Social Studies Department Revamps Curriculum
Social Studies teachers at South Seneca have been working hard to update their class curriculum to focus more on conceptual learning through an inquiry-based approach to instruction.
This evolution is part of a broader effort across New York State – called the NYS Social Studies Framework – which aims to better prepare students for college, careers and participation in civic life. The transformation of Social Studies instruction is focused around three major instructional shifts that are defined as:
- Focus on Conceptual Understanding
- Foster Student Inquiry, Collaboration and Informed Action
- Integrate Content and Skills Purposefully.
With a greater emphasis on analysis and conceptual understanding, the new curriculum is designed to better prepare students for a modern cultural and media landscape.
“I think these changes are relevant to the changing need of students in becoming positive contributors of the community,” said South Seneca High School Social Studies teacher Christa Dunlap. “Students need to be able to decipher facts and examine how these facts help or harm them.”
The new curriculum offers more flexibility and encourages students to engage with material in a deeper way than simply memorizing facts. The approach also encourages the framing of topics into a broader historical context that allows students to understand issues in a way that relates to current events.
“For example, recently there is a plan in Romulus to build a trash incinerator on the old Seneca Army Depot land,” Christa Dunlap said. “This is a very controversial topic in our community. I see it as my job to help students review the data, uncover any biases, and help them make informed decisions about whether this is harmful or helpful to our community. These changes in the state curriculum are about teaching students to go through the process of finding information, analyzing it and making informed decisions. Due to the amount of media students are ingesting every day, this is a vital skill in modern society.”
State learning standards and tests are being updated in accordance with the new educational strategy.