Office of Social Studies

Detroit Public Schools Community District provides our Social Studies students the content knowledge, intellectual skills, and civic values necessary for fulfilling their civic duties in a participatory democracy and effectively engage in our global society. We offer a wide array of programs and activities to engage our students.

Curriculum Description

Elementary School

Kindergarten – Myself and Others

Using a familiar context for five and six year olds, kindergartners learn about the social studies disciplines (history, geography, civics, and government, and economics) through the lens of “Myself and Others.” Accordingly, each discipline focuses on developing rudimentary understandings through an integrated approach to the field.

First – Families and Schools

In first grade, students continue to explore the social studies disciplines of history, geography, civics and government, and economics through an integrated approach using the context of school and families.

Second – The Local Community

In second grade, students continue the integrative approach to social studies through the context of the local community. This is the first time students are introduced to a social environment larger than their immediate surroundings. They draw upon knowledge learned in previous grades to develop more sophisticated understandings of history, geography, civics, government, and economics.

Third – Michigan Studies

Third grade students explore the social studies disciplines of history, geography, civics and government, and economics through the context of Michigan studies. Building on prior social studies knowledge and applying new concepts of each social studies discipline to the increasingly complex social environment of their state, the third grade content expectations help prepare students for more sophisticated studies of their country and world in later grades.

Fourth – United States Studies

Using the context of the United States, fourth grade students learn significant social studies concepts within an increasingly complex social environment. They examine fundamental concepts in geography, civics and government, and economics through the lens of Michigan history and the United States.

Fifth – Integrated American History

The fifth grade social studies content expectations mark a departure from the social studies approach taken in previous grades. Building upon the geography, civics and government, and economics concepts of the United States mastered in fourth grade and historical inquiry from earlier grades, the fifth grade expectations begin a more disciplinary-centered approach, concentrating on the early history of the United States. Students begin their study of American history with Native Americans before the arrival of European explorers and conclude with the adoption of the Bill of Rights in 1791. Although the content expectations are organized by historical era, they build upon students’ understandings of other social studies disciplines from earlier grades and require students to apply these concepts within the context of American history.

Middle School

Sixth & Seventh – Western & Eastern Hemisphere Studies

The study of the Western and Eastern Hemispheres during ancient and modern times is the content of grades six and seven. Instruction over these two years includes geography, economics, government, inquiry, public discourse and decision making, citizen involvement, and world History and Geography – Eras 1, 2, and 3. These components may be arranged over the two years with the understanding that all grade level content expectations for 6 and 7 must be included in the plan for instruction. Our approach integrates the study of the ancient world and a present day context.

Eighth – Integrated American History

Eighth grade students continue their study of United States History from the writing of the constitution through Reconstruction.  Geographic, civics/government, and economics content is integrated within the historical context.  Using significant content knowledge, research, and inquiry, the students analyze an issue and propose a plan for civic action.  They develop reasoned arguments and write a persuasive civic essay addressing issues from the past within a historical context.  Where appropriate, they make comparisons to relevant contemporary issues.

High School – Required

Ninth – United States History and Geography

Ninth grade American History focuses on the post-Civil War Industrial Age through the present day. Students gain broader awareness of major political, philosophical, and historical underpinnings of our government, which they use to analyze how ideas of freedom and equality have shaped our collective past and explore implications for the future.  Within this framework, major geographic themes are infused using historical context.

Tenth – Civics

This one semester course, deepens students’ knowledge of the workings of government, the role of citizens in American society, and prepares them to make reasoned judgments on public policy and become active in civic life.

Tenth – Economics

This one semester course helps students understand how economies function and how to apply the concepts and principles of economics to their lives as individuals and citizens.

Eleventh – World History and Geography

In World History and Geography, students develop an understanding of the evolution of the world’s cultures, societies, people, events. They learn about interactions among people and the environment, using time and space to examine global, interregional and regional interconnectedness.

High School – Advanced Placement

Ninth – Twelfth – European History AP

This course involves the study of European history since 1450.  It introduces students to cultural, economic, political and social developments that played a role in shaping the world.

Ninth – Twelfth – Government and Politics: Comparative AP

Students gain deeper knowledge of the world’s diverse political structures and practices.  Specific case studies such as Great Britain, China, France, Soviet Union, India, Mexico, and Nigeria will be used to distinguish the various structures.

Ninth – Twelfth – Government and Politics: United States AP

Students will strengthen familiarity with institutions, groups, beliefs and ideas that constitute U. S. politics.  The course will employ analytical perspectives on U. S. government and politics using specific case studies.

Ninth – Twelfth – Macroeconomics AP

Students will strengthen their under-standing of the principles of economics that deals with performance, governments and the economy, and the global economy.

Ninth – Twelfth – Microeconomics AP

Students will learn the principles of economics that apply to how markets work, business and labor, and money, banking and finance.

Ninth – Twelfth – Psychology AP

The content of this course includes study of: history and approaches; research methods; biological bases of behavior; sensation and perception; states of consciousness; learning, cognition, motivation and emotion; developmental psychology; personality, testing and individual differences; abnormal psychology; psychological disorders and treatment; and social psychology.

Ninth – Eleventh – United States History AP

This course will focus on critical examination of the development of the U.S., its relationship with other nations, and the responsibilities and challenges created by its size, wealth, and complexity.

Eleventh – World History AP

Develops in students a greater understanding of the development of the world’s cultures, societies, people, events, and interactions among people and the environment, using time and space to examine global, interregional and regional interconnectedness.

High School – Electives

Ninth – Eleventh – African American History

Explores the unique African heritage and culture that have influenced the lives of African Americans in the Diaspora. Emphasis is on a greater awareness of the role of African Americans in the development of America and the United States history.

Ninth – Eleventh – African Civilizations

This is a survey of Africa’s contributions to world history and civilization from 5000 BC to 1800 AD. Major issues in African civilizations are covered indepth.

Ninth – Eleventh – African Studies

This course will familiarize students with the geography, culture and history of the various African societies from ancient times, and enhance their knowledge of impending implications for today’s Africans.

Ninth – Twelfth – Anthropology

Students will gain better understanding of cultural diversity, and appreciation for common values that unite all human beings. The course includes the study of human evolution, the archaeological record, language and culture, and the relationship between humans and their environment (in time and space).

Ninth – Twelfth – Asian Studies

Students will be introduced to the geography, culture and history of the various Asian countries. The primary focus will be on the growth and development of East Asia and China, Korea and Japan. The impact of western influence on East Asian culture will also be examined.

Ninth – Eleventh – Basic Law

Provides students with basic knowledge of the law, judicial process, and their rights and responsibilities.

Ninth – Twelfth – Criminal Justice

Provides an overview of the administration of criminal justice and the history and philosophy of agencies that comprise the criminal justice system in the United States.

Ninth – Twelfth – Ethnic Studies

Study of selected cultures and immigrant groups and their experiences in America.

Ninth – Twelfth – Latin American History

Students will explore the history and culture of South and Central America, and Mexico from the Pre-Columbian Era to the present. Special emphasis will be placed on the contributions of Olmec, Mayan, Aztec, and Incan civilizations.

Ninth – Twelfth – Living Skills and Character Education

This course provides basic knowledge of civil rights, community skills, transportation and maintenance of home exterior and interior.

Ninth – Eleventh – Native American Studies

This course provides an overview of indigenous people of North America. The course includes a survey of the history and culture of Native Americans and the impact of European colonization upon those cultures, both in an historical and contemporary context.

Ninth – Twelfth – Psychology

Surveys the basic theories and principles of elementary psychology that focus on social behavior, personality, research methods, designing reports, and analyzing theories and concepts.

Ninth – Eleventh – Social Responsibility

This course supports development of responsible citizens. Self discipline, conflict resolutions, good communication, personal finance, basic law, education/career planning and social skills will be taught in this course.

Ninth – Twelfth – Sociology

This one semester course is designed to introduce students to the study of society. Special attention will be given to the nature of culture and the role it plays for individual and for society, social interaction, social nature, groups, deviance as a social construct relative to time, place and social circumstances, functions and structure of social institutions, social problems, and how society changes.

Ninth – Twelfth– Student Government

This program will prepare students to become knowledgeable and active citizens, and leaders within our community. The program will provide students a practice forum for parliamentary procedures, where they can critically dialogue on various issues which affect our schools and community; develop and improve leadership skills; and actively participate in solving real community problems through various Service Learning Projects.

Ninth – Eleventh – Test Taking Skills

This course prepares students to achieve higher scores on standardized tests. It is designed to assist students in the mastery of proper study skills, test taking techniques, and wise choices.

Student programs and activities

  • Michigan Mock Trial Competition
  • Michigan Youth in Government Conferences
  • Mini Society
  • Mock Elections
  • Money Smart Week
  • Passport to Africa
  • Project Citizen
  • School Credit Unions
  • Service Learning Competition
  • Service Learning Projects
  • Service Learning Showcase
  • Social Studies Olympiad
  • Street Law
  • Teen Court
  • Teen Leadership Conference
  • Teen Leadership Institute (Student Council)
  • Voter Registration Drives

Related Social Studies Resources