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Whitefish School District selects new social studies curriculum

by WHITNEY ENGLAND
Whitefish Pilot | June 23, 2021 1:00 AM

After a year of analyzing and trialing different programs, the Whitefish School District has selected a new social studies core curriculum for all grade levels that will be implemented starting next school year.

This curriculum review process is in line with the new Montana content and skills standards which were adopted in November 2020 and school districts were required to begin implementing the new standards by July 2021. The previous Montana standards were adopted in the early 2000s and the new standards will also include integrating Montana’s Indian Education for All.

The Whitefish School Board recently approved the new curriculum. There will also be supplemental materials, such as materials to implement Montana’s Indian Education for All, that will be decided and voted on by the board at a later date, according to Curriculum Director Ryder Delaloye.

Delaloye said the choices in programs for the district’s new social studies curriculum came through a series of collaborative meetings between the district and grade level teams as well as the social studies department during which they reviewed the current curriculum and looked for ways to align it with the new Montana standards.

“The purpose of this yearlong endeavor was to really adhere to that strategic component of our plan focused on guaranteeing a viable curriculum,” Delaloye told the board. “Guaranteed means every student has demonstrated competency in those areas and viable means that it is achievable, it can actually be done.”

The curriculum varies for different grade level groups and each was presented in the meeting by a representative from Muldown, the middle school and the high school.

Kindergarten through fourth grade teachers identified a few resources that will support a comprehensive social studies curriculum such as maps, journals, academic magazines, topics-based booklets and game-based learning resources.

The fifth grade collaborative team will adopt a program called ‘Building Our Country: My World Interactive.’

Due to the new Montana standards, sixth grade will make a major revision by focusing on World Geography rather than the current focus of Ancient Civilizations; for this the team chose a textbook called National Geographic: World Cultures and Geography. Through this program sixth graders will also access a literature collection that explores ancient civilizations from different regions of the world.

“One of our goals at the middle school as we started the curriculum alignment process was to identify some of the gaps and redundancies that exist within our social studies program K-12,” Megan Pepe, WMS history teacher, explained to the board. “Since the middle school really does act as a bridge between Muldown and the high school, our team felt like we were in a unique position to ensure our students have the necessary social studies content and skills.”

Seventh through 12th grade will now use the McGraw Hill textbooks for the secondary level of the social studies curriculum. Seventh grade focuses on the early history of the United States, eighth grade will learn about civics and economics. For high school there will be World History, U.S. History and U.S. Government and Economics — all with McGraw Hill textbooks.

Whitefish High School English and social studies teacher Kelly Haverlandt, who presented on behalf of the high school, explained the curriculum was chosen because it is an engaging and student-centered program that helps teachers prepare students to be successful in their post high school journeys.

“With social studies, while we don’t have a national assessment like english or math or science, we teach students how to learn,” she said. “So the skills that they learn in social studies they will use in those other content areas and we also teach them about how to be good citizens, how to be people who contribute to society.

“The aftermath of what they learn in our social studies program will be seen for generations as they go through and contribute to their communities in which they live,” she concluded.