Teaching California offers schools and teachers classroom-ready resources designed to engage students in exciting and inspiring investigations of the past.

The California Historical Society (CHS) worked with the California History-Social Science Project (CHSSP) to create Teaching California, an innovative and free online resource of instructional materials to support the implementation of California’s History-Social Science Framework. Funded by a grant from the California Department of Education and made for teachers in classrooms across the state, this program is designed to improve student reading, writing, and critical thinking, while inspiring them to discover the past.

Why Teaching California?

The inspiration for Teaching California came from K-12 teachers who were excited by the changes generated by the new Framework as adopted by the State Board of Education in 2016. However, they lacked the appropriate resources to implement its instructional approach within the curriculum. Engaging and relevant primary sources, organized to address the Framework’s inquiry-based instructional model, were needed. At the same time, CHS was looking for ways to increase the access and use of our vast California archival resources in the classroom. “Teaching California was the result of a huge and unmet need to fulfill the dreams of those who have been pushing to teach with primary sources,” according to Anthea Hartig, former CHS Executive Director and current Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Teaching California was the result of a huge and unmet need to fulfill the dreams of those who have been pushing to teach with primary sources... With this project, we are recognizing the need to frame California experiences, peoples, and the phenomenal diversity of our past, and to incorporate that into contemporary life and the dominant narrative of how history is taught.
Anthea Hartig, Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

Meet Our Team

Teaching California was developed by the California Historical Society and its partner, the California History-Social Science Project, two organizations dedicated to improving students’ understanding of the past and promoting inquiry, engagement, evidence-based interpretation, and student literacy.

This project required collaboration among archivists, librarians, historians, and educators. Diverse areas of expertise among the project’s core team helped develop Teaching California resources into powerful and dynamic pathways to learning, and we are excited to keep this unique process part of our continuing effort to make primary sources available to teachers.

The California Historical Society, founded in 1871, is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire and empower people to make California’s richly diverse past a meaningful part of their contemporary lives.

The California History-Social Science Project provides teachers professional learning and curriculum development. Part of the California Subject Matter Projects, our statewide network of scholars and K-12 teachers work collaboratively to meet the needs of English learners, native speakers with low literacy, and students from economically disadvantaged communities.

About the History-Social Science Framework

Teaching California helps teachers and school districts implement California’s History-Social Science Framework. CHSSP served as the primary writer of the Framework, which outlines an instructional approach that promotes student-centered inquiry and encourages students to develop clear and persuasive arguments based on their own interpretations of the past using relevant evidence. The Framework details how educators can teach history-social science to students, while at the same time help to develop student proficiency in English, as outlined in the Common Core and English Language Development Standards.

Inquiry Sets

The instructional materials, or Inquiry Sets, focus on investigative questions from the History-Social Science Framework. Each Inquiry Set includes a collection of sources, historical background and context for the topic, and teacher and student source notes. One literacy strategy, directly related to a source within the Inquiry Set, is provided as an example of how history-social science teachers might approach reading, writing, listening, or speaking in the classroom.

These Inquiry Sets are intended to give teachers a strong start in making instructional choices aligned with inquiry questions from the Framework. Teachers may use these sets in their entirety or pick and choose which sources best suit their students’ learning objectives.

Contributing Institutions

Teaching California is proud to include content from over 60 collections in California and across the US:

Homepage banner image citations: (Left) Del Valle family picnic, Rancho Camulos, Ventura County, California Historical Society, (Center) Two Rosies, Labor Archives and Research Center, (Right) Buddhist temple, Terminal Way, Terminal Island, California Historical Society