Contemporary literature gives readers a look at progressive writing styles that often reflect the world in which the works were written. Although often reserved for English or writing courses, recent novels can also be used in secondary social studies classrooms to teach about current events, political themes, economics, sociology, or even history.
Etymology, the study of the origin of words and how the meanings of words change over time, is just as relevant in social studies as it is in English classes. When words appear in a language, how words evolve and change, and when words are discarded tell a wider social, political, economic, or cultural story. For students learning social studies, the benefits of learning these words can be immense, and serve to build essential skills.
Cartoons can sometimes make a serious point. Benjamin Franklin’s 1754 “Join or Die” began the use of political cartoons. These visuals have been important in history by informing illiterate citizens and conveying a point of view on a political issue. Cartoonists, with a single picture, could insult enemies, celebrate allies, change people’s minds on important issues, and be humorous enough to make an impact on the public’s view. Political cartoons bring humor and exaggeration to past and current issues. I tell my students political cartoons are pictures with a point. We can provide students with the tools and questions they can use to decode and understand political cartoons.
To quote one of my previous graduate school professors, "education is simply made up of alphabet soup."
The times in which we are living are truly odd and unprecedented. Actually, there are a lot of words that people use to describe this time. I’ve heard scary, crazy, stressful, and boring, just to name a few. Some people have used this time to improve themselves by working out or trying new hobbies. Others are worried or stressed about their job security and family's wellbeing. But, one thing I think we can agree upon is that this is a time to come together and revel in comfort and support.
Quacks love health crises, and the COVID-19 virus has become very lucrative for people who make claims about unscientific cures. In recent months, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued warnings to several companies who are promoting fraudulent products. These companies deceptively claim their products can treat or cure the virus. Modern teas, oils, and other treatments are not scientifically proven to be effective, yet customers are desperate enough to fall for these “curative” products. This isn't to say holistic and alternative medicines do not have healing properties for some, but overall the efficacy of these products and practices is largely unproven by evidence-based research.
An impactful memoir has long-lasting effects on its reader. For high school students, a real story about the struggles of humanity and strength of the human spirit helps them connect with history and see the world from a different perspective.
The United States has been involved in trade wars with nations around the world in recent years. Instead of weapons, these “wars” are waged with tariffs, taxes on imported or exported goods.
Where do you find elementary school historians? The answer can be right in your digital classroom!
Classic literature is often reserved for English or Writing courses, but in secondary social studies classrooms, historical novels written about specific eras and themes can have as much merit as a traditional textbook. Teachers can use the following examples as a guide to teach their students social studies themes, including politics, government, sociology, and various historical eras.