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MISSION: To lead an educational partnership with the Community, maintaining an environment that challenges all students to reach their potential as lifelong learners and responsible members of society.

Social Studies

Bethel Park School District Social Studies Curriculum
Mission:

Social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities with the goal of promoting civic competence. Within the school program, the social studies curriculum provides a systematic study that draws upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world. Civic competence is the heart of social studies and is an essential goal of schooling in a democratic society.

Description:

Bethel Park School District’s social studies curriculum focuses not only on the historical, geographical and cultural contexts of past civilizations, but prepares students to make educated decisions that will enable them to positively impact future societies as well. The Pennsylvania standards in History, Geography, Economics, Civics and Government provide the foundation for a comprehensive program with a variety of electives available at the high school level to accommodate students’ individual interests and aspirations.

Fred Pearson
1-4 Social Studies Curriculum Facilitator
412-854-8546

Lorna Kestner
5-8 Social Studies Curriculum Facilitator
412-854-8751

Victor DiPrampero
9-12 Social Studies Curriculum Facilitator
412-854-8584

Elementary Social Studies:

The elementary social studies program offers students the opportunity to acquire a basic understanding of the fundamental concepts and disciplines of anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science and sociology.  Lessons are aligned with the National Council for Social Studies Standards and the Pennsylvania  Academic Standards for Social Studies, and progress from the exploration of the community in primary grades to that of the country and world in the intermediate grades.  Citizenship skills and democratic principles are celebrated and reinforced throughout each level.

Middle School Social Studies:

The middle school social studies program features a rigorous examination of the United States, including its regions, cultures, geography, history, government, and economics. Emphasis is placed on the characteristics of citizenship and fostering self-examination to aid students in the discovery of their place in the world. Students also learn about the history and perspective of cultures throughout the world in order to develop an understanding of the influence of each on the world-wide community from the past to present times. 

Social Studies 5:

The primary focus of the fifth grade social studies program is a survey of American History up to and including the year 1824. The program includes a consistent integration of history, geography, economic, and civics. The program begins with a review of Northern American regions and an introduction to the cultures which will meet in North America to form the foundation of the American culture. The series continues with a chronological study of exploration, colonization, and “Americanization” from early beginnings through the year 1824. 

“Horizons: United States History: Beginnings” is a multidisciplinary approach incorporating social studies, math, science, reading, and writing skills. Time lines, maps, charts, graphs, photographs, and Venn diagrams are used throughout the lessons to help the students better organize the content. Strategies used in this series allow the students to think critically and solve problems.

In addition to the text, “United States History: Beginnings,” the students will receive Pennsylvania Weekly. This newspaper will allow the student to learn more about the history, geography, economics, civics and government, and current events about the state in which they live.

Social Studies 6:

The sixth grade social studies curriculum is designed to increase our students’ knowledge of the world by studying the five strands of social studies. The geography strand is the foundation on which the curriculum is anchored. History, culture and society, civics and government, and economics make up the other four strands whose study will enrich learning about the world’s nations and people.

The course begins with an overview of the Earth’s landforms, bodies of water, climates and vegetation, and natural resources. Students are also introduced to population and settlement patterns, cultures and societies, governments and economies, and regions of the Earth.

As the course progresses, students will have the opportunities to apply map and globe skills, chart and graph skills, reading/research skills, and citizenship skills to facilitate learning about the world’s regions. These skills will first be applied in building upon students’ knowledge of the United States. From there the course takes the students on an educational trip around the world. The United States unit of study also includes the country of Canada. Subsequent units visit Middle America and South America, Europe, Southwest Asia and North Africa, Africa South of the Sahara, Asia, and the Pacific Realm.

Social Studies 7:

The seventh grade curriculum will begin with a look at Primitive Man and will move into the Egyptian Civilization, Asia and the Americas. The Eastern Civilization will be examined with a study of the Phoenicians, Hebrews and Persian Empire. While still in the first semester, we will peruse Asia’s Classical Age. We will begin the Western Civilization and the Glory of Greece from the Minoans to the Hellenistic Age with a generous sprinkling of Classical Mythology prior to the end of the semester. The second semester will begin with the Romans, the founding of Rome to the beginning of Christianity. Europe after the Romans including the Early Middle Ages will be captured moving onto the later civilizations of Africa, Asia, and the Americas as we focus on the Aztecs, Incans and North American cultures. Our final topic for the year will concern the spread of civilization in the Byzantine Empire, Islam and the Mongol Empire.

Students will be expected to realize the importance of perspective in learning about history. They will learn to differentiate between prehistory and history. An understanding of major world religions and cultures must be acknowledged, compared and contrasted. Emphasis will be placed on prehistory to the early middle ages and the philosophies which directed and inspired them.

Social Studies 8:

Eighth grade social studies is an exciting course featuring multiple subjects and taught using a wide array of teaching techniques. The students will have the unique opportunity to experience many different interests: American civics, career awareness education accompanied by the latest computer software in cooperation with the library, and economics. The main objectives of this course are to improve citizenship, to introduce various career choices to assist students in choosing an appropriate course of study at the high school, and to begin to understand the complexity of the United States economy. In addition to content goals, eighth grade students will support and embrace the school-wide goals of writing across the curriculum and enlisting technology as a necessary tool in learning.

High School Social Studies:

Bethel Park School District requires a minimum of four (4) credits in the Social Studies for graduation. In addition to a strong core of required classes, a wide selection of elective, honors and Advanced Placement courses are offered to challenge and prepare students for future academic, personal and professional endeavors. 

 Core Course Offerings:

American History I
Grade 9
Level 1-3
Full Year Course – 1 Credit
Prerequisite: None

This is the first course in a two-year study which covers the progression of American history. It covers the period beginning with the arrival of the colonists and concludes with the dawning of the 20th Century. Within this time frame, students study the various political, social, military, and economic experiences faced by the American people. The course is offered on several levels based on academic ability.

American History I (Honors)
Grade 9
Level 3
Full Year Course – 1 Credit
Prerequisite: None

This course is an accelerated and enriched study of American History covering the colonial period to the beginning of the 20th Century. Students are encouraged to look beyond the survey provided by the textbook for the forces and beliefs that shaped the American experience. Opportunity is provided for students to study selected issues in American history in greater depth through various primary readings, classroom activities, and independent research.

World History
Grade 10
Level 1-2
Full Year Course – 1 Credit
Prerequisite: None

This course involves the students in a select study of the world’s civilizations and cultures. The time period studied is from the Renaissance to the present. Material is carefully selected to allow the student a global perspective of the world’s people and events.

World History (Honors)
Grade 10
Level 3
Full Year Course – 1 Credit
Prerequisite: None

The World History (Honors) course encompasses world history from the Renaissance (approximately 1450) to the present. Major historical events and social, political, and economic changes in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America are highlighted. The United States is discussed as it relates to the development of other areas of the world. 

The course uses high-level primary source material and is reading and writing intensive. World History (Honors) is intended for accelerated students who have a sincere interest in history and the development of the modern world.

AP European History
Grade 10-12
Level 3
Full Year Course – 1 Credit
Prerequisite: None

This is a full year course which analyzes the historical events from the Renaissance to the 20th Century which have directly affected the development of the European community. This course is taught on a college level and is intended for above average and gifted students who possess a keen interest in European history. The course is intended as a preparation for the Advanced Placement Examination in European History. However, students are not required to take the AP exam. 

American History II
Grade 11
Level 1-2
Full Year Course – 1 Credit
Prerequisite: None

This course is a continuation of American History I, required for all students except those who have chosen Advanced Placement American History. This course spans the 20th Century emphasizing the political, social, economic, and military aspects of those years.

American History II (Honors)
Grade 11
Level 3
Full Year Course – 1 Credit
Prerequisite: None

This American History II Honors course is an accelerated and enriched study of American history from the end of Reconstruction to the present. Major social, political, and economic events are discussed in relation to America’s role in the larger world. 

This course is reading and writing intensive. The course will also provide opportunities for students to study selected issues in American history at a greater depth through independent research and classroom presentations. PowerPoint and Smart Board technology will help to facilitate student involvement. American History II Honors is intended for accelerated and self-motivated students. 

AP American History   
Grade 11-12
Level 3
Full Year Course – 1 Credit
Prerequisite: None

This course is designed to provide students with high-level analytical skills and factual knowledge to enable them to deal with the problems and events of American history. It is an in-depth study of U.S. history form Jamestown to the present and is designed to prepare students for the Advanced Placement test in May. Students will learn to assess historical materials and examine their relevance, reliability, and importance to a given problem. The class includes a large volume of required reading and writing. This course will also include a summer assignment that is due at the beginning of the school year.

American Government
Grade 12
Level 2-3
Semester Course – ½ Credit
Prerequisite: None

This course is a study of the growth and change in the American government and political system. Much of the content is topical, drawing many examples from the social sciences. It includes an overview of the federal, state, and local governments.

American Government (Honors)
Grade 12
Level 3
Semester Course – ½ Credit
Prerequisite: None

Honors American Government is designed to provide students with a detailed analytical perspective of the institutions, issues and democratic principles that comprise current political analysis. Through rigorous discussion and questioning, students will develop their own sense of belonging and participating in a democratic society where conflict and change are forever constant. This course can be used to fulfill the senior project requirement.

Economics
Grade 12
Level 2-3
Semester Course – ½ Credit
Prerequisite: None

This course is a practical study of the terms and functions of economics and economic systems. The program develops an awareness of economic principles and theories, presenting ideas simply and developing them logically. The ideas are reinforced through a wide variety of simulations, role-playing, class discussions and guest speakers. The material is current and meaningful and encourages students to recognize and interpret economic trends in their society.

Economics (Honors)
Grade 12
Level 3
Semester Course – ½ Credit
Prerequisite: None

This course is an in-depth study of the terms and functions of Economics and economic systems. It will include a thorough study of both microeconomic and macroeconomic concepts. The program is a college-level study of principles and theories involving advanced reading and writing skills. The ideas are reinforced through a survey of current economic issues and research projects.

AP Macroeconomics   
Grade 12
Level 3
Semester Course – ½ Credit
Prerequisite: None

This course will give students a thorough understanding of the principles of economics that apply to an economic system as a whole. The class is a college-level study of macroeconomic principles and theories involving advanced reading and writing skills. Such a course places particular emphasis on the study of national income and price-level determination, and also develops students’ familiarity with economic performance measures, the financial sector, stabilization policies, economic growth, and international economics. 

Social Studies 12
Grade 12
Level 1
Full Year Course – 1 Credit
Prerequisite: None

This course is designed as a survey of the social sciences. It is intended to provide the different perspectives necessary to obtain a rounded picture of social behavior and the social sciences. This course focuses on our institutions and our relationships with nature and one another. Students are expected to develop the analytical skills and factual knowledge necessary for understanding the social sciences. 

Students will explore the many facets of the various fields of study in order to understand basic theories, terms, and applications. It is the goal of this course to enable seniors to gain a better understanding of their world and those around them.

Elective Course Offerings:

China Experience
Grade 9-12
Level 2-3
Semester Course – ½ Credit

The “China Experience” will be offered during the second semester of the 2009-2010 school year. The course will be taught by a teacher from our “sister school,” the Xing Zhi High School of the Bao Shan School District in Shanghai, China.

This course will include the study of Chinese culture, language, music, dancing, calligraphy, cooking, politics, business, education, history and current Chinese-USA relations. This class will feature field trips to various cultural activities in the city of Pittsburgh, actual lessons in calligraphy (writing of Chinese characters), Chinese art projects (ink drawing of Chinese Landscapes), cooking lessons, dance (with a group of Chinese dancers) and much more. The course will give the students an introduction to Chinese life and culture which will help to prepare them for life in the 21st Century.

Democratic Leadership
Grade 9-12
Level 1-3
Semester Course – ½ Credit
Prerequisite: None

This course is designed to provide entry-level insight into the concept of leadership at all levels of a democratic society. Students are provided with material and hands-on learning activities to develop skill and understanding of basic leadership theory. Topics explored include goal setting, project planning, decision-making, time management, communication, motivation, group dynamics, and leadership styles and strategies. Students will be expected to display competency in these skill areas within the framework of the classroom. Students who presently hold leadership positions in clubs, classes, athletic teams, or in community youth organizations (or those who aspire to leadership positions) will derive a better understanding of their roles through participation in this class.

Project ideas will be designed to provide students with the opportunity to discover, either in the classroom, school, or community environment, how the use of various skills (identified above) aid in successful accomplishment of proposals and projects. 

World Geography
Grade 9-12
Level 1-3
Semester Course – ½ Credit
Prerequisite: None

This elective course provides students with a comprehensive study of basic concepts and principles of both physical and cultural geography. It will help students build geographic literacy in order to gain an appreciation for the earth and its many various people. The course will stress the five major themes of geographical studies; location, place, relationships within places, movement, and regions.

Human Resource Development
Grade 10-12
Level 203
Full Year Course – 1 Credit
Prerequisite: None

This course is designed to utilize school and community resources and includes effective decision-making and problem-solving techniques, strategic organizational planning, building self-confidence, pride and assertiveness, understanding consensus techniques and team building, delegating authority, speaking and listening skills, participative leadership, evaluation of group and self-initiatives and numerous other leadership skills. The course will require students to create and implement community service projects and activities and can be used to fulfill the senior project requirement.

This course is strongly recommended for elected and appointed student leaders; officers of organizations, representatives to school and class governments, team leaders and captains, and all other students who presently are, or anticipate being, in professions or jobs which require an understanding of people, management, and leadership.

Psychology
Grade 10-12
Level 2-3
Semester Course – ½ Credit
Prerequisite: None

This course is a semester course available as an elective to students in tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades. Concepts and theories are introduced and reinforced through “hands- on” learning activities. Thus, students learn by doing. Topics covered include, but are not limited to, Biopsychology, sensation and perception, memory, personality, and Abnormal Psychology. This course can be used to fulfill the senior project requirement.

Sociology
Grade 10-12
Level 2-3
Semester Course – ½ Credit
Prerequisite: None

This course is structured in two sections. One section analyzes basic sociological theories, research methods, and concepts. The other discusses contemporary social issues. The course includes a research activity that allows students to apply the information that they have learned to the analysis of a contemporary social issue and can be used to fulfill the senior project requirement.

Law and You
Grade 10-12
Level 2-3
Semester Course – ½ Credit
Prerequisite: None

The Law and You course stresses student involvement, participation and classroom discussion about the U.S. legal system. The course of study includes legal terminology, criminal law and defenses, legal careers with an emphasis on becoming a lawyer, tort law and defenses, and infamous crimes. 

Humanities
Grade 11-12
Level 3
Full Year Course – 1 Credit
Prerequisite: Recommendation

This course is a study of some of the intellectual and artistic highlights of Western culture. From the ancient Greeks to modern times, various works are examined within the context of history. The course also focuses on the three questions of the Humanities – What is true? (philosophy and logic), What is good? (ethics), and What is beautiful? (fine arts). Humanities is an excellent preparation for college. Special recommendation is required prior to enrollment. This course can be used to fulfill the senior project requirement.