Long Term Planning

Ellis mentioned that teachers usually have about 35 weeks of instructional time. The H/SS Framework outlines what is expected at each grade level and can help you decide how the content for your grade level will be emphasized during that 35 weeks. Each section description varies in its length and can give you an idea which areas will receive greater emphasis than other other areas.

Although the H/SS Framework was developed before the H/SS Standards, the two documents have been "coordinated." It is important to use both documents together during the planning process. The H/SSFramework and H/SSStandards are not only used as the basis for planning instruction but also used for adoption of curricular materials and program evaluation.

Social studies often has a chronological basis to it. This is especially true for the grade levels above third grade. Chronology provides a basis for the organization and sequencing of units. If chronology is not the basis for organizing units, you must develop a sequence that makes sense to your learners. Following are two examples of annual planning, one from the fifth grade (using chronology as a basis for sequencing the unit) and a second grade which is less dependent upon chronological order for sequencing of the unit.

Fifth Grade Example:

A fifth grade teacher looked at the main sections outlined in the Framework (pages 64-70) and tried to assign weeks to them based upon comparing how much was written in each section. For instance, "The Land and People People Before Columbus" is a small section compared to "Settling the Colonies: The Virginia Settlement". Based on these comparisons, the teacher designed the following weightings of different units:



The Land People Before Columbus

(including geography)

  • 2

Age of Exploration

  • 2

Settling the Colonies:

  • Virginia Settlement
  • Life in New England
  • Middle Colonies


  • 4 
  • 4 
  • 4

Settling the Trans-Appalachian West

  • 2

The War For Independence

  • 4

*Development of the U.S. Constitution

  • 3

Life in the Young Republic

  • 3

The Nation's Westward Expansion

  • 4

Linking Past to Present: The American

People, Then and Now

  • 2


The first time the fifth grade teacher planned the weightings, she did not have *Development of the U.S. Constitution, however, when she checked the Standards, she saw that topic was emphasized and therefore decided to include a unit to address this standard. She then created a time line of the year, from the time the school year began, putting in all of the vacation breaks, and other known curricular influences (teacher work days, open house etc.) She then placed the units into the annual calendar and made slight adjustments to units of instruction based on the breaks/vacations (see graphic organizer: Annual Plan, Grade Five: "United States History and Geography: Making a New Nation 1, 2, 3" .) This organizer is based on a traditional calendar. Adjustments would need to be made for a year round track.

She now has an idea of how many units she will teach during the year and about how long she will spend on each of the units. Having this plan will allow her to collect resources as she comes across them. So even though she is planning currently for, say, "The Constitution" she may run across an excellent resource for "The West", she can record and save that information for the later unit. She can now predict what the topic will be for a unit to be taught in about 12-14 weeks.


Second Grade Example:

A second grade teacher also studied the Framework (pages 42-45: People Who Make a Difference.) The Framework lists three large sections: People Who Supply Our Needs; Our Parent, Grandparents and Ancestors from Long Ago; and People From Many Cultures, Now and Long Ago. Also, the Standards for second grade helped him organize and narrow down some of the topics. He designed the following weightings:




Map skills

o map characteristics,

physical features

o neighborhood

o community

o ancestors (segue to next unit)


Now & Long Ago

o family history

o daily life (now and long ago)

o personal time line


*Institutions and Practices of the U.S. Government

  • making laws, carrying out laws, violation of laws
  • Groups and nations interact
  • Groups and nations resolve conflicts



o food production now and long ago

o consumers/producers

o limited resources


Heroes Long Ago and Recent Past


Notice that the second grade teacher included a unit *"Institutions and Practices of the U.S. Government" that was not described in the Framework but was described in the Standards. He decided to create a unit that would introduce his students to this standard.

One of his colleagues decided not to have a separate unit of Heroes Long Ago and in the Recent Past, but rather weave a study of heroes into all of the other units. Thus, the colleague lengthen each of her other units to include the study of heroes. The second grade teachers also noticed that the Framework described "People From Many Cultures Now and Long Ago". They decided to include cultural diversity throughout all of the units.

The second grade teacher then took the units and applied them to a time line starting with the beginning of his school year. He used a traditional calendar and then adjusted units to the holidays, vacations etc. (See graphic organizer: Annual Plan, Grade Two: People Who Make a Difference) 1, 2, 3.



Look at the H/SS Framework the H/SSStandards for your grade level. As you read them, try to assign time allotments to each of the sections. (Use the Grade Five and Two Graphic Organizers as models). A template (Template: Annual Plan for Social Studies Units: September; January; April) for designing an annual plan has been provided. Fill in the months that match your calendar or track that you are on. First delineate vacations/breaks, important dates ( e.g. Open House, Science Fair, grading periods etc.) Design a graphic annual plan for topics and the number of weeks assigned to the topics. These documents were created in Microsoft Word using "Tables". You can highligh multiple cells and either split them into more units or merge cells by using the "draw table" tool bar. You can also color or shade different rows, columns of cells to set off different sections.