Resources for Teaching Social Studies
Social studies is an interdisciplinary subject. In many school districts, economics is wholly or partially integrated into social studies courses.
The State of New Jersey requires 2.5 credits of “financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy” as a High School graduation requirement. Specifics are found in the New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards.
Much of the economics content to be covered by New Jersey teachers is found in the social studies Standard 6, though there is some overlap with the newly enhanced Standard 9. In New Jersey, Standard 6, Strand C (of four strands) is titled “Economics, Innovation, and Technology.” The two guiding questions for covering Strand C in U.S. history, world history, and active citizenship are:
- How can individuals, groups, and societies apply economic reasoning to make difficult choices about scarce resources? What are the possible consequences of these decisions for individuals, groups, and societies?
- How have scientific and technological developments over the course of history changed the way people live and economies and governments function?
There are numerous professional associations and websites to improve education in social studies, including teacher professional development opportunities. In New Jersey, chief among them is the New Jersey Council for the Social Studies, an affiliate of National Council for the Social Studies.
This section of SCEFL’s website serves as a supplement to the pages on Financial Education and Economics Education. Included are just a few links and suggestions for teachers of social studies, in New Jersey and elsewhere, specifically where the lessons are related to economics, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
For all Grades pre-K to Grade 12
The Council for Economic Education has relevant social studies lesson plans available for purchase. In addition, free lesson plans are housed in their EconEdLink.org database, though it takes some time and effort to carefully choose which lessons may be suitable for the economics content you seek to cover for your particular state standards in social studies. A simple search does yield lessons appropriate for teaching entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology. One of my favorites for Grades 6 – 8 is “The Civil War: A War of Resources.”
Junior Achievement promotes business and entrepreneurial education. JA will arrange for businesspeople and community leaders to visit classrooms nationwide.
Lesson Planet, a database of lessons and worksheets for teachers rated by teachers includes lessons on social studies, economics, and business. A search of the term “entrepreneurship” highlights those lessons.
Share My Lesson is another free database of lessons written by teachers to share with each other. Both Economics and Social Studies are subject categories.
The United States Mint has social studies lesson plans that integrate concepts from economics and geography into U.S. history.
For Grades 9 - 12
What Unions Do: A Briefing Pamphlet. An understanding of economic institutions such as labor unions is one of the many state and national standards in economics and social studies K – 12 education. What Unions Do is a short 28-page monograph that aims to introduce students to the purpose of labor unions in society and the economy. You may access and download this pamphlet by clicking the hotlink and completing a simple form. Please feel free to use the pamphlet as needed as long as you note the author, title, and publisher as the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.
USA Today, a national newspaper, provides lessons plans in social studies and entrepreneurship. Social studies lessons include topics such as population, global economics, and civics. The helpful website categorizes the lessons: lessons that include reprint articles; lessons that are case studies or project-based learning; lessons that require a graphing calculator; and others.