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Understanding and Implementing the Standards in Social Studies


Social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence. Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.

- National Council for the Social Studies Definition of Social Studies

Foundations of the Social Studies Standards

Iowa Social Studies Standards

Instructional Shifts

What instructional shifts do the standards require? Teachers must think about four instructional shifts as they are planning for effective implementation of Iowa’s social studies standards. Check out an Overview of Iowa Core in Social Studies Instructional Shifts. They are:

  • Craft questions that spark and sustain an inquiry
  • Integrate skills and content purposefully
  • Provide opportunities for communicating conclusions and taking informed action
  • Engage in rigorous, student-centered learning

Unpacking the Standards

Additional Resources


  • Check out the Iowa Core Parent Guides. Available in both English and Spanish, the guides provide an overview of what students will learn by the end of each grade level by the Iowa Core. Parent guides are available for each grade level of the Iowa Core standards.

Administrators/Curriculum Directors