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​Social Studies ​Concepts and Descriptions

Each Concept is linked to a graphic that explains it and a short example video.


History Concepts


Balance: When power is equal on both sides.

Example Video

Change:To make or become different. 

Example Video

Civilization: Organized: Urban Development, Political & Social Structure, Control of the Natural Environment: a Complex Society.

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Colonialism: The policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers and exploiting it economically.

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Conflict: A disagreement, sometimes un-reconcilable, that may lead to aggressive military behavior.

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Conquest: The subjugation and assumption of control of a place or people by use of military force.

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Consequence: The intended or unintended result of an action or decision.

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Continuity: An uninterrupted, consistent operation.

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Era: A long and distinct period of history with a particular feature or characteristic.

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Escalation: An increase in the intensity or seriousness of a situation leading to a larger crisis.

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Exploration: The action of traveling in or through an unfamiliar area in order to learn about it.

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Identity: The values, culture and traditions that an individual or group of people identify with.

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Independence: The fact or state of being independent.

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Innovation: Innovation is the act of improving something or creating something that is a new technology.

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Imperialism: The policy of extending a nation's power and influence through diplomacy or military force.

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Industrialization: Process of transforming an economy based on individual craftsman into automated assembly line factories.

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Invention: The action of inventing something, typically a process or device

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Leadership: To be responsible for guiding a group of people or nation.

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Migration: When people or animals move from one place to another.

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Militarism: Policy of glorifying military power and being prepared for war.

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Nationalism: A sentiment or sense of belonging or pride in your country

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Origins: The point or place where something begins, arises, or is derived.

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Patterns: A series of actions or behaviors that are consistent.

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Progressivism: Political philosophy based on social reform through advancements in science, technology, economic development and social organization.

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Revolution: The forceable overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system.

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Sectionalism: Narrowing your interest to more local/state/regional issues- disregarding the overall good of the state or nation.

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Self-Interest: Making decisions based on what is the most advantageous for the individual or group of people.

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Time: a unit of measurement such as years, decades or centuries that help historians chronologically place history into eras and can use markers such as AD & BC  or BCE & CE.

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Total War: Policy of using all of a nation's resources including control of the economy to win a war.

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Totalitarianism: Government control of all aspects of public and private life.

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War: A conflict that results in military action between groups or nations.

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Government Concepts

Authority: The power or right to give orders, makes decisions and enforce obedience.

Example Video

Checks & Balances: Political system where the branches of government can check the power of one another making the branches equal.

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Communism: A way of organizing society in which the government owns the means of production and there is no private property.

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Democratization: The transition to a government that includes more of the people.

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Domestic & Foreign Policy: Policy issues characterized by whether they are inside or outside of a nation.

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Empire: An extensive group of states or countries controlled by a supreme, central authority.

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Fascism: Political philosophy that exalts nation and often race above the individual and is led by an authoritarian government.

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Government Systems: The institutions or systems which make up the government of a nation.
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Nation-State: Nation: Homogeneous group of people (of the same nationality) State: Political organization that has sovereignty (makes their own decisions with no higher authority to answer to).

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​Republic: ​A state where power is held by the people. Representatives are elected by the people and held accountable through elections.  A president is also elected as opposed to a hereditary monarch.

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Socialism: A way of organizing society where the government owns part of the means of production and directs the economy.

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Economic Concepts

Budget, Surplus, Deficit:

Budget: An estimation of revenues and expenses over a specified period of time.
Surplus: When revenues exceed expenses over s specified period of time.
Deficit: When expenses exceed revenues over a specified period of time.

Example Video


Depression, Recession, Recovery:

Depression: A long term, severe, economic downturn.
Recession: Significant decline in economic activity lasting for several months
Recovery: Follows a Recession, economy economic activity returns to levels prior to Recession

Example Video


Inflation: A general increase in prices and decrease in the purchasing power of money.

Deflation: A general decrease in prices caused by a decrease in the supply of money.

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Markets: Any structure that allows buyers and sellers to exchange any type of goods, services or information for money.
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Supply & Demand: Supply- Quantity of a resource available, Demand- How great the need for the resource= Value.

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Trade: The transferring of goods in exchange for something of value. Ex. Money

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Geography Concepts

City-State-Country: City: a relatively permanent and highly organized population of people. State: a subdivision of a country. Country: a political state or nation.

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Isolation: To have little or no contact with other peoples.

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Natural Resources: Materials or substances that occur in nature and can be used for economic gain.

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Region: A large area that is a part or division of something larger

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Urban/Rural: Urban: Referring to a town or city, Rural: Outside a town or city “In the country”

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Value: The importance, worth or usefulness of something.

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Culture Concepts

Culture: Traditions, customs or way of life of a community.

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Religion: A system of beliefs, symbols and rituals, that guide human behavior, gives meaning to life and unites believers into a community.

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Social Systems: A people in a society organized by a characteristic of behaviors.

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Tolerance: The ability to live with beliefs or behaviors that one does not agree with.

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Values & Beliefs: Shared beliefs about what is good-bad, right-wrong, or desirable-undesirable / Specific statements that people hold to be true.

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Global Connections Concepts

Alliance: An agreement between two or more parties to advance common goals or interests.

Example Video

Climate Change:


Communication:


Complexity: The state or quality of being intricate or complicated.
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Cooperation: The process of working together to achieve a common outcome.
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Crisis: A time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger.

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Diffusion: When culture, goods or ideas are mixed together and can result in blending and innovation.

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Genocide: The deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group.
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Global Economy:


Human Rights: Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more. 

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International Law: A body of rules established by custom or treaty and recognized by nations as binding in their relations with one another.

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Interdependence: A relationship where each person or group of people is dependent on another person or group.

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Invasion: The act of attacking a country or region with an armed force.
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Peace: The absence of conflict or war.

Example Video


System: 


​Terrorism: the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

Example Video

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Teaching With Concepts

     Every History topic is centered around a few concepts. When students learn and understand History Concepts they are able apply those concepts to other topics and develop a deeper understanding of why historical events happened


Topics Vs. Concepts​

Topic: Is a specific event, era or subject in history.
Concept: is something that is timeless and transferable.
-Not specific to any particular topic                                                          -Can be applied to many different topics or subjects

Concept Based Learning

Social Studies Concept Based Learning