"Inquiry involves the pursuit of knowledge and understanding by means of questioning" (Doran, 2015).
In grades K-12, the Social Studies curricula is aligned to the New Jersey Student Learning Standards for Social Studies and inquiry is at the heart of instruction and learning.
In grades K-5, the units are structured around unifying themes for each grade level. Topics include the study of families, our communities, New Jersey and America. There are three units per grade level that engage students in a deep study of content. A fourth unit, Special Days Throughout the Year, provides instruction for occasions that are commemorated during the year. Social Studies is taught in alternating units, splitting the instructional year with science. Curriculum is designed using the Inquiry Design Model, which helps to ignite students' curiosity and wonder, which become catalysts for their learning. Each unit poses a compelling question and a series of supporting questions, which drives the sequence of learning in the unit. By the end of each unit, the students are able to construct an argument to answer the compelling question for the unit. Their learning is measured through a series of formative and summative tasks, and students take civil action, both real and simulated, based on their learning. Thus, students are learning to become informed citizens who know how to navigate our democratic process.
In grades 6-8, students take social studies for the first time as a full-year course with a teacher certified, or highly qualified, in that content area. Students study the world and American history through these middle years of their schooling. The courses are divided into units of varying length, determined by the topic. In 6th grade, students are exposed to the beginning of human history and study a range of ancient civilizations while also learning more about how we study history. In seventh grade, students study American history beginning with the early American colonies and ending with Reconstruction. In eighth grade, students study the medieval world from Japan to Europe and how the Reformation and the Renaissance led to the age of Enlightenment. Beginning in 6th grade, there are classes offered at different academic levels. In these three grades, students who qualify through the district’s criteria, are eligible to take the Enrichment (E) course.
The State of New Jersey requires that a student successfully complete one year of world history/cultures, and a two-year program in U. S. History. Each of the full year courses earns 5 credits. World Civilizations II is the second year of a two year program beginning in the 8th grade. The United States History courses are sequential and are divided at World War I. The course offerings in high school follow a suggested sequence to ensure that students meet the requirements for graduation while building a firm foundation in the history and culture of the United States and the world. Each of the required courses is offered at different academic levels, designed to meet the needs of varied learners. The department offers an elective course designed to meet the financial literacy graduation requirement. Electives are offered to meet the interests of students and provide balance to their high school academic experience. The department has four popular Advanced Placement electives, which include United States Government and Politics, European History, Seminar, and Psychology. Electives are also offered in Sociology, Women’s Studies, Pop Culture, Human Development, Economics, Global Studies, and Abnormal Psychology.