In this part of the session, the participant will experience an instructionally sound and highly literate social studies classroom exemplar. Within this experience, he/she will understand how to integrate the five strands of Social Studies, how to use a conceptual focus in instruction, how to actively engage all students, and how to promote inquiry based learning. In accomplishing the objectives of this part of the session, the participant will work individually and collaboratively as a small and whole group.


The learning objectives associated with this part of the session are:
1. What resources are available to assist with the implementation of NCSCoS.
2. What it means to be literate in Social Studies.
3. How to help my students become more competent in disciplinary literacy skills.
4. How to use data to meet the instructional needs of all students.
5. How to effectively embed technology into instructional planning.
7. How to apply the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards in theSocial Studies classroom.

Aligned North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards
Standard I - Teachers demonstrate leadership.
Standard II - Teachers establish a respectful environment for a diverse population of students.
Standard III - Teachers know the content they teach.
Standard IV - Teachers facilitate learning for their students.
Standards V - Teachers reflect on their practice.

Learning Targets

After this part of the session, participants will be able to do the following statements:
  • I can understand how to assess a learning experience through examining a topic through a variety of different discipline lenses in order to understand how knowledge changes based on the perspective from which it is viewed.
  • I can use the formative assessment process to examine student progress.
  • I can envision the integration of the five strands of Social Studies in a learning experience.
  • I can identify elements of the Common Core State Literacy Standards in History/Social Studies in a learning experience.
  • I can collaborate as a group and whole class to engage in a highly literate Social Studies learning experience.

OBJECTIVES -PART ONE Table for objectives.jpg
OBJECTIVES -PART ONE Table for objectives.jpg

Welcome to a 7th grade learning experience!
Unit Title: Global Interactions – Age of Imperialism

Lesson: The Impact of European Imperialism: Africa, Asia, and the Americas

Learning Experience: Document Discovery

This lesson will focus on the following problem: How can nations acquire land, resources and markets without compromising, altering or destroying the nations or regions they seek to control?

Question: Why have a problem?
Answer: Incorporating some type of problem or issue into the unit or lesson helps to set the stage for inquiry. As the student progresses through the learning and participates in the various learning experiences they focus on using and learning content to process information and solve problems. “Inquiry implies involvement that leads to understanding … possessing skills and attitudes that permit you to seek resolutions to questions and issues while you construct new knowledge.” (Thirteen.org)


I. Beginning with the end in mind (Backwards Design)
In order to ensure that learning experiences will prepare students for assessments within a unit, let's start with a performance task.

  • Performance Task: a way to assess what students know, understand, and can do at the end of a unit.
  • Learning experiences: the situations and tasks in which students engage that help them process the content, as well as, develop skills during various classroom lessons that have been developed from an overall unit. These student engagements prepare them for success on the final performance task.

  • Today's Performance Task Example: Below is an example of a performance task that would assess the learning experiences participants will engage in during today's session.
    • You are a member of an expert team of geographers, historians, government officials, anthropologists and economists. Your team has been charged with preparing and delivering a report at an International Conference on Imperialism a year prior to the outbreak of World War I. Your team’s report should identify what your group of experts has determined to be the motivating factors for and positive and negative effects of nations competing for resources. Each team’s report and presentation should be able to articulate the reasons they feel are the best in justifying or refuting as to if it is inevitable that a developing nation will fall under the control of a developed nation if its resources are valuable.

Click onto the PDF file below to download the complete performance task:

II. Setting the stage
A. Making a connection to what it means to be literate in Social Studies
Each sub discipline of Social Studies has its own unique processes, approaches, tools and knowledge base, therefore students should be engaged in learning experiences that will allow them to become “practitioners” in each sub discipline in order to apply the unique processes, approaches, tools, and knowledge base to solve authentic, complex problems and issues. (Erickson, 21) Consequently, students will begin to develop disciplinary ways of knowing, understanding, and doing that build over time. Not only will students become literate in the sub disciplines, but they will also begin to use this disciplinary knowledge in interdisciplinary studies.

B. Anticipatory Set/Hook
-1st, read the following quote and reflect upon it based on the directions below:

“Everything, including all people, exists only through relationships with other people or things. Nothing exists in isolation or absolute independence. No person or thing can arise of, for, or by its own accord. Everything is interdependent.” ~Taro Gold

-2nd, decide if you believe that it is more important to the whole of humanity to preserve a culture and its people or is it more important to cultivate the spirit of enterprise and the acquisition of land and resources.
-3rd, discuss your thoughts at your table or within your group.
-4th, be prepared to share with the group.

III. Primary and Secondary Source Learning Experience (one of several in a unit)

Participation Directions:
  • In this learning experience, each group will focus on one of the five conceptual strands of the NC Essential Standards for Social Studies by representing a specific expert group of social scientists.
  • Each table should have a document to analyze based on the assigned strand (e.g. the History Stand Center gets a History document).
  • There are five to six primary or secondary sources in each packet. Each person in the group should decide which document they would like to work with.
  • Once each person has a document to analyze, open your "Strand" document and scroll through the document to find the questions aligned with your source.
  • Once each person in the group has answered the guiding questions, they will meet with the larger community of social scientists to discuss the questions and sources. Everyone will then use this experience and information to assist with analyzing artifacts.

Additionally, this learning experience will give participants some possible ideas on how one might incorporate the K-12 Social Studies graphic organizers as instructional tools.

  • History

  • Civics and Government

  • Economics and Financial Literacy

  • Geography and Environmental Literacy

  • Cultures

Share and Tell – Primary and Secondary Source Learning Experience:
  • As a group, each group member should take 1-2 minutes to share and summarize the source that he/she analyzed.

IV. Team Analysis of Artifacts Learning Experience
  • Participants can count from 1 to 5 and move to the appropriate group for this activity.
  • Move to appropriate table or group.
  • Each person should take on the expert role they worked with in order to brainstorm and dialogue about the types of questions that a particular social scientist would ask if they had to examine the artifacts as an expert consultant in a field of social studies.
  • Discuss as a group and be prepared to share out to the whole class your group's discussion about how to address the problem that set the stage for inquiry at the beginning of the lesson. (How can nations acquire land, resources and markets without compromising, altering or destroying the nations or regions they seek to control?)
  • If you need guidance on how to analyze these artifacts while maintaining the viewpoint of your expert, use the questions in the document below:

Share and Tell – Artifacts Learning experience:
  • As a group, share out to the whole class your group's discussion about what your artifacts symbolized or represented and your discussions about the problem.

V. Revisit Action Plan OR Reflect In Your Penzu Journal
  • When you finish analyzing your documents and artifacts, return to your action plan or Penzu journal and consider how what you have learned so far can be incorporated into your plans for PD or instruction.


Disciplinary literacy

We began the day by considering the power of concepts and components of effective social studies teaching and learning. The implementation of using a conceptual framework will require us to change how we approach teaching in the classroom. To implement these new changes in teaching using the new essential standards, we need to dig beyond the definition of social studies we saw earlier and explore a deeper goal: helping our students (and teachers!) become literate in the social studies!

I. What Comes to Mind When You Think About Disciplinary Literacy?

Disciplinary literacy is anchored in the specifics of individual disciplines. Each discipline has its own unique knowledge core and its own ways of inquiring, investigating, reasoning, representing, and forming driving questions in a particular field. The following chart provides a comparison of content area literacy and disciplinary literacy. Disciplinary literacy focuses on the specialized skills used in different fields of study and how experts approach reading and writing within their disciplines. How do the experts in the various fields of social studies read and write within their disciplines? In other words, what do economists or historians consider when they read a text? What does literacy look like through the lens of a political or behavioral scientist? How do geographers write a text to be understood by others in their field?

II. Comparison of Content-area Literacy to Disciplinary Literacy (Shanahan, 2010)

Content-Area Literacy
Disciplinary Literacy
Reading experts (1920s)
Wide range of experts
Generalized skills
Specialized, discipline specific skills
Use of reading and writing to learning information
Use of literacy skills to make meaning within a discipline
Geared toward remedial students
Geared toward all students
Often encourages use of literary texts
Focuses only on discipline-specific texts
Graphics are ignored or taught generally
Graphics are specific to the discipline

III. Key Points in Understanding Disciplinary Literacy
Watch the following video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWcVag7X8MA
{Special Note: Although the expert in this short clip references science, her discussion can easily be transferred to social studies. When she uses the word science, social studies educators can mentally replace the word science for social studies or social science. The same information and examples she uses for science are applicable to and appropriate for social studies.}

IV. Disciplinary Literacies Defined
Disciplinary literacies are literacy skills necessary in order to be able to understand about a specific discipline, i.e., geography, civics, history, math, science, health, drama, etc. Some examples of the types of literacy skills being referred to in the statement above are:
  • Social studies vocabulary
  • Reading social studies text
  • Understanding the structure of the knowledge being presented
  • Understanding what constitutes evidence and how it is presented in a certain area of study i.e., geography, economics, history, math, art, etc.
  • Good social studies readers pay more attention to headings, subheadings, diagrams, captions, graphics, images, charts, maps and tables, etc.
  • In the case of social studies the learner is often looking for a preponderance of the evidence so that they may be able to draw a conclusion. Whereas in mathematics, for example, the learner would be looking for one case or situation that is not true in order to disprove something.

The videos below may also provide some help in understanding conceptions of literacy within a specific discipline.
Behavioral Science

V. How Does Disciplinary Literacy Connect to the Common Core Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies?
The literacy standards in History/Social Studies list the general skills to be developed. These skills are developed using the content of social studies. Social studies teachers will use the literacy skills to make meaning within a particular discipline of social studies (i.e., geography, civics, economics, history).

Common Core State Standards for English/Language Arts
Common Core State Standards: Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects Chart

VI. More Information and Reflection
A. If you would like more information on Disciplinary Literacy, open the document below:

B. Revisit Your Action Plan or Reflect in Your Penzu Journal
  • Return to your action plan or Penzu journal and consider how what you have learned about disciplinary literacy can be incorporated or the kind of PD you think you may need to consider or plan.

Learning Experiences and Disciplinary Literacy Reflection Time
Click onto the link below to assess where you are by the end of this section.
1 refl.jpg
Let the Teacher Know

Additional Resources

Instructional Resources

Wiebe, Glenn. “Common Core Standards and the Problem for Social Studies.” History Tech. 2010. < http://historytech.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/common-core-standards-and-the-problem-for-social-studies/>
This article addresses the importance of keeping students thinking when implementing the Common Core Standards.

Wiebe, Glenn. “Tip of the Week: Social Studies and the Common Core.” History Tech. 2012. < http://historytech.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/tip-of-the-week-social-studies-and-the-common-core/ >
Explains how Science and Socials Studies can drive school wide curriculum while learning embedded math and language arts skills.

  • Rubric Samples

Imperialism Resources
  • Here are the documents, files and pictures of artifacts if you would like to have a digital copy of the handouts.


Disciplinary Literacy
Piercy, Thomasina and William. Disciplinary Literacy: Refining Deep Understanding and Leadership for 21st Century Demands. (2011) Englewood: The Lead and Learn Press.
This source examines the different types of literacy that can enhance student engagement.


Digital tools used during the course of this presentation have been helpful to some educators across the state. However, due to the rapidly changing
digital environment, NCDPI does not represent nor endorse that these tools are the exclusive digital tools for the purposes outlined during the presentation.

Return to Day One Agenda