History-Social Science instructional materials within the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District may soon get an update and it’s one for the books.

Staff presented the board with updated instructional materials better aligned with state and district standards. These materials will be more inclusive in its history teachings and more interactive for students. The presentation was a discussion item only, though approval seems likely when the item returns to the board for adoption.

Dr. Irene Gonzlaez-Castillo, Director of Curriculum & Instruction at SMMUSD and JuliaCheri Hoos, a teacher at Malibu Middle/High School, led the presentation.

Both educators detailed a year-long process of carefully selecting publishers’ work would that reflect the inclusionary objectives of the State Board of Education and the California Department of Education’s for The History-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools.

Themes of that framework include improving literacy, inquiry and citizenship knowledge.

The process consisted of 18 teachers carefully vetting instructional materials, eventually settling on publisher TCI for 6th and 7th grade and Pearson for 8th grade.

Material content included SMMUSD 21st-century learning staples such as Project Based and Inquiry Learning quests, infographics, visuals and videos.

The materials align with the district’s 21st-century learning efforts with Project-Based and Inquiry learning models as well as aligning with state standards such as the FAIR Act, a law which mandates that California schools’ history materials provide an equitable representation of underrepresented groups such as LGBT people and members of the disabled community.

An example of subject matter included the experiences of women during the Civil War and presenting stories of prominent people in history with disabilities.

Upon materials selection, a pilot program was created and findings were discussed.

Hoos, an educator for 22 years, approved of the materials. Not only due to finally getting new books (she says textbooks in her class are from 2005) but because of what the material has done for students thus far, even in the pilot program alone.

“Not all curriculum do great with some histories,” said. “[These materials] did a thorough examination of cultures and historical and political strands. Also, there’s a strong support for language learners and students have said [the materials] have been very engaging,” noting the material’s encouragement of interactivity, such as acting  historical happenings out in class.

The presentation was a discussion item and will return to the board at some time, a passing motion almost a certitude. Board members were enthusiastic about the presentation, with Craig Foster noting he found it “terrific” and board president Dr. Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein calling the presentation “delightful”.


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