Social Studies Standards - Geography Strand

The Maine Learning Results for Social Studies includes four separate strands. The Geography standard and all connected performance expectations specific to geography can be found in this document:

Maine Learning Results for Social Social - Geography (Revised 2019)

Resources to support teaching the Geography strand:

  • National Geographic Education has lesson plans, maps, and reference resources for classroom use.
    • Geo-Inquiry Process by National Geographic relies on using a geographic perspective, offering a unique lens to analyze space, place, and the interconnections between both the human and natural world.
  • The Arizona Geographic Alliance has a wide variety of resources to assist students with viewing the world around them with a geographic lens.
  • PBS Learning Media featuring geography based resources.
  • ArcGIS Geoinquiries uses maps and geographic information systems paired with an inquiry process to allow students to explore.
  • Library of Congress geography based resources and lesson plans.
  • Osher Map Library at the University of Southern Maine in Portland has a large collection of maps available to view online.
    • Map Play by the Osher Map Library features games based on maps.
  • The David Rumsey Map Collection at Stanford University includes over 90,000 historical maps sorted by category.
  • The Leventhal Map & Education Center at Boston Public Library features an educator section to support the use and teaching of their map collection.
  • Google Map Gallery features Google maps featuring a wide variety of topics from around the world.
  • American Geographical Society Library features a section of web-based resources for educators.
  • State of Maine ArcGIS Online has resources related to expanding and promoting the value of geographic spatial data through widespread distribution and innovative use.
  • More resources coming soon!


The introduction to the Maine Learning Results for Social Studies highlights some critical components to teaching geography in Maine:


The great architects of American public education, such as Thomas Jefferson, Horace Mann, and John Dewey, believed that every student must be well versed in our nation's history, the principles and practices which support and sustain citizenship, and the institutions that define our government. Understandings of commerce and geography were critical to their thinking as well. In essence, Jefferson, Mann, and Dewey viewed the study of social studies as critical to the mission of public schools. According to the National Council for the Social Studies: advocates of citizenship education cross the political spectrum, but they are bound by a common belief that our democratic republic will not sustain unless students are aware of their changing cultural and physical environments; know the past; read, write, and think deeply; and act in ways that promote the common good. (C3 Framework for Social Studies, 2013).

A strong Social Studies education depends upon a clear understanding of its interrelated disciplines and inclusion of Maine’s Guiding Principles. Without knowledge of the geography and economics of earlier times, history offers only lists of people, events, and dates. Without knowledge of history, the institutions of American government and the dynamics of today's global economy are difficult to understand. Although social studies curricula vary in their breadth and depth, the Social Studies Standards reflect a focus on government, history, geography, personal finance and economics as the pillars of the content, with other disciplines within the social sciences deemed important, but not essential.


Guiding Principles

The Guiding Principles guide education in Maine and should be reflected throughout Social Studies curriculum.  Examples of how students can show evidence of those guiding principles in Social Studies may include:

  1. Clear and Effective Communicator:  Students research and use background knowledge to give audiovisual presentations about current and historical issues.
  2. Self-Directed and Lifelong Learner:  Students generate questions and explore primary and secondary sources to answer those questions while demonstrating a growth mindset.
  3. Creative and Practical Problem Solver: Students draw conclusions about current and historical problems using valid research and critical thinking.
  4. Responsible and Involved Citizen: Students practice and apply the duties of citizenship through the exercise of constitutional rights
  5. Integrative and Informed Thinker: Students compare and contrast to analyze point of view and differentiate between reliable and unreliable primary and secondary sources.


Skills in Social Studies:

The application of skills in Social Studies is crucial to any curriculum. Best practices in Social Studies reflect curriculum, instruction, and assessment that give students opportunities to demonstrate research and develop positions on current Social Studies issues. Students will be asked to identify key words and concepts related to research questions and locate and access information by using text features. Additionally, students will demonstrate facility with note-taking, organizing information, and creating bibliographies. Students will distinguish between primary and secondary sources as well as evaluate and verify the credibility of the information found in print and non-print sources. Equally important is that students use additional sources to resolve contradictory information.


Major Enduring Themes - The term “major enduring themes” is used in several places in the Social Studies Standards. This term refers to general topics or issues that have been relevant over a long period of time. Using a consistent set of themes can serve as a framework within which other concepts, topics, and facts can be organized. It can also help students make connections between events within and across historical eras, and use history to help make informed decisions. The Civics and Government, Personal Finance and Economics, Geography, and History Standards all include performance expectations that address individual, cultural, international, and global connections. It will be up to the School Administrative Units to determine whether they use these performance expectations as an opportunity to integrate across the disciplines of the social studies or address them separately. The “enduring themes,” some of which overlap, include:

  • Freedom and Justice
  • Conflict and Compromise
  • Technology and Innovation
  • Unity and Diversity
  • Continuity and Change Over Time
  • Supply and Demand


Spiraling K-12 -  A course of study in which students will see the same topics throughout their school career, with each encounter increasing in complexity and reinforcing previous learning. The Social Studies Standards and performance expectations have been created in order to reflect a progression of increasing complexity from K-5 and between the 6-8, and 9-diploma grade spans.