Social Studies - 6th Grade
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In the third grade, students built conceptual understandings of community, culture, and
government. They learned basic geographic terms and geographic features necessary for human
settlement and success. They applied their understanding of culture and community as they
learned more about indigenous cultures in the Americas. They began to explore the rights and
responsibilities central to representative government.
In the fourth grade, students will build on these foundational concepts as they learn about the
present state of Utah. Students will study history, government, economics, culture, and
geography to build their understanding of Utah's past and present, as well as make inferences
about Utah's future. Inquiry into current events will help students make connections between the
past and the present. Students will enlarge their world connections as they trace the global
travels of people from many diverse cultures who now call Utah home.
In the fifth grade, students will enlarge the study of history, government, economics, and
geography as they study the United States. There is neither an intention nor a possibility of
successful "coverage" of all of United States history and geography or all of the social,
economic, and political movements that have helped create the story of America. Rather,
students should "discover" and "uncover" this story, with attention to the overarching concepts
of global interconnectedness, the processes of continuity and change over time, the rights and
responsibilities we all share, and the systems of power, authority, and governance we create.
Primary source documents and literature that recounts the stories of exemplary character and life
skills will help students understand their own place in the continuing saga of America.
The fifth grade core is presented in a chronological framework, separated into eras in a
modification of the organizing framework of the National Standards for History. Under the
rubric of these interconnected eras, students will be able to explore each era's essential ideas and
events. The eras are: Exploration and Colonization, Beginnings of Self-Government, the
Constitution and Bill of Rights, the Expansive 19th Century, and The United States on the World
Stage. By framing the history of the United States within comprehensible sections, students will
be supported in their own cognitive development. As students develop a basic understanding of
key events and the basic chronology of United States history, the nation's geography, and its
economic history, they will be building a foundation that will serve them well in the years to
In the sixth grade, the focus for social studies turns to the world. Just as there is no possible way
to learn about all facets of the United States, there is no way to learn about all the world has to
offer. Rather, students will continue on their lifelong social studies journey with a study of
people and places of the world from a variety of historic eras. Attention has been paid to
reinforce relevance by connecting the past to the present whenever possible.
The sixth grade core is constructed within a chronological framework. This does not preclude
teaching social studies thematically. Just as there are many ways of understanding social studies,
there are many ways of teaching it. Chronology does help reinforce the essential understandings
of time, continuity, and change, and is intended to help build a conceptual scaffold for future
Ancient civilizations are referenced in the first standard. Comparisons between civilizations
from a variety of regions can help support awareness not only of history but of all the social
studies disciplines, including geography, anthropology, and economics. Students will learn
about selected regions of the world and the societies that have formed there, learning about their
systems of governance, the rights and responsibilities they hold, how their societies have
changed and continued over time, and how these regions are interconnected. Students will
compare institutions common to all societies such as government, education, and religious institutions. They will also learn about current issues facing the world as well as potential
opportunities for solutions.
The remaining standards reflect specific epochs of time: The Middle Ages and Renaissance, The
Age of Revolutions, and The Modern World. The focus on these specific epochs should allow
students to explore ideas and concepts in depth, learning life lessons and making connections
that will inspire and excite them for their lives to come.
The most important goal: a well-lived life
Excitement, wonder, inquiry, delight, and puzzlement are central to meaningful learning in social
studies. Social studies should be fun and intriguing for all students, and provide opportunities to
make important life-long connections between the past, present, and future. Students who
appreciate the sacrifices that have been made in the past and understand the challenges that lie
ahead can make better decisions in the present.
Core Standards of the Course
Online Standards Resource
Benchmark: Humans originated in Africa and migrated across the Earth, creating ancient civilizations in nearly every region that could support life. Modern civilizations can trace their foundations to these ancient civilizations. Their cultures and histories can teach us much about ourselves and the modern world in which we live.
Students will understand how ancient civilizations developed and how they contributed to the current state of the world.
Explain why physical geography affected the development of early civilizations.
Identify the major physical features of the regions where ancient civilizations flourished.
Describe how these features influenced the success or decline of the civilizations.
Compare maps of these ancient civilizations to current political maps and make inferences about the continuing affects of physical geography on cultural development.
Evaluate how religion has played a central role in human history from ancient times to today.
Explore the importance of religion in the cultural expression of ancient civilizations (e.g. customs, artistic expression, creation stories, architecture of sacred spaces).
Identify key tenets of the major world religions (i.e. Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism).
Analyze how religious ideas influence current issues.
Explain how modern governments can trace some of their attributes to the systems of power, authority, and governance established in ancient civilizations.
Identify forms of government within these civilizations.
Compare those forms to existing systems of governance in today's world.
Analyze how the earliest civilizations created technologies and systems to meet community and personal needs.
Identify innovations in manmade structures over time (e.g. irrigation, roads, building materials) and their influence on meeting needs.
Examine the evolution and importance of writing.
Identify cultural expressions that reflect these systems (e.g. architecture, artistic expression, medicine, philosophy, drama, literature).
Compare social classes, vocations, and gender roles within ancient civilizations.
Benchmark: The Middle Ages and the Renaissance were epochs of great impact on our modern world. The expansion of knowledge, technological innovation and global interconnectedness set in motion changes that still resonate today.
Students will understand the transformation of cultures during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and the impact of this transformation on modern times.
Explain how physical geography affects economic and cultural expansion.
Identify natural resources and physical features that affected expansion.
Describe the development of international trade via the desert, sea, and land and the resultant cultural exchanges between Asia, the Middle East, and Europe (e.g. the Silk Road)
Explore the importance of religion in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and its relevance to modern times.
Explain the influence of religion on cultural expression (e.g. the arts, architecture, government, education, family structure).
Compare relations between the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish faiths during the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and the modern world (e.g. Crusades, periods of peaceful coexistence, periods of conflict).
Examine how systems of governance began steps toward self-rule during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Examine relationships between significant events and ideas and their influence on systems of government (e.g. the rise of the merchant class, the Magna Carta, the impact of the Black Death, Germanic tribes, feudalism, manors, city-states).
Compare individual rights of people in the United States today with the rights of selected groups in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (e.g. serfs, nobility, merchant class).
Explain the importance of the Renaissance as a rebirth of cultural and intellectual pursuits.
Investigate how technological and scientific developments of the time promoted literacy and the exchange of ideas that continue to this day (e.g. moveable type, telescope, microscope).
Identify leading Renaissance artists and thinkers and their contributions to visual arts, writing, music, and architecture (e.g. Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Palestrina, Shakespeare, Tallis).
Benchmark: When people think of revolution, most of us think of armed conflict. World history has multiple examples of revolutionary times and revolutionary ideas and movements, but the era from 1750 to 1914 provides several strong examples of change in different arenas. The technological and economic impact of the industrial revolution meshed with the rise of new political ideologies and the rise of European dominance. The global forces of revolution created changes that still resonate to this day.
Students will understand how revolutions have had an impact on the modern world.
Understand processes of revolution
Examine social, religious, and economic issues that may lead to revolution.
Identify and compare how revolutions develop in multiple areas of human life (e.g. scientific, agricultural, industrial, political, medical).
Analyze the impact of selected revolutions.
Identify representative people from selected revolutions (e.g. Napoleon, Martin Luther, James Watt, Isaac Newton, Madame Curie, Anton Van Leeuwenhoek).
Examine the outcomes of selected revolutions (e.g. the Scientific and Industrial revolutions, the Reformation, the French Revolution).
Benchmark: The modern world has witnessed incredible change in global trade, the spread of democracy, the influence of technology, an increase in environmental awareness and advances in human knowledge. The 20th century saw two world wars, the rise of competing economic systems, and unprecedented technological change. Against the backdrop of the modern world there are many opinions regarding the civic responsibilities humans have to one another.
Students will understand current global issues and their rights and responsibilities in the interconnected world.
Analyze how major world events of the 20th century affect the world today.
Identify key events, ideas, and leaders of the 20th century (e.g. World War I, World War II, the Cold War, the Korean and Vietnamese conflicts, dynamic Asian economies).
Describe the impact of these events on the world today.
Explore current global issues facing the modern world and identify potential solutions.
Investigate pressing issues facing the world.
Identify potential solutions to pressing issues.
Identify individuals and groups making positive changes in the world today and support these choices with evidence.
Determine human rights and responsibilities in the world.
Identify rights considered essential for all humans.
Propose steps individual students can take to protect these rights (e.g. support for sister schools, energy and resource conservation, letter writing, career choices, fundraising efforts).
http://www.uen.org - in partnership with Utah State Board of Education
(USBE) and Utah System of Higher Education
(USHE). Send questions or comments to USBE
and see the Social Studies website. For
general questions about Utah's Core Standards contact the Director
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State of Utah. Copies of these materials may be freely reproduced
for teacher and classroom use. When distributing these materials,
credit should be given to Utah State Board of Education. These
materials may not be published, in whole or part, or in any other
format, without the written permission of the Utah State Board of
Education, 250 East 500 South, PO Box 144200, Salt Lake City, Utah