Welcome to the Teaching California Beta Website!

The California Historical Society (CHS) and our partners at the California History-Social Science Project (CHSSP) are excited to announce the launch the beta website for Teaching California, which provides free and flexible resources for teaching California’s History-Social Science Framework. Over the past year we have worked on developing the first set of grade-level instructional content for K-12 teachers, and building this website as a way of making that content more accessible to teachers and educators across the state. Here are some FAQs to get you started:

What materials do you currently have available on the website?

For those visiting the website upon launch in August 2019, they will find two sets of instructional materials per grade for K-12, which we are calling Inquiry Sets (the exception is Grade 4, where we have three Sets focused on the Missions and one on the Gold Rush, for a total of four). Each Set is designed to align with California’s History Social-Science Framework, which itself integrates both statewide standards for History-Social Science and English Language Development. Read more about our Inquiry Sets here

Throughout the remainder of 2019 and into 2020, we will continue to add additional grade-level Inquiry Sets on an incremental basis. These will cover additional content standards, and will include new sets of curated (and free to access!) primary sources.

Thumbnail collage of select primary sources used in Teaching California.
A sample of some of the primary sources that we currently have available for access on the website, including from the California Historical Society, US National Archives and Records Administration, and the Oakland Museum of California.

Do I have to be a teacher to use the Teaching California website?

No. While we have designed the content and features in Teaching California with K-12 teachers in mind (and by extension, their students), it is open to learners of all ages, for school or personal use. 

How can I use this website?

Teaching California is a dynamic website where K-12 teachers and other educators can discover, share, and adapt resources aligned with California’s new History-Social Science Framework.

Users will be able to:

  • Browse and download Inquiry Sets: collections of relevant primary sources, excerpted by grade-level, along with teaching resources and at least one strategy designed to improve student reading, writing, and / or oral discourse ability.
  • Search for Inquiry Sets and digitized primary sources, by grade and topic.
  • Review the History-Social Science Framework, as well as three sets of California Content Standards by grade level.
  • Share Inquiry Sets and individual sources with fellow educators and learners.
  • Read about new Teaching California project developments and other education news, including opportunities for participating in online and in-person learning experiences around Teaching California content.
Screenshot of Chapter 3 (for Kindergarten) on teachingcalifornia.org.
While browsing grade-level chapters of the Framework, users can discover Inquiry Sets aligned with that particular grade.

Where do the primary sources included in the project come from?

We have a wonderful opportunity with this project to include primary sources from repositories across California and the United States, to serve as the focus of our instruction and inquiry. These are sources from public libraries, university libraries, museums, archives, state parks, and other cultural institutions who have rich and often rarely-explored collections of historical materials. See a current list of who has contributed material to this project on our About page.

In addition, as leaders of the project, CHS is able to spotlight, and in some cases digitize, parts of its collections for inclusion in Teaching California. This includes fascinating items such as a letter written on a shirt collar during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (included for Grade 2), Charlotte Brown’s plea to the court against Omnibus Railroad Company (included for Grade 12 Government), and a stunning group portrait of nine miners during the Gold Rush (included for Grade 7).

Group portrait of nine miners, all men. Four men stand at back, five men sit at front. Man at front right holds a book; two men sitting at front hold mining equipment, including a shovel.
“[Group of miners], circa 1850s.” Photograph. California Historical Society, Group of miners, 1849-1860, DAG 9G.

If you would like to explore more California history collections currently digitized and online, please visit our Digital Library


We are hard at work producing new materials to address additional grade-level standards, which will tentatively be available late fall of 2019. Stay up to date with our News for more information on when these rollouts will be happening.

As the Teaching California Project Manager, I would like to thank our hard-working and fantastic team at CHS, as well as our content development partners at CHSSP, who provide their expertise in history instruction and as the primary authors of the Framework. Thank you to Navigation North for the creative vision and education expertise they brought to developing this website, and to the repositories, contributors, and funders who helped make this all possible. Please see more on our Acknowledgements page.

If you have more questions about Teaching California, please contact teachingcalifornia@calhist.org

Uncovering Remarkable Documents in Teaching California

Diary entry of Captain Fernando Rivera y Moncada at Monterey on October 3, 1774; Fernando Rivera y Moncada diary, 1774-1777, MS Vault 48; California Historical Society.

The California Historical Society often relies on scholars in the field to illuminate new areas of collection and research. When exploring primary sources for our new Teaching California project, we came across two remarkable documents from our manuscripts collection that will soon be incorporated into our growing set of K-12 instructional materials. The first, a Spanish diary entry from California’s Mission period, and the second, a Chinese newspaper published in San Francisco shortly after the Gold Rush, both offer an insight into the daily lives of those living and working in two significant periods of California’s history. Below, we hear briefly from the two scholars who helped us translate these documents, including why these particular sources are important to them. 

The first document, highlighted for fourth graders studying the Mission period, is one of many brief, daily entries by Rivera y Moncada, the Spanish military commandant of Alta California, 1774-1777. Written a few years after the second Franciscan mission and presidio in the Californias was established in present-day Monterey county, the diary includes a list of soldiers, craftsmen, and other non-native people living in California at the time. 

Rose Marie Beebe, Professor of Spanish based at Santa Clara University, California, undertook the translation of the 18th century Spanish-language document. She wrote about the entry’s significance: 

“On October 3, 1774, Fernando de Rivera y Moncada, commander of the Monterey Presidio, reported that the native peoples had started a large fire to the west of the fort. He knew what they were doing: “They set fire to the field so that new growth will sprout up from the ashes.” Yet a number of soldiers went out to extinguish the fire. They did so, Rivera wrote “to preserve the Fields.”

Rivera’s remarks dramatically highlighted the different forms of food production that were present in colonial Alta California. The Spanish introduced European-style agriculture and were concerned that the crops that they had introduced into the region would not be able to grow in a charred landscape. The indigenous people, however, had lived for centuries from the food provided by the natural environment. They understood that fire was an important means of rejuvenating the soil that produced the fruits, berries, acorns, and other sustenance on which both they and the other living creatures with which they shared the California environment depended. Europeans were quickly exposed to this indigenous method of resource management. For example, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sailed into San Pedro Bay in 1542 and was greeted by thick fires onshore, causing him to name the place La BahIa de los Humos– the Bay of Smoke. He may well have been witnessing a series of controlled burns. As contemporary scholar M. Kat Anderson has written, “Fire was the most significant, effective, efficient, and widely employed vegetation management tool of California Indian tribes.” (M. Kat Anderson, Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 136). Rivera’s diary demonstrated that over 200 years later, Europeans in California still did not fully understand the ecological wisdom that was an essential part of the indigenous Californians’ way of life.”

Below is Beebe’s English translation of the Moncada’s diary entry:

October 1 Señor don Juan Soler: Have three fanegas1 of beans and eight of corn sent tothe escolta2 at San Antonio. Because they have run out of lard and meat, send them the same amount of rations of ham given to the men here, that is, five ounces per ration. With regard to the cost [of the food] and the sacks [for transporting the food], you and the corporals can come to an agreement on that.And, if you should deem it necessary to notify me about any issue, I shall not hesitate to intervene in whatever manner is most appropriate. Monterey, October 1, 1774. Rivera

[October] 2 Sunday             Nothing to report.

[October] 3       A large fire was set west of us. It was burning the countryside and was drawing closer to the presidio. Soldiers, young men, and even I, went out and managed to extinguish the fire, not because the homes were at risk, but rather to preserve the fields. The gentiles3 have a bad habit of creating this kind of work for us. After their seeds have all been gathered and because they have no animals to take care of, their main concern is their bellies. They set fire to the fields so that new growth will sprout up from the ashes. It is also a way to catch rabbits that are trying to escape from the dense smoke.

1 One fanega is equivalent to about 1.6 bushels.
2 The escort or squad of soldiers assigned to protect a missionary at a mission.
3 Non-baptized Indians.

The Golden Hills News. May 27, 1854. California Historical Society, Chinese in California Virtual Collection, Newspaper Collection, Box 2. 

For seventh graders, Teaching California authors chose this Chinese newspaper from our collections for an inquiry set exploring San Francisco as a Site of Encounter. The front page of the May 27, 1854 edition of the Golden Hills News features both Cantonese language characters and one column of English text. The publisher’s welcome note in English reads: “Merchants, Manufacturers, Miners, and Agriculturists, come forward as friends, not scorners of the Chinese, so that they may mingle in the march of the world, and help to open America an endless vista of future commerce.”

Roland Hui, an independent historian based in San Francisco who helped with the English translation, had this to say about this special document: 

“The Golden Hills’ News is a very special newspaper. In the words of the famed historian Him Mark Lai, it was the first Chinese-language weekly in the world that embodied all the ingredients of a modern newspaper. And for me to play a part in sharing this treasure with a wider audience is extremely gratifying. In doing the translation, I had a fun time trying to figure out the original English names of places, people, and ships from which the Chinese versions were transliterated. The contemporary issues of the Daily Alta California helped me ascertain most of them. For those few that I could not find any reference, it will be hilarious to know how widely I missed the target.”

Below is an excerpt from Hui’s English translation of the Chinese portion of the newspaper:

[Front page, Purpose of the Newspaper] The purpose of publishing a newspaper is to promote commerce, provide knowledge, convey public sentiments, and communicate government regulations. Now, California is the meeting place of people from all over the world, and various countries have published their own newspapers except the Chinese. Therefore, although there are many Chinese merchants, they lack the skills to run their businesses, have limited general knowledge, and are powerless to make decisions. They do not fully understand business conditions, and are easily manipulated by tricksters; they are ignorant of government regulations, and are bullied by those with evil intensions. It is a pity that they, despite having years of experience, are struggling in their business and facing so many obstacles. This has prompted me to start this Golden Hills’ News, and use the Chinese language to describe daily happenings about Chinese and American business and government and legal affairs. It will be published every Saturday, so that people will know what is going on. If you have business news, we can advertise it here. That way, business will flourish, knowledge will expand, public sentiments will be felt, and government regulations will be understood; and to the Chinese this is by no means a small benefit. – Mr. Howard 

Food prices: 

Coffee: 18¢ per pound 

Fine salted pork: $27/per large barrel 

Medium salted pork: $22, $23 per barrel 

Fine salted beef: $18, $20 per large barrel 

Medium salted beef: $20 per barrel 

Fine ham: 20¢ per pound 

Fine bacon: 15¢, 16¢ per pound 

Manilla fine sugar: 7¢, 8¢ per pound 

Lard: 15¢, 16¢ per pound 

Fine Chinese sugar: 9¢ per pound 

Second-rate Chinese sugar: 8¢ per pound 

Fine black tea: 50¢, 55¢ per pound 

American fine sugar: 12.5¢ per pound 

Chinese rice: 5¢, 6¢, 6.25¢ per pound 

Carolina Rice: 6¢ per pound 

Manilla rice: 3¢, 3.5¢ per pound 

In this city, barbarians of different nationalities bully the Chinese too much. From now on, if a Chinese is harassed, beaten, or cheated, he can report it to Mr. Howard so an English notice can be translated and sent to all countries. Chinese do not have to suffer mistreatments in silence. Mr. Howard is located at 163 Clay Street, upstairs. 

People from different countries who come to America and wish to become Americans can first go to court and take an oath. The court will issue a paper which can be renewed every two years. With that they can go to the hills to dig gold and do other things without having to pay for a license. If you wish to learn more, please visit Mr. Howard upstairs for a more detailed discussion.

… 

Our Teaching California collections team has been busy researching and preparing documents like these over the past year, including working with our partners at the California History-Social Science Project to carefully incorporate over 60 primary sources from our collections into the project’s instructional materials.

Excitingly, we are creating newly-digitized copies of these primary sources for inclusion in Teaching California, and teachers will find these documents and more when as we launch and continue to develop the project website In the meantime, visit teachingcalifornia.org for more details about the project, and follow along here on our blog for more updates. We look forward to uncovering more stories as we dig deeper into the primary sources in our collections!

The California Historical Society is working in partnership with the California History-Social Science Project (CHSSP) at UC Davis to establish and implement Teaching California: a free and expansive online set of instructional materials to support the State’s new K-12 History-Social Science Framework. This post comes from Kerri Young, Teaching California Project Manager. You can reach out to her at kyoung@calhist.org

On the Road: California Council for the Social Studies in San Jose, 2019

Man’s shirt collar inscribed with letter from James Graves Jones to Mr. and Mrs. Wayland Edgar Jones, 1906. Artifacts Fine Arts Collection; California Historical Society. We’ve included this source in one of our Teaching California lessons, called “Inquiry Sets,” for the second grade.

On March 15th, California Historical Society (CHS) Reference Librarian Frances Kaplan and I traveled to the annual California Council for the Social Studies (CCSS) conference to promote CHS’s new curriculum project, Teaching California. Each year, the CCSS conference aims to deliver professional development for educators focused on new scholarship, research-based strategies, and networking — all designed to improve the teaching and learning of history/social studies across the state. Held this year in San Jose, CCSS 2019 was filled to the brim with presentations, workshops, and exhibitors, and was well-attended by educators from across the state.

Shelley Brooks, California History-Social Science Project (CHSSP) Program Coordinator, previewing student and teacher resources found in Teaching California’s instructional materials in PowerPoint
Shelley Brooks, California History-Social Science Project (CHSSP) Program Coordinator, previewing student and teacher resources found in Teaching California’s instructional materials focused on the California Missions (taught in 4th grade).

Frances and I presented at two separate sessions (one aimed at the elementary school-level and one at the high school-level), each together with members of our Teaching California curriculum partners at the California History-Social Science Project. In these sessions, titled “Teaching CA: Bringing Archives into the Classroom,” we introduced teachers and administrators to our project, a joint collaboration between archivists, librarians, educators, and subject specialists.

Our goal is to empower teachers to engage in inquiry instruction that is aligned to California’s History-Social Science Framework. In both sessions, teachers practiced the historical investigation process and, excitingly, previewed some of the inquiry-based lessons (and primary sources!) that we are creating for the project. Here are more scenes from our sessions:

Tuyen Tran, Assistant Director of CHSSP, going over the basics of California’s new History-Social Science Framework in a PowerPoint presentation.
Tuyen Tran, Assistant Director of CHSSP, going over the basics of California’s new History-Social Science Framework. Teaching California will create Framework-aligned materials that will aid in school and classroom implementation.
Elementary school teachers review drafts of Teaching California’s second-grade instructional materials, which includes never-before-seen objects and photographs from CHS’s collections.
https://twitter.com/WendyLRouse/status/1106607446133399552

To view the slides for one of our CCSS sessions on Teaching California, visit this link.


This post comes from Kerri Young, Teaching California Project Manager. You can reach out to her at kyoung@calhist.org

Digital Curriculum Educator Survey Results from the Teaching California project

With a summer 2019 launch on the horizon, the California Historical Society (CHS) is continuing work on the Teaching California website initiative, which will provide California classroom teachers and students with curriculum and primary sources tied to the state’s recently adopted History-Social Science Framework.

Our team has the pleasure of working with the education-focused-web development firm Navigation North, who have been helping CHS think through how to build an experience around the grade-level instructional materials we are creating with our partners at the California History-Social Science Project (CHSSP), called “Inquiry Sets.” An initial piece of research that helped us explore this was a Digital Curriculum Needs Survey, which Navigation North created and CHSSP and CHS distributed to teachers late last year.

This survey sought to find out how teachers, and particularly History-Social Science teachers, are currently searching for curriculum materials online, what their level of proficiency with technology is both in and out of the classroom, and the variety of materials they are looking for online. Thanks to CHSSP’s extensive teacher network, we were able to collect responses from more than 300 educators! The chart below exhibits the categories of teachers who responded:

The results were a revealing look the current relationship that teachers have with online resources in the classroom.

Above, the results show that personal use of technology outpaces professional use, meaning that strong adoption of technology in teachers’ personal lives does not necessarily transfer over into their professional processes.

Here are some other high-level takeaways from the survey:

Mostly Veteran, Secondary Teachers
Over 50% of respondents are long-time instructors (+57% = +15 years experience), teaching in single-subject assignments at public middle / high schools (+78%).

Most Believe in the Instructional Value of Teacher Technology Use
Over 80% of respondents claim that technology as an instructional planning, delivery, and differentiation tool translates to High or Considerably High Instructional Value. Over 95% claim technology can/does help them provide more diverse learning materials and, in turn, diversify their teaching for improved outcomes.

Little Professional Support and Coordination
Most teachers (+88%) work in schools where there is little/no planning and sharing on effective use of technology in the classroom. And most (+77%) say they are expected to learn new technologies on their own outside of school hours.

Student Use of the Internet Has Benefits, but Requires More Work for the Teacher
Overall, respondents cited higher levels of motivation, collaboration, and student work products when using the Internet. These benefits are coupled with more teacher work to monitor for plagiarism and use of unreliable sources, yet, +73% feel that student access to the internet does NOT result in increased discipline issues.

Teachers Regularly Turn to the Internet for Curriculum
+79% search for online curricular resources several times a week or more for their classrooms.

Teachers Are Looking for A Variety of Curricular Resources and Like to Use Search Terms
From worksheets to assessments and lesson plans to primary sources and media, teachers are looking for everything but use open search terms far more than standards, frameworks, or topic lists.

For a full summary of the results, please go here.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Teaching California project on our blog!

Visual Prototyping Helps Guide a Team in Unlocking California’s History for Classrooms Across the State

Recently, the California Historical Society had the pleasure of bringing on Navigation North as the firm that will help develop the website for our new Teaching California initiative. This future website will serve as a portal that provides classroom-ready curriculum designed to engage students in inspiring investigations of the past. Navigation North’s team of educators and developers work with technology to re-imagine and re-design:

  • How teachers can be better supported in their practice
  • How student learning, in and out of class, can be improved
  • How education systems can be more readily adopted to integrate innovation

The following blog is written by Brian Ausland, Navigation North’s principal researcher and systems design lead. He has worked in the field of education for 19 years and serves as the intermediary between the technology and learning communities he supports. He brings his classroom experience and teaching perspectives central to all systems, projects, and approaches.


Navigation North traveled to San Francisco to do some early-stage visual prototyping with the California Historical Society team. In the heart of the CHS research center, amongst transitioning exhibitions, offices bustling with varied expertise and passion, and a blend of artwork and manuscripts that shape the history of the Golden State, a small room was set aside for a day of thinking and dreaming.

On the horizon for this team, is a new and vibrant site being prepared for California classroom teachers and students that will help provide key curriculum and resources tied to California’s new History – Social Science Framework.

With an audience of primary source specialists, curators, digital archivists and manuscript librarians, Navigation North led a reflective review of key findings around effective, research-based digital curriculum. Teams were then provided a chance to dream, design, and create. But first, we turned off the laptops, silenced our phones and broke out the crafts.

Staff from California Historical Society reviewing ideas for the Teaching California website.

What was a respectable meeting room adorned with handsome, historical portraits from California’s past, became a free-for-all of poster paper, markers, yarn, crayons, sample artifacts, clothes pins, pipe cleaner, clay, common interface buttons, scissors, tape, and glue. With some guidance, discussions began on the topic of intentions, values, and calibration around common desired outcomes. Team members reviewed findings on teachers’ use of digital curriculum and reflected on the value of primary sources as keys to unlocking history, then engaged in creating prototype models that blended all of the above.

Once complete, participating team members posted their visual prototypes where their colleagues could make inquiries about their designs, discuss features, and proposed ways to help teachers and students, “analyze the primary source for its story”. Participants were asked to identify their favorite elements of each other’s designs. Navigation North staff recorded the data, captured pictures, and carefully collected all the resulting work items to bring back for further analysis and compilation of findings.

As part of the Discovery Process, this was a simple first step towards helping diverse team members construct a more comprehensive and shared conceptual approach to a robust, digital, curricular resource. With additional steps pending, we were happy to see the team readily dig-in and engage the process. Stay tuned as this adept team crafts an incredible product to help bring more voices to the story of California’s past.

Spotlighting the Use of Primary Sources in Teaching California

As the California Historical Society (CHS) moves forward with development on Teaching California, our state-funded initiative to offer schools and teachers classroom-ready instructional materials aligned with the new History-Social Science Framework, we’d like to spotlight the important primary source-driven philosophy of our project, and share some of the great examples that we’ve been incorporating in our content development.

In short, the new Framework is an instructional tool by which teachers can cover, and in some cases move beyond, the existing History-Social Science Standards for the state of California. Primary sources like this photo of Chinese citrus worker picking oranges in Santa Ana help answer grade-specific questions of significance, such as “Why do people move?” Students can explore how people moved from place to place, while reflecting on their own family experiences. Picking Oranges at Santa Ana, circa 1890s; General Subjects Photograph Collection-Agriculture; California Historical Society

Examining primary sources, original documents and objects created at the time of study can be an engaging, meaningful, and rigorous way for students to connect to the past. Primary sources give students the ability to trace continuity and change, foster personal connections to a larger narrative, and build deeper community connections. They also invite student inquiry and encourage students to wrestle with the complexities of differing points of view while learning crucial critical thinking and analysis skills. For teachers however, access to engaging and grade-appropriate primary sources is not always matched by a corresponding stress on the tools and context needed to utilize them successfully in the classroom.

Cue the new Framework, which outlines a new inquiry-based model of instruction for California’s K-12 classrooms. Embedded within the Framework are grade-level examples of the types of primary sources that teachers can explore with their students to help address questions of historical significance. Importantly, California’s diversity is seen as an asset and, according to Deputy Superintendent of the California Department of Education Thomas Adams, “a new opportunity for inclusive instruction.” This opportunity is available in recommendations for primary source types—like photos, letters and objects—that are not only engaging, but also inclusive.

But while teachers responded positively to the Framework after its adoption by the California Department of Education in 2016, they also expressed the strong need for access to the type of engaging and relevant primary sources outlined in its pages, organized to easily address the new inquiry-based model.

This need will shape the new collection of classroom-ready instructional materials we create for the project, which will be free and accessible to teachers in Summer 2019 on teachingcalifornia,org. Never-before-seen primary source material, much from CHS’s collections, will lead the student exploration and discovery of history through a uniquely California lens (when appropriate and relevant), and teachers will also find support in historical context, sourcing, and developing student literacy.

As the Framework details, primary sources speak to students’ own lives, heritages, and family identities, and in early grades can help students start developing a sense of history through their own family and community histories. This image of the Shorey family, from Oakland, California, can help students explore the Grade One Framework question, “How do families remember their past?” Capt. William T. Shorey and wife Julia Shelton, daughters Zenobia and Victoria, ca. 1910; Portraits Collection; California Historical Society. 
This is an example of an image that we may use for Grade One, which helps students think through the question, “How do many different people make one nation?” as students explore the ways in which Native Californians and immigrants have helped define Californian and American culture. Washoe Indians–The Chief’s Family; Stereographs of California and Nevada; PC-RM-Stereos; California Historical Society
This photograph from our collections can help address the Framework question, “What have been the costs of the decisions of people in the past?” as students explore the cost of logging or preserving the natural environment. Big Tree, 22 ft. in diameter, Jas. Brown’s Claim, Humboldt Co., California; California Counties Photography Collection; PC-CO; California Historical Society

Our content development partners on Teaching California, The California History-Social Science Project (CHSSP), are current members of the Library of Congress’ Teaching With Primary Sources (TPS) Consortium, a group of institutions across the country who help deliver TPS professional development, design curriculum using primary sources from the Library’s collections and/or conduct research on the classroom use of primary sources. This week, I am fortunate to accompany CHSSP on their annual TPS meeting in Washington DC, and learn from and with those working at the forefront of primary source-led instruction in the classroom. Opportunities like this, as well as further engagement with teachers throughout our development process, will help us continue providing access to primary sources in a way that is not only useful for teachers in the classroom, but will help do our part to shift the pattern of history-social science instruction.


This post was written by Kerri Young, Teaching California Project Manager at the California Historical Society.

Funded by a $5 million grant from the State Department of Education to the California Historical Society, Teaching California offers schools and teachers classroom-ready instructional materials designed to engage students in exciting and inspiring investigations of the past. Comprised of curated primary source material from California’s premier archives, libraries, and museums, this program provides a research-based approach to improve student reading, writing, critical thinking and civic engagement, all aligned with the State’s new K-12 History-Social Science Framework. For everything you need to know about the new Framework, visit CHSSP’s useful blog here.

Designing for our Audiences in Teaching California

The CHS and CHSSP teams reviewing Teaching California primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences and what signifies success for those audiences at an all-hands-on-deck session on April 25th, 2018.

The California Historical Society (CHS) and its partners at The California History and Social Science Project (CHSSP) have the unique opportunity, thanks to a substantial grant from the state’s Department of Education, to develop Teaching California, a free K-12 online curriculum that puts California’s archives at the center of student investigation into the past. Crucial to this initiative will be taking a co-designing approach with the audiences we want to engage, so that what is created is as discoverable and widely-used by those audiences as possible.

Brainstorming Teaching California audiences in an internal session at CHS in early April. Questions explored included: Who are the people or groups reached directly by Teaching California? Which are more peripherally relevant but still stand to benefit from what we create?

When embarking on a user-centered design approach, the first step is to identify and gain empathy for your users. For our project team, this meant making our implicit primary audiences explicit and discussing the range of periphery audiences who stand to benefit from what we create.

On April 25th, CHS and CHSSP teammates met for a session to do just that and to determine what success for those audiences might look like as we plan for website development. CHSSP, based out of the University of California at Davis, are teacher professional development experts and the primary authors of the state’s recently adopted History and Social Science Framework, which provides the foundation for our content work on Teaching California.

While K-12 teachers unsurprisingly emerged as a core primary audience, the California County Offices of Education also emerged as primary audiences for what will be a crucial role in project dissemination to local teachers. Teaching California will also play an important role in the growth and development of both the CHSSP and CHS organizations, who will also serve as important primary audiences. This was a fun and productive session and our group cycled through many self-adhesive flipcharts!

An excerpt of the questions we explored to form our user profiles.

Following this session, we worked with CHSSP to develop basic user profiles for the primary audiences we identified. User profiles acts as a cursory audience examination, allowing a project team to think more holistically about a project and to start to tie ‘why’ a project is being developed together with ‘whom’ it is being developed for. While we will have the opportunity to continue a more in-depth audience analysis in the coming months, this exercise allowed us to scope out the basic needs and motivations of those we will be designing for.

As we aim for statewide reach for Teaching California, which we hope will help spur Framework adoption across all corners of the state, identifying our audiences has helped our CHS website design team address some important challenges including: How can we create an online resource for the diverse California school communities teachers serve, and how can we co-design with them throughout the project to continue addressing needs?

We are looking forward to continuing to develop out our process for co-designing for our audiences, so follow along with our progress here!