Choices- Survey of Social Studies

Course Title and Description: Survey of Social Studies!~ The Global Community

What will become of Syria?  Will there ever be a Palestinian state?  Is Iran the nuclear threat some say it is?  Will the peace be broken between North & South Korea?  Will China dominate the global economy?  What is America’s role in a changing world? These are examples of the types of questions that the first half of our introductory course in Social Studies will explore, using curriculum based on the Choices Program developed by Brown University.  After looking at issues of conflict in the contemporary world, we will zoom back to the beginning of history to learn about critical themes in human geography and history.

Although there will be a rich and dynamic curriculum content for both parts of this course, the current and the earliest part of our history, the competencies for this course are all about skills.  There will be an emphasis on: critical reading, using a wide variety of often complex materials, critical thinking, using the analysis, synthesis, and discussion skills required for role play that forms the core of the Choices Program, and information literacy and writing skills that will be part of the research paper component.  There will also be multiple opportunities to link the study of our contemporary world as well the history with literature in 9th grade Language Arts.

This 9th grade introduction to Social Studies will leave off where the 10th grade course will begin which is Modern history beginning with the Renaissance.

Unit Name:

# of Weeks

1.   Competing Visions of Human Rights:


2.   MIddle East in Transition


3.   China on the World Stage


4.   United States and Afghanistan


5.   Choice of Mexico at the Crossroads, Crisis in Zimbabwe, North Korea and the Nuclear Threat, Cuba’s Past and Future


6.  United States in a Changing World


7.  Fundamentals of Geography: Exploring Ancient Civilizations


8.  Themes of History: Classical Civilizations


9. Introduction to the clash of civilizations: Medieval Distinctions between Eastern & Western Civilizations


10. Research Paper


Sample Lesson

United States and Afghanistan

  • The Geography of Afghanistan

    • Students practice map reading skills and consider how geography has affected Afghan society. Students identify the location of Afghanistan and its neighbors, explore major geographical features, and analyze ethnic distribution in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  • Looking at Afghanistan

    • Students analyze photographs of present day Afghanistan to learn about Afghan life and society. Students consider the benefits and limitations of using photographs as a source for learning about Afghanistan.

  • Life Under the Taliban

    • Students consider how Afghans viewed the Taliban by examining excerpts from two memoirs written by Afghans who lived in Afghanistan in the late 1990s.

  • The Cold War and the Soviet Invasion

    • Students examine the Cold War and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan by analyzing letters between U.S. President Jimmy Carter and the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.

  • Role-Playing the Four Options

    • Working cooperatively students develop and present four options for U.S. policy in Afghanistan to a Senate committee.

  • The Costs of War

    • Students analyze the costs and benefits of the war in Afghanistan and consider the role of the United States in world affairs.

  • Voices from Afghanistan

    • Students use primary sources from the Afghan Women Writers Project to understand the daily experiences of living during the current war.