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Social Studies

The Winnetka Public Schools uses the Understanding by Design approach to curriculum development and documentation.  This framework is used to design learning experiences and assessment with the end in mind: student outcomes.   The identified student outcomes are categorized into three types: Know, Understand and Do (KUD). Transfer goals and essential questions are also part of the Understanding by Design framework as well. Transfer goals consider how and when students will use the skills, knowledge and understandings learned in particular units to other learning and life experiences.  Whereas essential questions are thought-provoking questions that will foster inquiry, meaning-making, and transfer.

To view the transfer goals, essential questions, as well as “KUDs” for this content area, please click the link below.  To view the “KUDs” by grade level, please visit the grade level “Curriculum Summaries” in the left-hand menu.

The intention of the curriculum document is to serve as a dynamic framework that will be built upon and evolve in future years of the curriculum cycle.  Teachers will develop learning plans, share and collaborate amongst each other, and pursue new lines of inquiry and exploration over time.


In the social sciences, we recognize that we live in an increasingly interconnected world with varying beliefs, perspectives, and values.  In modern times, it has become vital for individuals to learn to navigate and interpret the vast array of information they are exposed to on a daily basis.  It is our mission to educate the youth of Winnetka to responsibly, respectfully, and actively evaluate that information; to understand the root causes of what they encounter in modern life and the circumstances that drive others to differ and to take action towards positive change as responsible citizens of a democracy.

Key Beliefs

The Committee established key beliefs that serve as drivers for the curriculum development process. The key beliefs were used in concert with the new state standards in developing the curriculum framework documents. 

  • Inquiry: Children question the world around them, recognize societal issues, and develop meaningful investigations through inquiry.

  • Social Responsibility: The classroom is a microcosm for social problem solving and change, where children develop skills and attitudes needed for fair play, cooperation, and self-expression.  Students learn that together, human beings can make a difference.

  • Action-Democracy: Social Studies provides opportunities towards developing reflective and active democratic citizens with the ability to understand and evaluate other viewpoints, who support a just and humane society, now and in the future.

  • Civics: Develop responsible citizens in a global community through engagement in decision-making and consensus-building opportunities.

  • Cultural Awareness:  We believe in addressing past, current, and future challenges; to shine light into the darkness in the pursuit of understanding.  Children will encounter and explore multiple viewpoints and perspectives to develop critical thinking, empathy, and compassion.

Illinois Social Studies Standards

The vision put forth by the new standards is to produce Illinois graduates who are civically engaged, socially responsible, culturally aware, and financially literate. The Illinois Social Studies Standards adopted in 2017 promote the acquisition of knowledge, but also promotes student participation as active members of our democracy. To this end, the standards document has been organized into two complementary categories, Inquiry and Disciplinary Concepts, to provide a framework for student success in the modern world: