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Patricia Lehmann

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Social Studies

Social Studies Instructional Materials and Curriculum Adoption

The Department of Education does not offer textbook suggestions because Iowa is a local control state. Likewise, Keystone does not recommend textbooks, but we can offer resources and information to help guide your curriculum/resources selection.



Instructional Materials Decision Guide

Curriculum Consideration Guides

  • The curriculum revision process is an important component of ensuring a viable and rigorous curriculum for each and every student in a school setting. The Checklist for Social Studies Curriculum guides districts through a comprehensive process when they are undergoing the social studies curriculum revision process.

  • InquirED Curriculum Rubric: While this is a commercial program-based resource, the rubrics focus on inquiry and as such provide quality considerations as you choose resources. inquirED’s Curriculum Review Guide includes five rubrics that can be used to evaluate the essential components of a social studies curriculum: Inquiry-Based Instruction; Culturally Responsive Education; Standards-Based Instruction and Assessment; High-Quality, Diverse Sources; and Learner Supports and Continuous PD.

Textbook Evaluation and Quality Units Rubrics

  • Textbook Evaluation Rubric: A starting point for evaluating textbooks but the caution is that hte rubric is based on Nevada’s state standards and the criteria are not focused on inquiry in social studies.

  • Modeled after the EQuIP rubric in ELA/Literacy, Mathematics, and Science, the Rubric to Evaluate the Quality of Units in Social Studies helps teachers and districts evaluate the quality of instructional units in social studies.

Instructional Materials and Guide

  • TNTP Instructional Materials decision Guide

  • Open Educational Resources  (OER) is another tool districts are using to create their own “textbooks”.  Interesting concept.  The material is free and can be manipulated to create text materials suited to your teacher’s needs (while also, of course, meeting standards!). Social studies does not appear to be as robust in offerings as it is for other content areas. 

  • Social studies provide a rich avenue for students to engage with multiple primary and secondary sources. The creation of text sets is one way to ensure students access authentic, complex texts. See a Guide to Creating Text Sets.

Additional Resources


Pulitzer Center

Kids Go Global


Textbook Companies

An article that may be worthy of consideration before starting your textbook exploration is Widely Adopted History Textbooks.




Pearson Education


Read Inquire Write (designed for gr. 6-8)



Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt



McGraw Hill Education

Santillana USA Publishing Co., Inc. (possible ELL supports)


National Geographic

Discovery Education