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Methods & Content of Teaching Social Studies

The Elementary Certificate 110 resources are designed to aid the elementary teacher candidate in their preparation for state certification (certificate #110).

How to read the standards: First letters indicate social science, second letters indicate the specific field, last two numbers/letters indicate the number of the standard and grade level. For example: SS.C.1.K can be read as Social Science, Civics, Standard 1 for Kindergarten. 

  • Civics Standards for grades K-5 (see tab) 
    Understand political systems, with an emphasis on the United States
  • Economics and Financial Literacy Standards for grades K-5 (see tab)
    Economic decision making; exchange and markets; national and global economy; and financial literacy
  • Geography Standards for grades K-5 (see tab)
    Geographic representations; human-environmental interaction; human population; and global interconnections
  • History Standards for grades K-5 (see tab)
    Change, continuity, and context; perspectives; historical sources and evidence; and causation and argumentation

The Secondary Certificate 114 resources have two objectives: 

  1. To help secondary education candidates prepare for the Illinois Teacher Certification Test, and 
  2. To provide teaching resources for candidates who take teaching positions in the state and may be asked to teach Illinois history and government.


  • ISBE Social Science-History Standards (see tab)

These define what the competent social science teacher in Illinois understands and is able to do. Questions on the teacher certification test will be based on these standards. 

The teacher candidate may use any or all of several optional approaches to learning about Illinois history and government. They are:

  • Internet Resources (see tab)

The sites listed under the Internet Resources tab have a wealth of information and are generally kept up to date. This is probably the best source of information since a number of sites can be accessed. 

  • Illinois Government Handbook

This free book is issued by the Illinois Secretary of State and contains a great deal of information in print form. While this booklet is informative, it does not meet all the standards of the ISBE. Illinois Government Handbook

ISBE Social Science - History Standards

These define what the competent social science teacher in Illinois understands and is able to do. Questions on the teacher certification test will be based on these standards.

The common core of Social Science Standards on which the state certification test is based are found at the following web sites: Social Science Core and History

  • Social Science Standard 6* 

The competent social science teacher understands the principles of constitutional government in Illinois.

Indicators - The competent social science teacher:

6A. understands the historical development of Illinois constitutional government.
6D. analyzes the fundamental principles (e.g., separation of powers, checks and balances, individual rights, and federalism) that led to the development of democratic government in Illinois.

  • Social Science Standard 8 

The competent social science teacher understands the rule of law and the rights and responsibilities of individual citizens in a democratic society, with an emphasis on the United States and Illinois.

Indicators - The competent social science teacher:

8A. understands the sources, purposes, and functions of law (e.g., basic legal rights and responsibilities).
8D. understands the role of responsible citizenship.
8E. evaluates the rights and responsibilities of the individual in relation to his or her family, social groups, community, and nation.
8G. examines the implications of responsible citizenship (e.g., decision-making, volunteerism, and voting).

  • Social Science Standard 18

The competent social science teacher understands major political developments and compares patterns of continuity and change in the State of Illinois.

Indicators - The competent social science teacher:

18C. understands the development of political institutions in Illinois.
18G. describes the development of government in Illinois.

  • Social Science Standard 19

The competent social science teacher understands major social and cultural developments and compares patterns of continuity and change in the State of Illinois.

Indicators - The competent social science teacher:

19B. understands the importance of family and local history and their relation to the larger context of American development.
19D. analyzes migration patterns and movement of people to and within Illinois.

  • Social Science Standard 20 

The competent social science teacher understands the major scientific, geographic, and economic developments and compares patterns of continuity and change in the State of Illinois.

Indicators - The competent social science teacher:

20A. understands the development of the Illinois economy, including the agricultural, industrial, and service sectors.
20B. understands the relationship between geography and economic developments.
20C. describes the impact of technological change and urbanization in Illinois.
20D. describes the changing role of labor in Illinois.
20E. describes the development and impact of capitalism in Illinois.

  • History Standard 6* 

The competent history teacher understands major trends, key turning points, and the roles of influential individuals and groups in the State of Illinois from the colonial era to the present.

Indicators - The competent history teacher:

6A. understands the evolution of political ideas, institutions, and practices and their role in Illinois.
6B. understands the influence of geography, technology, agriculture, urbanization, industry, and labor on the development of the Illinois economy.
6C. understands the effects of migration of people and cultures and several religious traditions that have shaped Illinois.
6D. understands the roles of family and local history in their relation to the larger context of U.S. and global history.
6E. describes the development of political ideas, institutions, and practices in Illinois.
6F. traces development of the Illinois economy.
6G. assesses the impact of cultural migration and religious traditions on Illinois.
6H. relates Illinois family and local history to U.S. and world history.

*You will notice similarity between the social science and history standards and indicators. This is due to the fact that Illinois history and government are assessed in both parts of the certification test.

General Illinois History and Government

The following sites are optional for anyone preparing for the certification test. However, they are helpful in planning lessons on Illinois history and government and for student research.

State of Illinois Official Web Site:

Aspects of Illinois government including biographies of executive branch officers, how to contact state Senators and Representatives, Illinois statutes, information on local governments, etc. 

Illinois Historic Preservation Agency (HPA) 
Illinois Gallery contains a large number of photographs grouped in categories. There is a limited selection of on-line videos. You can access selected articles from Illinois History magazine. Visit Illinois puts you in touch with 22 historic sites in the state. You can study the papers of Abraham Lincoln. Under Additional Resources, you can access the history fair site and the Illinois History Teacher magazine.

Illinois History Resource Page
This site contains a very large number of links to sites relevant to Illinois History and Government.

Illinois Geography
This site has a wealth of knowledge about Illinois geography.

Civic Standards for K-5 (2015), related to Illinois

Civic and Political Institutions 

  • SS.CV.1.K. Describe roles and responsibilities of some people in authority.
  • SS.CV.1.2. Explain what governments are and some of their functions (e.g., making and enforcing laws, protecting citizens, and collecting taxes).
  • SS.CV.1.3. Describe ways in which interactions among families, workplaces voluntary organizations, and government benefit communities. 
  • SS.CV.2.3. Explain how groups of people make rules to create responsibilities and protect freedoms.
  • SS.CV.1.5. Distinguish the responsibilities and powers of government officials at various levels and branches of government and in different times and places. 
  • SS.CV.3.5. Compare the origins, functions, and structure of different systems of government.

Participation and Deliberation: Applying Civic Virtues and Democratic Processes

  • SS.CV.3.3. Compare procedures for making decisions in the classroom, school, and community. 
  • SS.CV.3.4. Identify core civic virtues (such as honesty, mutual respect, cooperation, and attentiveness to multiple perspectives) and democratic principles (such as equality, freedom, liberty, respect for individual rights) that guide our state and nation. 

Processes, Rules, and Laws

  • SS.CV.4.4. Explain how rules and laws change society and how people change rules and laws in Illinois. 
  • SS.CV.4.5. Explain how policies are developed to address public problems. 

Internet Resources & Links

Recommended sites for Certification Test Preparation - Elementary Education Subject Matter

  • Diagram of how a bill becomes a law (PDF)
    This site provides a very detailed chart of the law making process in Illinois. The chart is well organized and worth careful study – a picture is worth at least a thousand words. 
  • Legislative branch organizational chart (PDF)
    This site provides a basic chart on the organization of the Legislative Branch of government in Illinois. Note the size of each house. The site also gives a brief description of member eligibility as well as legislative functions, powers, organization, composition, and the legislative cycle. This may be more information than you need, but it is very clearly and concisely stated. 
  • Three branches of Illinois and federal government chart & explanation (PDF) 
  • Illinois’ capitols: This site describes the various state capitols Illinois has had. 


Illinois Handbook of Government 

This regularly updated publication is available as a downloadable pdf from the IL Secretary of State and as a booklet (call 217-785-8234). This will help you become familiar with the basic organization of Illinois government, who presently holds the six elected executive offices, the state budget, Illinois at a Glance, and Illinois State Capitols. Under the legislative, executive, and judicial branches there are organizational charts and some basic information. Finally, study the History and Highlights of the Illinois State Constitution and glance through the Illinois Constitution, noting unique characteristics such as certain rights, retention of judges, home rule, education, etc.

Note for teaching: this booklet is available from the state free of charge. It is published by the Secretary of State’s office and can be downloaded or a class set ordered by calling the phone number above.

Economics and Financial Literacy Standards for K-5 (2015), related to state (Illinois) or local communities

Economic Decision Making 

None apply to Illinois

Exchange and Markets

  • SS.EC.3.2. Compare the goods and services that people in the local community produce and those that are produced in other communities.
  • SS.EC.2.3. Generate examples of the goods and services that governments provide. 

The National and Global Economy

None apply to Illinois

Financial Literacy

  • SS.EC.FL.1.1. Explain how people can earn pay or income in exchange for work. 
  • SS.EC.FL.2.4. Explain that income can be saved, spent on goods and services, or used to pay taxes.  

Internet Resources & Links

Social Studies Help Center- Economics
There are class notes, numerous Supreme Court case summaries and information on how to write a research paper inside.

The Economy of Illinois
Key facts, figures, industries, and economic indicators are available here. 

Illinois Economy
This is a fairly general and compact site featuring the economy, energy, and transportation in Illinois.

Geography Standards, K-5 (2015), related to Illinois 

Geographic Representations: Spatial Views of the World

  • SS.G.1.4. Construct and interpret maps of our state and nation using various media.

Human-Environment Interaction: Place, Regions, and Culture

  • SS.G.2.2. Identify some cultural and environmental characteristics of your community and compare to other places. 
  • SS.G.2.4. Analyze how the cultural and environmental characteristics of places in Illinois change over time.  

Human Population: Spatial Patterns and Movement

  • SS.G.3.2. Explain how people in your community use local and distant environments to meet their daily needs. 
  • SS.G.3.4. Describe some of the current movements of goods, people, jobs, or information to, from or within Illinois, and explain reasons for the movements.  

Global Interconnections: Changing Spatial Patterns

  • SS.G.3.3. Show how the consumption of products [in IL] connects people to distant places. 

Internet Resources & Links  

Illinois Environment and Natural Resources includes this section on Environment & Weather, Plants, Wildlife & Other Natural Resources, and Earth Science. 

Illinois State Geological Survey
Sponsored by the Prairie Research Institute, this site contains significant current and past geographical information on Illinois.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources 
A drop down menu includes resources for Outreach/Education.

Illinois Ag in the Classroom 
Many terrific teacher resources related to agriculture in Illinois are readily available here and through the local Ag in the Classroom office at the DuPage County Farm Bureau at 245 S. Gary Avenue (intersection of St. Charles Road) in Carol Stream.

Illinois Agriculture Statistic Service (From the USDA)
Downloadable PDFs are available for county maps and the production of corn, soybeans, sorghum, oats, and wheat in Illinois for each year.

Illinois Geography
The geography of Illinois is presented in a coherent manner with definitions, links, and descriptions.

History Standards, K-5 (2015) related to Illinois

Change, Continuity, and Context 

  • SS.H.1.2. Summarize changes that have occurred in the local community over time. 
  • SS.H.1.3. Describe how significant people, events, and developments have shaped their own community and region. 


  • SS.H.2.1. Compare perspectives of people in the past to those of people in the present.  

Historical Sources and Evidence

  • SS.H.2.4. Using artifacts and primary sources, investigate how individuals contributed to the founding and development of Illinois.

Causation and Argument

  • SS.H.3.4. Explain probably causes and effects of events and developments in Illinois history.  

Internet Resources & Links

Recommended sites for Certification Test Preparation - Elementary Education Subject Matter

E-Books related to Illinois 
Primary sources are available that give insight to Illinois' early settlement. For example, look up Morris Birkbeck and read his letters from Illinois in 1818 explaining why he came and what conditions he faced as he settled here. This collection can be accessed in many ways, including a search by author. 

Encyclopedia of Chicago 
This is an extensive source for the history of Chicago and its relationship to the rest of the state. The user's guide may be helpful in getting started. All entries are listed in alphabetical order and include entries, historical sources, maps, and special features.

State of Illinois History 
This state site focuses on the history and culture of Illinois. It included links to specific historic sites, libraries, museums, archives, and an Illinois Historical Timeline that has not been updated since 2005.

At Home in the Heartland
Six different eras in Illinois are featured. Time lines, maps, people, artifacts, clues to the past, and teacher resources are included for each era. The organization makes access easier. 

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