Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Department or Program Chair

Jordan Lieser, PhD

First Reader

Jordan Lieser, PhD


History teachers across the United States are constantly shaping the minds of their students, yet the historical content they teach is based on broad, national standards. Since the establishment of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) in 1994, a dynamic process of adaptation to standards has been credited to high school history teachers across the nation. Each teacher has a unique relationship with their class, which generate signature teaching objectives and prompt teachers to reexamine and adapt what parts of curriculum they choose to share with their students. Expectations, context, and experience all play into the relationship between secondary educators and their curriculum, each playing an equally important role in finding the correct selections of information to be taught. Through a classic historiographical analysis and a series of interviews with local high school United States history teachers in Petaluma, California, a clear picture of how these adaptations take place in the classroom is revealed. Ultimately, this paper concludes there are three categories of teacher curriculum adaptation: balance, injection, and reaction. Education professionals who analyze curriculum for balance show their readers how students might benefit by learning transnational history, or how cherry picking certain elements of historical content might have politically fueled ulterior motives. Other educators might inject their own elements into curriculum: this can be seen in many forms, including comparing global perceptions of United States history, incorporating music as historical artifact, or even integrating personal experiences into lesson plans. Finally, there are educators who use the previous standards to react on what they admire or see needs adapting. A reaction approach is more based on individual theory, which typically results in a more narrowly focused adaptation to standards.