Social Studies

Welcome to Social Studies

LPS Social Studies:
  • Covers  civics, economics, geography, history; and also includes political science, psychology, sociology and other electives
  • Helps students make informed decisions and work towards improving the community;
  • Develops a strong sense of justice and fairness while learning respect for differing viewpoints;
  • Follows the Nebraska State Social Studies Standards
Historical Thinking and Habits of Mind:

Grade K

Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3

Grade 4

Grade 5


Grade 6

Grade 7

Grade 8

High School


World Hist

U.S. Hist

Government and Politics

Elementary Lib Guides

To access the historical thinking Habits of Mind unit plans and Social Studies curriculum, please click the appropriate grade level button below.  The password is “read”.

Grade K

Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3

Grade 4

Grade 5

Secondary Social Studies PLCs

The three key elements to Social Studies PLC/Data team success include:
1. Trust in each member of the PLC to work toward meeting shared goals.
2. Trust in the building and district administrators to provide guidance and feedback on the process.
3. Consistent message regarding the purpose and goals of PLCs among teachers, school administrations and the district office.

Three Social Studies PLC Observations Regarding Teachers
1. Social Studies PLCs focused on content have often struggled for meaningfulness.
2. Many social studies teachers describe the products of their previous PLCs as “jumping through hoops” or “not a good use of my time”.
3. Nearly every teacher believes that PLCs can work and should be meaningful.

Three Local PLC Findings
1. Failure to contextualize a PLC based on content area and course content (i.e. using a “one-size-fits-all” approach) almost assures less than meaningful PLCs.
2. Pretesting content prior to instruction rarely yields meaningful data.
3. Pretesting and follow-up assessments focused on critical thinking skills and content yield meaningful student data that guides instruction.

Primary Strategy All social studies students must close read to understand the content. All social studies teachers must know how to teach close reading techniques.

Power Standards: Skills Social studies PLCs should focus on teaching students to corroborate, contextualize, source, and to use multiple perspectives. A method for applying these skills and information on the skills is found here.

Underlying Social Studies Standards The Lincoln Public Schools follows and adheres to Nebraska State Social Studies Standards. State Standards are found here:

These standards are modeled after the C3 National Standards that prepare students to be college, career, and civic ready. National Standards are found here:

Instructional Framework The template used to create the social studies lessons posted on docushare can be seen by looking at any of the RLH lessons linked to the Social Studies webpage. One instructional framework to consider when developing social studies lessons can be found here (to be posted).

Social Studies PLCs Expectations All PLCs should work to develop a diagnostic pretest on skills. Subsequent midterm and end-of-term assessments should involve skills and content. Ideally, these assessments will be embedded in the posted lessons.

Sample assessment These How-To guides might be useful for teachers/PLCs when they are developing assessments of historical thinking:

Evidence Based Questions (EBQs)-Overview and How- To Advice

Short Essay Historical Assessments of Thinking Overview and How-To Guide

A Method for Using Historical Thinking in the Classroom

This document explains the basic method for involving students in the process of “doing history.” The process of historical thinking helps develop a deeper and more nuanced historical understanding.

Step One: Framing the Inquiry
To “do history” is to ask a question of the past. This question, or inquiry, shapes every subsequent decision, from what sources we consult to how we know when we have concluded our research. Teachers should consider engaging in Pre-Teaching exercises to help students conceive of why the question is important.
Examples of a framing inquiry or framing question might be:
• “Why did new settlers come to Nebraska and how did they impact the native peoples?”
• “Why did the American Civil War begin?”
Formative assessment possibility: Students give initial response to the framing question, teacher provides feedback to help student focus remain on the framing question.

Step Two: Considering Perspectives, Gathering Resources
If we are to legitimately answer the framing question, the students, guided by the teacher, should decide whose voices need to be heard.
• What perspectives do we need to take into account?
• Where can we find primary documents representing those voices?
NOTE: In many cases, the teacher will have collected the primary resources ahead of time, but it is important to include the students in the process as much as possible.
Formative assessment possibility: Using a T- chart, students list whose perspectives are present or absent. Teacher provides feedback on student responses to help reinforce why multiple perspectives are important in answering the framing question.

Step Three: Applying the Skills
The basic skills of historical thinking are:
|Sourcing|      |Close Reading|      |Contextualization|      |Corroboration|
• We apply Sourcing, Contextualization, and Close Reading to individual documents. Using these skills to understand the document allows us to move closer to answer the framing question. Next, we use Corroboration to compare documents to one another or to secondary sources.
Formative assessment possibility: Students apply each skill to documents. Teacher provides feedback and additional opportunities to practice skills on subsequent documents. See reverse side for an explanation of each individual skill.

Step Four: Drawing Conclusions
Guided by the teacher, students discuss what they have learned from the application of these skills.
• What aspects of the framing question can we definitely answer?
• What aspects are not answered by the evidence we have compiled?
• Can further evidence clarify what is in doubt?
Formative assessment possibility: Students revise their initial answer to the framing question based on what they have learned (See Step 1). Teacher provides feedback regarding whether students are applying new knowledge to the framing question.

Step Five: Demonstrating Historical Understanding
Students who have successfully applied the skills of historical thinking should be able to provide a sophisticated answer to the framing question drawing upon a variety of primary and secondary sources and considering multiple perspectives.
Summative assessment possibility: Students should be ready to be evaluated in a summative assessment process. Students can demonstrate understanding through: class discussion, role play activities, quizzes, exams, papers, or other projects.

Consistently using these skills of historical thinking allows students to develop the habit of thinking like a historian.

Applying the Skills of Historical Thinking

The skills of historical thinking are: sourcing, contextualization, corroboration, and close reading. These skills can be applied to individual primary documents, multiple documents, and secondary sources. Comparing multiple perspectives is another vital skill which requires multiple sources. When analyzing a primary document, historians ask questions of the document to understand where it came from and what we can learn from it. In many instances, the questions we ask require the simultaneous use of multiple skills.

Sourcing – Asking questions about the who, what, when, where and why of the creation of a document. Sourcing should begin before actually reading the document.
• What is the identity of the author? (Typically identified before reading first paragraph).
• When was the document created? (Typically identified before reading first paragraph).
• Who is the intended audience for this document?
• What is the author’s purpose?
• Is this source valid? Why or why not?

Contextualization – Placing the document in the place and time of its creation.
• What was happening at the time that influenced this document?
• Is the document part of an existing debate or controversy (i.e. a political election, the debate over American slavery, a war between nations)?
• What ideas, language or assumptions of the time are apparent in this document? For instance, notions about race, gender or ethnicity.

Corroboration –Comparing different accounts, or multiple perspectives, to gain an accurate picture of the past.
• Where would I look to find sources to confirm or refute this story? What
do other pieces of evidence say?
• Am I finding different versions of the story, event or debate? Why or why not?
• What do secondary sources say about the issue in question? Do they agree with the document(s)? Why or why not?
• What pieces of evidence are most believable? Why?

Close Reading – Close reading consists of two separate but complementary practices. First, students apply reading strategies to discern the meaning of unfamiliar words or phrases. Second, students “read between the lines” to discover clues about motives, agenda, tone, and other subtleties of the author’s claims.
• What words or phrases are unfamiliar? What do they mean? Look to discover the meaning of these words using either reading strategies or additional sources.
• What is the tone of the document (i.e. angry, sarcastic, desperate, authoritative?)
• What important claims does the author make?
• What is the author hoping to achieve with this document?

Considering Multiple Perspectives – Considering multiple perspectives is a form of corroboration involving consciously comparing multiple sources to consider why different individuals or social groups might view the same event, trend or controversy differently.
• Where do the sources agree and disagree?
• If the sources differ, why might that be?
• What individual or group not represented in these sources might have a different opinion?

Some definitions and questions adapted from:
Reisman, Avishag. “Reading Like a Historian: A Document-Based History Curriculum Intervention in Urban High Schools,” Ph.D. Dissertation, Stanford University, 2011.

Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media “History is an argument about the past.” Educational Poster. Fairfax: George Mason University, nd.

Wineburg, Sam, Daisy Martin and Chauncey Monte-Sano. Reading Like a Historian: Teaching Literacy in Middle and High School Classrooms. New York: Teachers College Press, 2011.



Our Department

Dr. Randy Ernst - K-12 Social Studies Curriculum Specialist
Phone: 402-436-1805
Twitter: @randalme

Carol Jaber - Social Studies, Visual Art & World Language Administrative Assistant
Phone: 402-436-1816

Staff Resources

Today In History