Standards-based Science and Social Studies curricula spiral through each grade level, requiring students to apply reading, writing, and math skills and exhibit increasing levels of higher-order thinking as they advance from grade to grade. Science and Social Studies units integrate instruction of core content, subject-specific skill development (i.e. measuring volume, identifying geographic features on a map), and content application (i.e. to experiments, research, oral presentations, and written reports).
All students, and urban students in particular, must acquire the background knowledge needed to comprehend complex texts. Beyond decoding and identifying basic meaning, an effective reader must also know the content-specific vocabulary and contextual information the author assumes his or her readers understand in order to be able to learn unfamiliar content and access new information. A rigorous, literacy-based social science curriculum supports this aim. Faculty members develop instructional units and assessments in alignment with the comprehensive California State Standards. Teachers present curriculum in an engaging and challenging format that ensures students master the key concepts and vocabulary while also teaching them to analyze primary sources, debate contrasting points of view, and make cause and-effect connections. Social studies classes provide students the opportunity to hone their nonfiction reading skills and apply content knowledge to written essays and oral presentations. In addition to building content knowledge, these elements of our social studies program directly support our students’ English language and literacy development.