Survey Results: Where Do We Begin?

Originally posted on March 12, 2011 by Shennan Hutton

The Blueprint Needs Survey officially closed on Wednesday. As I was compiling the results, I thought you might like to see what your fellow teachers selected as priorities for development. This is the question: “We plan to design a state-of-the-art curriculum for all the History-Social Science Standards, but we can only do this gradually. Where should we begin? Which of the History Social-Science Content standards for your grade level most needs development and support?” 

Teachers answered in many different ways, so the following must be taken with a grain of salt. It seems, for example, that 8th-grade teachers might have been the dominant voice on this survey. It’s fascinating to speculate on what that means! 

Some of those who answered indicated that an entire grade level should be the initial focus; of these, Grade 10 Modern World History was the most frequent choice (12), and Grade 6 Ancient World History was second (9).

In the following table, I listed the most needy units at each grade level. I listed at least two for each, except grade 12 (which only had 5 responses in total.) If large numbers of respondents (i.e. over 10) chose additional units, I included those as well. The first number is the standard, followed by a brief title of the standard, and the final number in parentheses is the total number of respondents who mentioned this unit.

Question 2: Most Needy Units

Grade 4 California History
4.2 Indians, Spanish & Mexican periods (9)
4.5 Levels of Gov’t. (6)

Grade 5 Colonial U.S. History
5.4 Colonial Era (8)
5.7 Constitution (13)

Grade 6 Ancient World History
6.5 India (9)
6.6 China (7)

Grade 7 Medieval World History
7.3 China (8)
7.4 West Africa (9)
7.9 Reformation (8)

Grade 8 18th & 19th Century U.S. History
8.1 Founding of U.S. Review (23)
8.2 Constitution (13)
8.8 West (antebellum) (12)
8.10 Civil War (12)
8.11 Reconstruction (12)

Grade 10 World History
10.1 Judeo-Christian-Greek-Roman Review (12)
10.2 18th-c. Revolutions (10)
10.9 Post-WWII (14)
10.10 Nation-Building (14)

Grade 11 U.S. History
11.1 Founding Review (8)
11.3 Religion (8)
11.9 Post-War Foreign Policy (11)

In grades 4 through 7, teachers commented generally that the units were difficult either because they lacked sources, or because the conceptual level of the topic challenged their students. In grades 8 through 11, teachers selected the first and last units as most needy. The challenge of the first units is the difficulty of reviewing quickly, while for the final units, teachers cited lack of time before the CSTs in April, and lack of sources for the most modern period, particularly 1980-2011 (grades 10 and 11.) Having once been a 10th-grade teacher, I add my voice to these as well. It’s too easy to get bogged down in the early review units, because students don’t remember the material. I don’t blame this on teachers, because the three-year gap is much more responsible. The post-World War II units are late in the school year and unwieldy in the territory they cover. 

I have to say that I’m looking forward to this challenge, however. Developing good units on these tough standards could make a real difference for teachers.