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History Writing and the History-Social Science Framework


How can we address the standards through assigning discipline-specific writing tasks?


HSS Framework Cover imageWriting for history-social science offers students opportunities to engage in inquiry and develop an interpretation using evidence from a variety of informational sources. This disciplinary process of reading texts, weighing and categorizing evidence, and developing a response to a question aligns to the writing standards set forth by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) as well as the new California History-Social Science Framework.


The CCSS Appendix A identifies this discipline-specific process:

In history/social studies, students analyze evidence from multiple primary and secondary sources to advance a claim that is best supported by the evidence, and they argue for a historically or empirically situated interpretation.

To be successful writers in history, students must have the ability to read and analyze multiple sources on a topic, have a deep understanding about the historical period under study, and the ability to respond to a question and organize evidence to support their argument. This writing curriculum breaks down this process so teachers can work with their students to deepen their ability to engage with each step of the writing process.

At the center of this instruction is the emphasis on historical inquiry, with students engaging in a study of a specific historical topic through questions. These inquiry questions are modeled throughout the California Framework for History-Social Science and allow students to consider historical events through the lens of historical thinking concepts, such as cause and consequence and change over time. These historical thinking concepts (such as cause and consequence) provide a conceptual lens for students to consider historical evidence and organize their own interpretations.  

The process of developing text-based interpretations on historically relevant issues is an activity that should engage all students in our history-social science classrooms including English Learners. By offering these students a specific model for writing, we provide all students the structures and frames that they need to develop academic language.


California’s English Learner Framework offers specific guidance:

As do all students, ELs in high school work their way towards fluency and proficiency in English by becoming increasingly conscious about how and why they manipulate language.  

Our intention with this writing curriculum is to offer history-social science teachers a way to develop among all students the rigorous reading, writing and thinking skills required for historical writing, which will provide them the ability to marshal evidence, assess arguments, and draw their own conclusions through writing as well as better prepare them for full civic and professional participation as adults.