A Brief History of Social Science R & D

A Brief History of Social Science R & D at MVPS

For five years, I have had the privilege of co-chairing the Social Science Research & Design Team at Mount Vernon with Head of Lower School Shelley Clifford. We have worked alongside the incredible teachers from Preschool through Upper School to create, iterate, and reimagine learning outcomes, as well as innovative instructional and assessment strategies. Here is a succinct outline of the highlights of our team’s efforts…

2011-2012
– Audit of current learning outcome practices
– Compare/contrast MVPS learning outcomes to Georgia Performance Standards
– Compare/contrast MVPS learning outcomes to Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and others (no common core for social studies)
– Creation of World Impact Curriculum
A Brief History of Social Science R & D at MVPS

2012-2013
– Read “Being Global”
– Applied to 3 components of the School’s mission statement (college ready, globally competitive, engaged citizen leader)
– Discussed utility and significance of our learning outcomes (and overall program)
– Teachers shared strategies for infusing “globally competitive” into all classes
A Brief History of Social Science R & D at MVPS Screen Shot 2015-09-08 A Brief History of Social Science R & D at MVPS 10.52.05 AM2013-2014
– Reimagined what R & D could and should be at a school
– Middle School created and implemented two themed courses (Freedom & Conflict)

A Brief History of Social Science R & D at MVPS 2014-2015
– Split PS/LS and MS/US
– MS/US focused on defining units (UbD), simplifying outcomes and attaching essential questions to each unit
– All MS classes are themed (Pioneer Course and Passport/Human Geography)
A Brief History of Social Science R & D at MVPS 2015-2016
– Stepping back from learning outcomes to clarify overall Social Studies philosophy at MVPS
– more TBD…


There are 4 over-arching goals or purposes for All R & D Teams at MVPS…

  • Foster a deeper, shared understanding and continued iteration of learning outcomes
  • Design and curate demonstrations of learning and evidence of understanding
  • Explore paths of implementation within respective discipline and make connections across disciplines
  • Utilize the Design Principles & Practice (Learning Essentials) from MV Continuum

2 Replies to “A Brief History of Social Science R & D”

  1. Chip, this blog post is a great snap shot of the work that has gone into R&D work, especially the learning outcomes project, at Mount Vernon. From building each learning outcome to zooming out to philosophical discussions, the learning and growth we have experienced together has been challenging and rewarding, frustrating and enlightening. I am proud of our work and honored that I am able to co-lead with you. Thank you!

  2. Very nice recap of the past few years. I have one word that describes the work we have done – invigorating. I was inspired to changed fifth grade social studies from U.S. History to World Geography and now to World Geography / Our Local and Global Community. I am grateful for your leadership and to the school for supporting my quest to learn more about innovation in social studies and humane education. I am I’m also happy to see what we are now doing with R & D – clarifying our philosophy. Talk about zooming out! It is very important.

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