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Teachers recommend new Social Studies Curriculum
Proposed Social Studies purchase good for seven years
school board social studies books
School board members examine textbooks recommended by teachers for the next Social Studies curriculum adoption. - photo by Susan Thacker

Social Studies teacher Audra Nuckolls told school board members Monday that some of the maps in her classroom at Great Bend Middle School are older than she is. “I’m 25,” she said.

While that may be fine for U.S. maps, the time has come for USD 428 to update its Social Studies curriculum. Assistant Superintendent John Popp said the district schedule calls for the materials to be updated every seven years, although for Social Studies it’s been more like nine years. After piloting Social Studies curricula for grades K-6, GBMS and GBHS since last semester, teachers presented their recommendation for the next resource adoption.

Their recommendations include a K-5 program offered by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH).

“Sixth grade is not as seamless as we’d like,” Popp said, noting publishers typically group materials for grades K-5 and 6-8.

Park Elementary sixth-grade teacher Eric Dowson said the materials use well-known authors and have increased rigor and relevance. Instead of textbooks, students will get 12 magazines over the course of the year and they have access to a website. The cost includes purchasing new magazines every year.

There are many assessment tools and resources for English language learners, added Stephanie Lomas, who teaches fifth grade at Jefferson Elementary. “The magazines are fun,” she said, praising the material’s ease of use and high artistic quality. “HMH allows you to do virtual field trips.”

Sixth-graders will get World Civilization materials. Popp said the cost for K-6 for the next seven years will be $135,972.

School board member Deanna Essmiller – who once was Nuckolls’ teacher – held up a sample textbook from the presentation, noting, “This is what I’m used to.” Teachers said many students also prefer printed materials to reading on digital devices.

For GBMS materials, Popp said seventh graders focus on geography and Kansas history. The teachers recommend a National Geographic series and “The Kansas Journey,” published by Gibbs Smith Education for seventh graders and a Pearson publication for eighth graders. The GBMS adoption will cost $58,477.

Materials for GBHS cover everything from economics to geography to government. Again, teachers praised the “rigor and relevance” of the curriculum, with GBHS teacher Denny Lewis noting that high school materials are designed to lead students to ask their own questions and back up their answers with evidence they find. 

The high school portion of this adoption will cost $82,530 and that brings the total for K-12 Social Studies to $266,980 for the next seven years.

The board will be asked to approve the recommendation in March.

Stephanie Lomas 5th gr teacher
Stephanie Lomas, a fifth-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary, discusses the merits of the proposed curriculum. - photo by Susan Thacker