Social Studies

The goal of the Guilderland Central School District’s social studies program is to develop students who can draw upon the lessons of history and the social sciences to make reasoned and informed decisions about economic, social, and political questions, their society, and the interdependent world, and who view themselves as participants, benefactors, and contributors to their society and the interdependent world. We want our students to understand what all humankind has in common and to understand values and culture.

After having completed the Guilderland social studies program students will understand:

  • The fundamental concept of place – both physical and human. This understanding will enable students to explain how these features are interrelated to create the unique character of the place. Students will realize the constraints and possibilities that the physical environment places on human development.
  • How ideas, events, and individuals have produced change over time and recognize the conditions and forces that maintain continuity within human societies. To nurture this understanding “narrative history must illuminate vital themes and significant questions, including but reaching beyond the acquisition of useful facts. Students should not be left in doubt about the reasons for remembering certain things, for getting facts straight, for gathering and assessing evidence. “What is it?” is a worthy question and it requires an answer.
  • The cultures, societies, and economic systems that prevail throughout the world and to recognize the political and cultural barriers that divide people as well as the common human qualities that unite them. This understanding should develop an appreciation for the contributions and perspectives offered within the world and classroom community and lead us to greater knowledge and understanding of one another.
  • The scarcity as the basic economic problem confronting all societies and appreciate the ways economic systems seek to resolve the three basic problems of choice (determining what, how, and for whom to produce) created by scarcity. This understanding will lead to knowledge of the basic economic goals, performance and problems of our economic system and realize that it is one of several basic economic systems.
  • The value, importance and the fragility of democratic institutions, develop a keen sense of ethics and citizens, and care deeply about the quality of life in their community, their school, their nation, and their world. This understanding will be fostered through practical experiences in participation, decision making, and conflict resolution within the school and community.
  • Understand the ethical and moral elements present in individual and societal decision makings. This understanding will develop and appreciation and empathy for the connection between ideas and behavior, between values and ideals that people hold and the ethical consequences of those beliefs.
  • Understand their roots, see connections to the past, comprehend their context, recognize the commonality of people across time, and appreciate the balance of rights and responsibilities.

Our social studies classes engage students in the study of history, geography, economics, government, and civics. Instruction draws on other disciplines such as anthropology, sociology, political science, psychology, archeology, religion, law, art, philosophy, literature and the sciences.

In all social studies classes students read, write and think critically, consider the relationships between this discipline and others and between their lives and the lives of others in the contemporary and historical contexts, and seek, analyze and interpret information from a variety of sources. Students also have opportunities in all social studies classes to make and justify decisions in relation to democratic principles, identify and solve problems, recognize value in individual difference and contribution to the group’s understanding, cooperatively work toward group goals, and actively give and receive feedback on individual and group work.

Elementary curriculum

Social Studies at grades K-5 incorporates five unifying themes:

  • Individual Development and Cultural Identity
  • Civic Ideals and Practices
  • Geography, Humans, and the Environment
  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • Economic Systems. 

Additionally, Social Studies Practices represent the social science and historical thinking skills that students should develop throughout their K-12 education in order to be prepared for civic participation, college, and careers. 

  1. Gathering, Interpreting and Using Evidence
  2. Chronological Reasoning and Causation
  3. Comparison and Contextualization
  4. Geographic Reasoning
  5. Economics and Economic Systems
  6. Civic Participation

Learn more about the K-5 Social Studies curriculum:

Middle School curriculum

Social Studies at grades 6-8 incorporate ten unifying themes:

  • Individual Development and Cultural Identity
  • Development, Movement, and Interaction of Cultures
  • Time, Continuity, and Change
  • Geography, Humans, and the Environment
  • Development and Transformation of Social Structures
  • Power, Authority, and Governance
  • Civic Ideals and Practices
  • Creation, Expansion, and Interaction of Economic Systems
  • Science, Technology, and Innovation
  • Global Connections and Exchange

Additionally, Social Studies Practices represent the social science and historical thinking skills that students should develop throughout their K-12 education in order to be prepared for civic participation, college, and careers. 

  1. Gathering, Interpreting and Using Evidence
  2. Chronological Reasoning and Causation
  3. Comparison and Contextualization
  4. Geographic Reasoning
  5. Economics and Economic Systems
  6. Civic Participation

Learn more about the 6-8 Social Studies curriculum:

High School curriculum:

The Social Studies Department strives to ensure that all students are prepared to become active, productive, informed, responsible, and efficacious citizens. Guilderland students are required to take four Social Studies credits that reflect Global History and Geography, U.S. History and Government, Economics, and Public Policy. Not only will students engage with important historical content and related-concepts, but students will also leverage their literacy skills in the areas of close reading, argument and explanatory writing, and using textual evidence. In addition to learning core discipline-specific lenses, students will also focus on building skills to effectively evaluate primary and secondary sources to better understanding the historical past. Additionally, students will also learn how to develop inquiry questions, conduct research, and communicate their findings as active, informed citizens. 

Learn more about Social Studies courses at the high school.

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