NYS Board of Regents (PDF)
About This Guide (PDF)
What Is a Culture?
by Nancy Jervis, Ph.D.
Culture: A Geographical Perspective
by Charles Heatwole, Ph.D.
Call For Content
How to Select World
The following is a list of factors to consider and
questions to ask when determining specific world communities
to study in the grade 3 classroom. This is not a definitive
list, but a representative sample of factors contributed by
Dr. Jervis, and teachers and supervisors from across the
Look at the student population in your classroom, school,
- What cultures are represented?
Look around your city, town, or village.
- What cultures are present?
- What groups influenced your community at different
Look at local restaurants: their types of foods and
- What cultures do they represent?
Look at the news.
- What cultures/nations are economically and politically
important to the United States?
Look at the United States, New York State, and/or local
community census data.
- What ethnic groups do people identify themselves with?
Ensure that the representation of world communities is
1. Select a community from each continent.
- About three to six communities for
the entire year provide enough balance to encompass diverse
- Two or fewer communities do not
provide enough variety.
- Find a balance between depth and
2. Within each world community selected, look at urban,
suburban, and rural areas for geographic diversity.
- Pick from major and smaller metropolitan areas,
residential towns and villages, and remote settlements.
3. Select communities from a variety of physical regions.
- Examples are mountainous areas, deserts, forests,
4. Select communities from a variety of climate types.
- Examples are tropical, Mediterranean, arctic.
5. Select communities with different types of government.
- Examples are democracies, dictatorships, monarchies.
6. Consider selecting communities that are not represented
in other courses in the New York State prekindergarten -
grade 12 social studies program.
- Australia, for example, is a country whose history,
culture, and geography are not focused on in other courses
in any depth.
- Examine the core curricula for other social studies
courses and list those areas that are not significantly
taught; make a connection to them in grade 3.
7. Emphasize examples across time.
- Read newspapers and watch news programs.
- Identify those countries and regions that are focused
- Avoid studying world communities from a historic
perspective; place the emphasis on contemporary versus
8. Select communities on the basis of students' interests.
- Build upon prior knowledge/draw from their experiences.
Research the resources available.
1. What previous knowledge do you and/or your colleagues
have about the selected world communities?
- Find textbooks, guides, travel brochures, and other
materials based on courses you have taken, or filmed
programs you or other people you know attended or watched.
- Think about languages you have studied and places you
have visited or would like to visit.
- Inquire about the language and travel experiences of
- Borrow photographs, books, histories, and other
materials your colleagues might have pertaining to your
selected world communities.
2. What instructional materials are available to you?
- Read through a catalog of textbooks
and resources available from publishers.
- Attend a local, state, or national
social studies conference to get catalogs, material
samples, and instructional strategies directly from
publishers and exhibitors.
- Check your school or local library,
teacher center, and regional BOCES.
- Find activities, programs, and
organizations that exist in your school's city, town, or
village that focus on a world community (e.g., cultural
museums, educational programs, historic sites).
- Identify which multimedia, computer
software, and video/audio programming exist in your school
and which can be purchased or borrowed.
3. Are there sufficient professional development
opportunities to help you develop content expertise in your
selected world communities?
- Look for teacher center or local
college credit-bearing courses, education programs, summer
teacher institutes, study seminars, and programs abroad.
- See the New
York State Education Department Social Studies Leaders'
Guide: Prekindergarten - Grade
12 for assistance in planning and professional
development (coming soon to the social studies website).
Pace your curriculum.
1. How much time can be devoted to social studies each
2. How long will it take to study each world community
- Will you study one community, continent, or region per
month? Per marking period? Per quarter?
3. How can interdisciplinary connections be made to foster
the study of world communities in other curricula?
- Develop strategies to incorporate other subject areas
in the world community units.
4. What are strategies to avoid a narrow focus in the
classroom study of world communities?
- World communities should be explored from multiple
perspectives-not simply from the perspectives of holidays,
food, and stereotypes.
ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FROM THE NEW YORK
STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT:
Social Studies Instructional Strategies & Resources:
Prekindergarten Through Grade 6
- Online at
- Grade 3: pages 127-156.
- Sections: Focus Questions; Content Understandings;
Classroom Activities; Teacher Notes; Interdisciplinary
Connections; Suggested Documents and Other Resources
Selected by New York State Teachers; Using the Internet.
Sample Constructed-Response Questions (CRQs) and
Document-Based Questions (DBQs)
Sample Grade 3 Lesson Plans
- "Call for Content: Grade 3 Communities Around the
World" coming soon to the social studies Web site at
- Sample lesson plans based on this publication and on
Social Studies Instructional Strategies & Resources:
Prekindergarten Through Grade 6.
The following worksheet can be duplicated.
It summarizes the major factors to consider when selecting
world communities for study in the grade 3 classroom and
provides a space for you to plan how each factor relates to
the needs of your school and class.
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University of the State of New York | The State Education
Albany, New York 12234 |
www.nysed.gov | 2006