strategies, lesson plans, and full units”. 

Jump$tart - The National Standards in K-12 Personal Finance Education provide a framework for “a comprehensive personal finance curriculum that begins early in elementary school, builds on foundational knowledge and results in high school graduates who are competent, confident managers of their own money”.

Learning for Justice - (formerly Teaching Tolerance) provides “free resources to educators, teachers, administrators, counselors, and other practitioners who work with children from kindergarten through high school. Resources can be used to supplement the curriculum, to inform their practices, and to create inclusive school communities where children and youth are respected, valued, and welcome participants”.

National Geographic - National Geographic Education provides K-12 resources, such as videos, photographs, lessons, units, and maps, as well as professional development and student experiences, including GeoChallenge and Explorer Classroom.

NewseumED - NewseumED provides standards-aligned lesson plans, videos, artifacts, tools, virtual classes, and other free resources to cultivate the First Amendment and media literacy skills essential to civic life. Learn how to authenticate, analyze and evaluate information from a variety of sources and put current events in historical context.

OER Project - Free educational resources such as Project Score, which provides flexible, scaffolded social studies writing instruction with automated essay scoring and Project X, which allows students to use historical data to predict the future; other OER Project resources include Big History and World History.

On Your Own: Your Legal Rights @ Eighteen - The Vermont Bar Association has published this 6th edition online booklet covering topics such as “If You Are a Victim of a Crime”, “Rights to Free Speech”, “Identity Theft”, and “Welcome to the Voting Booth”. Originally designed as a resource for students prior to high school graduation, this booklet is provides valuable information for a population beyond high school seniors.

PBS Learning Media - Thousands of free teaching resources including videos, lesson plans, and games aligned to state and national standards.

The Vermont Agency of Education and Vermont PBS have expanded their partnership to support learning for Vermont students and school communities. One example of this partnership is the development of Incorporating PBS into Your Classroom documents, which are organized by content area as well as grade level and make connections between PBS programs, standards, and supplemental resources. Social studies resources (pages 3-4) provide connections to shows such as Let’s Go Luna, History Detectives, and American Experience.

PBS-Structured Academic Controversy - Educator instructions on how to conduct a highly structured, small group discussion that is designed to help students achieve three goals: 1) to gain a deeper understanding of an issue, 2) to find common ground, and 3) to make a decision based on evidence and logic.

Stanford History Education Group (SHEG) - SHEG provides professional development opportunities; assessments - History Assessments of Thinking (HATs) are easy-to-use assessments that measure students' historical thinking rather than recall of facts; and, lesson plans - The Reading Like a Historian curriculum engages students in historical inquiry with  lessons that revolve around a central historical question and feature a set of primary documents, which support differing student reading abilities.

United Nations: The 17 Goals - The Sustainable Development Goals, “recognize that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand-in-hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth”.

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Social Studies Newsletters

June 2021

January 2021

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