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Wisconsin State Social Studies Standards

Instructor: Carrie Soucy
Social studies standards in Wisconsin describe what students should learn in five subject areas and are broken down into three grade bands. Read on for detailed descriptions of these standards and discover some tools to help educators implement them.

Social Studies Standards in Wisconsin

Wisconsin's Model Academic Standards for Social Studies include standards for political science, geography, history, behavioral science and economics. Within each subject area, performance standards detail what students should know upon completion of grades 4, 8 and 12. These standards focus on key concepts that carry through all grades, with skills and knowledge increasing in complexity at each grade band. The key concepts for each area are outlined below.

Political Science and Citizenship

In this discipline, students explore their civic responsibilities and learn how to become effective citizens through the study of government and contemporary political systems. Core concepts include:

  • Citizen rights and responsibilities
  • The foundations and structure of the U.S. government, including separation of powers and the party system
  • The structure, purpose and function of laws
  • Different forms of community involvement and advocacy
  • The principles of democracy and the roles of government
  • The role of special interest groups, international organizations and political parties
  • The structure of different political ideologies
  • The history and impact of discrimination as well as social and civil rights movements
  • Resources useful for understanding political issues

History Standards

The history standards in Wisconsin require students to understand how events in state, U.S. and world history have affected the present. Core concepts include:

  • The analysis of history through the use of appropriate sources of historical information
  • The progression of different historical eras and how they have influenced each other
  • How different perspectives have influenced the interpretation of historical events
  • The history of political values and how to use evidence to create arguments
  • The historical meaning of governmental flags, symbols and holidays
  • The understanding and analysis of important historical documents
  • Important people and actions in the history of Wisconsin and the United States
  • An era's impact on arts and literature
  • The history of industry, science and technology, how each is regulated and the impact of each throughout history
  • The interactions between different societies and countries, including conflicts, wars and alliances, and the analysis of the issues that cause it
  • The history and current status of Native Americans in Wisconsin
  • The criteria used to organize historical people and events in different ways
  • How governments and civilizations are formed and change throughout history
  • The history and impact of major world religions
  • Discrimination throughout history and efforts - both past and present - that have been made to mitigate it

Geography Standards

Standards in this subject cover the disciplines of both physical and human cultural geography. Students work on understanding the following concepts:

  • The tools - including computer technology, the different types of photography and maps - used to study the Earth's physical features
  • The location of important geographical formations, such as continents, oceans and ecosystems
  • The interaction between people and the natural environment
  • Proper manipulation of geographical measurement tools, such as atlases, charts, maps and databases
  • Predictable and unpredictable environmental events and their impact on societies
  • Inter-community connectedness and the environmental impact of human actions and behavior, including the migration of different groups of people
  • The impact of science and technology on environmental issues
  • The location of different types of natural resources and how their distribution affects different societies
  • How human-built structures reflect different cultures
  • Global issues, such as urbanization and land use, in modern times
  • The interaction between a culture and its scientific advances
  • The development of a region's or country's boundaries

Behavioral Science Standards

These standards include the subjects of sociology, anthropology and psychology. Students examine the interactions between individuals and social institutions through these key concepts:

  • The different factors - both societal and biological - that impact learning, development, personal identity and mental health
  • Family dynamics
  • The influence of ethnicity and culture on humans and the dynamics of change and continuity within a society
  • The impact of institutional structures and group dynamics
  • The basis for different behaviors and reactions, including the role of such factors as race, age and prejudice
  • Different types of institutions and the methods - including media, arts and literature - by which people learn about them
  • The societal contributions of different individuals and groups at the state, national and global levels
  • The various ways that human needs are met by the society in which they live
  • How people of different cultures and ethnicities assimilate and blend into their communities
  • The dynamics of conflict and misunderstanding, and cooperation and interdependence, among different groups
  • Artistic expression by different cultures
  • The different types of societal structures (socialism and capitalism, for example)
  • Research best practices for behavioral science

Economics Standards

The micro and macroeconomics concepts needed to develop sound economic decision-making skills are covered by these standards. They include:

  • How finance and money impact life on a daily basis
  • Fundamental principles of economics, such as opportunity cost and productivity, and how they can be applied to state and national economies
  • The economy's role in determining an individual's quality of life
  • The impact of government spending and regulation
  • Risk and profit for businesses
  • Wisconsin's role in the global economy and how it impacts those who live in the state
  • The roles of and interactions between industry, government and labor forces
  • Public vs. private businesses
  • The different types of economic structures, their roles in history and politics and their influences on individuals and societies
  • How government and industry impact the economy
  • An individual's impact on the state, national and international economies
  • Economic instruments and institutions
  • International trade and the global economy

Resources for Educators

Wisconsin teachers charged with implementing these standards can explore the supplemental classroom lessons available in Study.com's self-paced online courses. Each of the following resources includes short videos and quizzes to help check students' understanding of the material:

Standards Grade Level Courses
Political Science High School Introduction to Political Science
History High School High School U.S. History
High School World History
Middle School U.S. History for Middle School
Middle School World History
Elementary School U.S. History for Kids
World History for Kids
Ancient History for Kids
Geography High School Intro to Human Geography
Middle School Middle School Geography
Elementary School Geography for Kids
Behavioral Science High School Topics in Sociology
Intro to Anthropology
High School Psychology
Economics High School High School Economics

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