Implementing Common Core Standards? Check Out These Lessons

As you implement the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, you may find it challenging to create classroom-ready lessons. We encourage you to consider two lessons from the St. Louis Federal Reserve that incorporate the following standards.

Common Core State Standards: Literacy in History/Social Studies and Technical Subjects, Grades 6–12

History/Social Studies

  • Key Ideas and Details: RH.6-8.1: Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
  • Craft and Structure
    • RH.6-8.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
    • RH.9-10.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

Writing Standards: Text Types and Purposes

  • WHST.6-8.1: Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.
  • Introduce claim(s) about a topic or issue, acknowledge and distinguish the claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, and organize the reasons and evidence logically.
  • Support claim(s) with logical reasoning and relevant, accurate data and evidence that demonstrate an understanding of the topic or text, using credible sources.

Lesson one: Ben Franklin was more than just a pretty picture
In the lesson "Ben Franklin: Highlighting the Printer," students must cite textual evidence from an essay about Franklin's advocacy for the use of paper currency in colonial America. The goal is for them to conduct an analysis of the following quote posted in Franklin's Philadelphia print shop window: "If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading or do things worth the writing."

In addition, students use textual references from the essay to determine the meaning of key economic terms such as entrepreneur, human capital, entrepreneurship, profit, and competition. The lesson also instructs them to create a timeline of significant events from Franklin's career as a printer by matching dates to specific references from the text. Finally, students use evidence from the text to write a social media post in support of the decision to use Franklin's portrait on the $100 note.

Lesson two: Silver coins forever??
"The Free Silver Movement and Inflation" lesson introduces students to money's function as a medium of exchange. Students participate in a simulated inflation auction to explore the debate at the center of the Free Silver Movement in late-19th-century U.S. history. Students are required to cite textual evidence as they analyze excerpts from William Jennings Bryan's famous "Cross of Gold"speech. Then, using 1890s data of farm income and fixed and variable expenses, students analyze the effects on farmers of a 20-percent rate of inflation versus a 20-percent deflation rate.

These exercises require students to critique the free silver argument for inflation as a means to make debt repayment easier for farmers. Students interpret two anti-Free Silver Movement political cartoons to determine the cartoonists' political points of view.

Watch for more
The Federal Reserve offers many resources for the classroom. You can always search for the latest resources, lessons, and materials at the Federal Reserve System's education website.

By Amy Hennessy, senior economic and financial education specialist, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
March 1, 2013