August 22, 2014

A Look at Split Grade Social Studies - Grade 5/6

Unsure how to teach People and Environments for your Canadian 5/6 split class? Click through for some great tips and ideas to do just that!

I've been hearing from many teachers lately concerned about how to keep their sanity while trying to handle the new 2013 Ontario Social Studies Curriculum in a split grade, and as I have rarely taught a straight grade, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on the topic.

                    Grade 5/6:  People and Environments

The Grade 5/6 split is one that can be particularly troubling for teachers, as at first glance the units can seem so unrelated, but I think if we take a closer look, the expectations are actually quite similar.  Today I'm going to explore the People and Environments strand:
  • Grade 5:  The Role of Government and Responsible Citizenship
  • Grade 6:  Canada's Interactions with the Global Economy

Basically the Grade 5 unit has students look at current social & environment issues within the country from various perspectives, examining and evaluating the actions taken by various levels of government to address these issues, and explore their own responsibilities as citizens as they create action plans to address these issues.

The Grade 6 unit has students explore current social, political, economic, and environmental issues withing the global community, examining and evaluating the actions taken by Canadian federal, provincial/territorial & local governments as well as NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) to address these issues and explore Canada's participation in different international accords, organizations, and programs.

Can you see the commonalities here? 
  • The Grade 5's are basically looking at social & environmental issues within our country, seeing how various levels of government handle these issues, and then go on to explore how they themselves can influence how decisions are made through their own activism.
  • The Grade 6's are also looking at social & environmental issues (and adding on political & economic issues), but this time within the entire world, and seeing how Canadian governments, governments from other countries, and NGOs handle these issues.  Instead of creating their own action plans, they go on to explore Canada's international presence within various organizations.
In a Grade 5/6 split I see the potential here to perhaps keep the focus on social and environmental issues, such as child poverty or the protection & availability of clean water within Canada as well as within the world.

What do you think?  Does this seem reasonable?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. Thank you for a great synopsis of the Big Ideas! I see a lot of units and information on Citizenship so I think I will actually start with this strand. We naturally talk about class expectations and every person's role in our learning community at the beginning of the year. That leads nicely to extending that to the community, province, country and world :) I look forward to a year of learning with you and sharing great ideas.

  2. I agree that at the beginning of the year teachers spend time with their classes discussing the rights and responsibilities of each person in the classroom community, and that could quite easily be extended to looking at the responsibilities of governments. Thanks for your insight!