Core Curriculum: Social Studies 1

Off2class is excited to release Social Studies 1, the next lessons in our Core Curriculum series and the first directly addressing the needs of English language learners in the social studies classroom.

Why is social studies important?

Studying social studies presents unique challenges and opportunities for English language learners (ELLs) in secondary school settings. But why is it so important? At a fundamental level, it is a gateway to understanding the world around us — from the complexities of history and culture to the fundamental principles of economics and politics. It also sharpens analytical, critical thinking, and interpretation skills, which are crucial in our interconnected global society.

However, despite the universal relevance of social studies, its teaching and learning are entrenched in language and culture. For ELLs, two main obstacles arise: linguistic barriers and cultural differences.

Linguistic barriers primarily appear in understanding historical context, interpreting economic data, and analyzing political systems. This is because they all require a strong understanding of English to fully comprehend. Moreover, language structures needed for key functional skills like describing historical events or making predictions about societal trends might be unfamiliar to ELLs.

Cultural differences also create challenges. Teaching methods and problem-solving approaches in social studies can vary significantly from one culture to another. ELLs may struggle to adapt to a new framework different from their previous experiences.

This is where our new Social Studies 1 series of Off2Class Core Curriculum lessons come into play. The series incorporates highly contextualized language and focuses on language structures required for specific functional skills, helping ELLs understand and engage with societal problems and making the social studies classroom accessible to everyone.

Comprising six units with an initial two lessons each, the series covers a range of topics from history and culture to economics and politics, understanding historical context, interpreting economic data, and analyzing political systems. By focusing on the key language that can block comprehension, the series ensures all language is contextualized in situations students will regularly encounter in the classroom and in societal discussions.

In addition, the Social Studies 1 series saves time for teachers. Comprehensive teacher notes provide suggestions and additional activities to minimize the amount of preparation time. Homework and review activities for students are also included, ensuring ELLs stay caught up in their core social studies lessons.

Since this curriculum takes a universal, international approach, it ensures that cultural diversity is respected and incorporated. This focus helps students feel more comfortable and engaged in the learning process, further enhancing their understanding of social studies.

Off2Class Core Curriculum

The Off2Class Core Curriculum is designed to provide students with the necessary tools to understand and interact with content across a variety of secondary school subjects. It emphasizes key vocabulary and frequently-used phrases in different academic areas. By gaining a deep understanding of these language components, students can gradually comprehend and articulate increasingly complex language and ideas.

This curriculum is particularly advantageous for students who have a basic understanding of English but need extra support to confidently express their thoughts in specific subjects. For beginners still building a strong English foundation, our Newcomers lesson series, released summer 2023, is an ideal starting point.

While the vocabulary in the Core Curriculum lessons is mainly sourced from North American educational systems, teachers in other teaching contexts can also utilize these lessons with minor modifications. The first part in the series, consisting of 72 lessons, covers Classroom Language and Skills, Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.

Social Studies 1

Social Studies 1 consists of 12 lessons and 6 units, each focusing on topics typically covered in secondary school settings. The goal of this course is to provide students with the language and skills they need to become confident, capable participants in the classroom.

Unit 1: Introduction to social studies

This unit presents an overview of social studies and how we talk about it. What are the subjects that make up social studies? What kind of questions do we think about in each of these subject areas? And how do we establish what we know?

Unit 2: Ancient civilizations

In this unit students explore the development of ancient civilizations. By reading example texts, students study the past simple and sequencing language in a meaningful context. They then apply this language to describing the development of other civilizations.

Unit 3: The Industrial Revolution

Unit 3 covers the Industrial Revolution, its causes, and its effects. Students develop language skills for describing past situations and reasons for changes. They then apply these skills to discussing positive and negative developments.

Unit 4: The women’s suffrage movement

In Unit 4, students learn about the women’s suffrage movement and how it gained momentum. Students develop language skills for reasoning and supporting arguments, and apply these skills to a classroom discussion.

Unit 5: The civil rights movement

Reflecting on injustices of the past and working toward making a better present and future is one of the most powerful elements of social studies. In Unit 5, students develop descriptive language for explaining a context through studying the civil rights movement.

Unit 6: Principles of economics

Finally, Unit 6 deals with principles of economics. Economics has a complex language which can often be opaque to English language learners. This unit ensures students have the language skills necessary to access their core economics content.

Forthcoming releases

The Off2Class Social Studies lessons give English language learners the skills and language they need to thrive, opening up a world of opportunities in the classroom and beyond.

For full details of our Social Studies lessons and the rest of the Core Curriculum, as well as information regarding our other exciting lesson releases for this year, take a look at our release schedule.

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