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Friday, June 1, 2018

Event recap: Rolling out California's new History and Social Science Framework in Sonoma

CHSSP's Statewide office team and Teaching California Project Manager Kerri in front of the day's schedule, May 22nd, 2018. Left to right: Tuyen Tran (CHSSP), Nancy McTygue (CHSSP), Kerri Young (CHS), Beth Slutsky (CHSSP).

On May 22nd, our friends and partners at the California History and Social Science Project (CHSSP) invited us to attend a local conference at Sonoma State University, part of series they are doing to promote California's new History and Social Science Framework. The CHSSP served as the primary writers of the new Framework, adopted by the State Board of Education in 2016, which outlines an instructional approach that promotes student-centered inquiry and encourages students to develop clear and persuasive arguments based on their own interpretations of the past, using relevant evidence. While the history and social science standards for California provide the “what” of an instructional program (unchanged), the Framework helps flesh out the “how (new!)”

CHSSP Director Nancy giving the day's opening address. She was joined onstage by Michelle Herczog of the Los Angeles County Office of Education (far left), and Kristin Cruz Allen of the California Department of Education.

As we continue to work with CHSSP to create and implement Teaching California, this was an opportunity to dig into the important instructional shifts that inform the content development work we are doing. With its emphasis on content, inquiry, literacy, and citizenship, the Framework, and by extension our project, will offer students the opportunity to learn about the world and their place in it, think critically, read, write, and communicate clearly, all through a uniquely California lens.

Our Reference Librarian, Frances Kaplan, and I attended multiple sessions, learning about as many sections of the Framework as we could. From the new FAIR Education Act's role in the new Framework rollout, to the ways Ethnic Studies, Literacy, and US History content are articulated, there was a lot to learn!

CHS Reference Librarian Frances Kaplan (right), with Molly Snider from Mendocino's California Office of Education. Molly hosted a session we attended focusing on K-5 Inquiry, and the importance of introducing students to primary sources at an early age.

As Teaching California's Project Manager, it was fantastic to get a closer look at the monumental effort that was the writing and adopting of the Framework, as well as having the opportunity to speak with local K-12 teachers and administrators. We were very inspired learning about the ways they are already helping students learn inquiry, literacy, and citizenship in the classroom, and how the new Framework will help better guide and build upon the work that they are already championing in their schools. Further, all were excited at the prospect of incorporating these skills into the history and social science curriculum as early as Kindergarten, a shift in approach that builds capacity even before students enter middle school.

In a session about how Ethnic Studies is articulated in the Framework, participants were asked to consider California's ethnic makeup and how that compares with the rest of the country. We discussed how the Framework can help teachers, according to CHSSP Site Director Rachel Reinhard, bring their students' "full cultural self to the classroom space."

But for many teachers, Framework implementation does not come without its fair share of challenges, including in many cases the lack of up-to-date textbooks, or starting out as the sole champion of the Framework at his or her school and faced with the task of building capacity in a strategic and resourceful way. Hearing these comments, it was heartening to know that Teaching California will be able to fill a crucial need by providing free and online resources for teachers to more easily implement the Framework in their local areas.

Handouts from the day. 

A lovely day at Sonoma State's Student Center. 

For more information about California's new History and Social Science Framework, visit CHSSP's website at and the California Department of Education’s Framework page at

Stay tuned for more on Teaching California here soon!

The California Historical Society is working in partnership with the California History-Social Science Project (CHSSP) at UC Davis to establish and implement Teaching California: a free and expansive online set of instructional materials to support the State’s new K-12 History-Social Science Framework. Comprised of curated primary source material from California's premier archives, libraries, and museums, Teaching California presents a research-based approach to improving student reading, writing, and critical thinking. This post comes from Kerri Young, Teaching California Project Manager. You can reach out to her at