Tag Archives: Social Studies Curriculum

NYS History, The Common Core, And Social Studies


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State Education Building by Matt Wade Photography (Wikimedia User UpstateNYer)The Common Core continues to be in the news, so recently I attended “Uncommon Approaches to the Common Core 2: Inquiry-based Learning Access across the Disciplines” held August 12-13 at the Office of Education in Albany.

One session included 10 breakout groups by geographic area. In the Mid-Hudson discussion group there were about 13 people, double that number in New York City including 10 people from the Queens Library who were not on the attendance list, and over 60 people at the Capital Region group. Some of the other regions were even less attended than the Mid-Hudson group. Continue reading

Bruce Dearstyne: New York History And Education


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State Education Building by Matt Wade Photography (Wikimedia User UpstateNYer)How, and how much, should New York’s young people learn about the history of their own state and community?

The answer to the question of what young people learn about history comes down mostly to what they learn in school social studies classes. New York revised its social studies curriculum from 2012 to 2014 and you can review the results, adopted by the Regents last April online. There is more New York history at the 4th grade level than in the older standards, but almost nothing about local history. Continue reading

Educators: State Ed Department Needs Your Feedback


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State Education Building by Matt Wade Photography (Wikimedia User UpstateNYer)The Board of Regents adopted the New York State K-12 Social Studies Framework at their April 2014 meeting. Since then, the K-12 Social Studies Resource Toolkit project has begun and the creation of a field guide to provide guidance on the instructional impacts of the Framework is underway.

In addition to this work, the State Education Department (SED) is also thinking about how best to restructure the Global History and Geography and United States History and Government Regents examinations. In tackling this task, SED is looking for help informing their decision making. In order to gain the valuable feedback educators in the field can provide, four questions are being asked: Continue reading

Notes On A High School Local History Conference


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SchoolThe high school local history conference is something I recommend every county should do. For the past two years, Rockland County has held such a conference. I attended both conferences and spoke briefly at the first one. This post is dedicated to some of the lessons I learned from the conference.

First, the Historical Society of Rockland County and the County Historian are to be congratulated for organizing the conference and for the people who did attend. The list includes the County Executive, the County Clerk, the County District Attorney, the County Legislative Chair, along with various town supervisors and municipal historians. One never knows where one will find history. For example the District Attorney, who in this case followed in his father’s footsteps, may have tales to tell about prosecutions which became part of the fabric of county history. Certainly the presence of these officials delivered a powerful message in support of local history. Continue reading

Common Core: New York History in New York Schools


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SchoolShould New York students learn about the history of their own state in New York schools?

The question has not been resolved. The State Education Department has been seeking reactions to the latest draft of the New York State Common Core K-12 Social Studies Framework.

The current social studies curriculum dates from the 1990’s. A draft revision completed in 2012 was discussed a number of times in this New York State History Blog over the past couple of years. Continue reading

Putting the Brakes on the Common Core


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Common CoreWhat follows is a guest post by Gordon Bonnet, author of the blog Skeptophilia.

If you want to get a near-violent response from 98% of current public school students, about 75% of teachers, and unknown (but probably large) percentage of parents, administrators, and various other folks associated with education, all you have to do is utter two words:  Common Core.

It’s a funny thing, really.  On the surface, it seems like such a good idea — creating a set of uniform standards, high ones, that establish what students at every level should know and should be able to do.  Of course, there’s the immediate knee-jerk reaction from both the Right and the Left — Right-Wingers resent the intrusion by the federal government into what rightfully should be state or local decision-making, and Left-Wingers hate the infringement that the new mandates will have on the freedom of teachers to teach as they see fit and as their students might need. Continue reading

History Education and Teaching Social Studies


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SchoolTeaching is in the news. Especially the apparent lack of it. The initial test results under the Common Core standards are abysmal and they are wreaking its havoc in the school systems of America. The Common Core now being implemented may not be garner the same attention as Obamacare, but it has generated considerable vociferous and intense condemnation, including calls to cease and desist here in New York. John King, the Commissioner of Education in NYS, cancelled his original statewide tour of public forums when the first one spun out of control, although he has begun a new round.

The new social studies curriculum is scheduled for 2015, the first update since 1996. That curriculum is sure to be a topic of discussion at the annual conference of the New York State Council of Social Studies in Albany in March.  The theme of the conference is “Linking Communities Together: Academic, Civic and Cultural.” Continue reading

Doing Better Than A ‘Path Through History’


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nycapitolThe recent posts on the role of the municipal historians and the Path through History project have touched a nerve, several actually, as reflected in the emails I have received. Great!

There are serious issues which need to be addressed and few if any forums for discussion. It is astonishing how many people in the history community are not aware of the Path through History project or who have already given up on it on being anything credible – “an elegant show,” “the fix is in,” “I never heard of it.” In this post, I would like to share some things which are being done and suggest some things which should be done. Continue reading

Should We Teach NY State and Local History?


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If you have an opinion on whether or not New York State and local history should be taught in our public schools, now is the time to speak up.

As noted on September 17 here at the online news magazine New York History, the State Education Department has released a draft version of the “New York State Common Core K-8 Social Studies Framework” for review and comment until October 11 [online]. There is a link there for people to submit comments. After revision, the document will go to the Board of Regents for adoption as state education policy. Continue reading

What’s Our Story? NY’s Paths Through History


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It is time for me to put up or shut up. My previous two posts have been about the Path through History project. I said the conference was a good first step but that the project was at the proverbial fork in the road. Many people in the historic community have witnessed these periodic forays into the world of cultural heritage tourism and our leery about another such effort no matter how sincere. I have pointed out some of what has been done already by different organizations throughout the state and raised the issue of where this project fits in given what has occurred.
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Teaching the Hudson Valley from Civil War to Civil Rights


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Educators are invited to discover new ways to use the region’s special places to teach about controversy and decision making at In Conflict Crises: Teaching the Hudson Valley from Civil War to Civil Rights and Beyond. Registration is now open for THV’s annual institute, July 24-26, at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Home and Presidential Library in Hyde Park.

This year’s opening talk, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize: Controversy and  Connection in the Classroom of Life, will feature Kim and Reggie Harris, musicians, storytellers, educators, and interpreters of history. Accepting THV’s invitation they wrote, “Our nation’s history is filled with conflict, opposition, controversy, and crisis, but is also rich in perseverance, collaboration, determination, and compromise. We look forward to reflecting on ways to use these realities to prepare students to be thinkers and problem solvers.”

During the institute, more than 15 workshops will connect educators with historians, writers, and scientists, as well as their colleagues from schools, parks, and historic sites throughout the Valley. Topics include
Evaluating Scientific Claims (Cary Institute), Using ELA Common Core to Teach Controversy (Lewisboro Elementary School teachers), and Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State and the Civil War, (New York State Museum).

On day 2 of the institute participants will choose one of six in-depth field experiences at Columbia County History Museum (Kinderhook), Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site and FDR Presidential Library (Hyde Park), Fishkill Depot, Katherine W. Davis River Walk Center (Sleepy Hollow), Mount Gulian Historic Site (Beacon), or Palisaides Interstate Park.

You can find out more about the program online

Photo: Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site, courtesy Bill Urbin, Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites, National Park Service.

Social Studies Curriculum: A Modest Proposal II


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Regular readers of my posts know that the role of civics was an important point of contention raised at the recent annual conference of the New York State Council for the Social Studies. Such readers also know I have consistently advocated on behalf of local history both for the pedagogy of teaching critical skills beginning with one’s own backyard to the civic benefit of developing a sense of place, a sense of belonging, and a sense of community. Those concerns affect not only an individual’s sense of identity with the immediate area where one lives but also with the country as a whole where one is a citizen. Continue reading

Teaching NY Social Studies: A Modest Proposal


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What do we need to do so when we pass the torch to next generation it is ready to grab it? With the upcoming vote by the New York State Regents on the social studies requirements for a high school diploma and the ongoing issue of the Common Core Curriculum with its lack of citizenship as a goal and probable minimizing of local history, I thought I would take this opportunity to issue my own modest proposal on what should be done. Continue reading

Teaching New York History: Three Frameworks


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The revision of the New York State social studies curriculum should involve, or call on the expertise of, many individuals and historical groups, or they should consider proactively advancing their suggestions. Peter Feinman’s recent post included the resolutions of the annual meeting in March of the New York State Social Studies Council, articulating the concerns of social studies teachers and reaffirming the importance of social studies. Continue reading

Late-Breaking: Failed Tests and the NYS Regents


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The New York State Board of Regents will be meeting on Monday and Tuesday, April 23-24, in Albany. The meeting overlaps with the Museumwise/MANY conference in Albany which I will be attending and the Public Historians meeting in Long Island which I will not be able to attend since I already had registered for the Albany meeting. Communication and planning among the various groups leaves a lot to be desired. Continue reading

Peter Feinman: Social Studies Curriculum Resolutions


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At the annual statewide conference of social studies teachers, the NYSCSS board passed the following resolutions which have now been disseminated to the members through the NYSCSS website and publication. They express the concern by the NYSCSS over the diminished role of social studies in k-12 education and of the prospect of English teachers, more formally, ELA teachers, using historic documents to teach reading without being trained in the historical context which produced those primary source documents. It would be like teaching Shakespeare without being aware of the Elizabethan context during which he wrote. Continue reading