In the primary grades, maps are useful tools to help the young reader put stories into perspective and develop a sense of place. Place and space are important in describing the setting of a book. Sometimes the author may not include a map, but the words convey a mental image that can easily be translated into a map—and even the illustrations could be used to teach geographic skills.
Adam Smith and his famous book The Wealth of Nations often make lists of things to know about the eighteenth century in economics and history classes. How can teachers explain his impact instead of making Smith just another factoid to memorize? Adam Smith was witness to and influenced by three major movements: the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution. Associate Smith’s economic thought with these larger events to make him memorable.
Most times a movement promotes a direct change in society. A revolution creates a volcanic chain reaction that leaves an indelible mark on the world.
The skills and content taught in science and social studies are often relegated to a secondary importance when compared to literacy and math. We can see this in how districts allocate funding and what states decide to test. However, while social studies skills are often taken for granted, the current political climate in the United States demands that we revisit, analyze, and update the skills that students will need not only to be successful in their future workplace but most importantly to be able to contribute to a healthy social dialogue as active citizens. We need to be able to have civil conversations about how we want to live together as a nation, what values we want to give priority to, and how we understand our past in order to promote a robust and healthy national future.
The history of America was built by many cultures and ethnic groups. American history encompasses a myriad of cultures, and during the month of February we get the opportunity to celebrate and put a spotlight on Black history and how a race of marginalized people continue to strive against the odds and work toward equality.
February is the month that many teachers typically introduce information about the sixteenth president, Abraham Lincoln. From his lessons on money to his famous Gettysburg Address and the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln is heralded as a great American hero. The question to consider is “How can one know the man who is so overwhelmingly portrayed by iconography (monuments and memorials)?”
Capitalism, socialism, and communism are three key concepts in social studies, with complex definitions and complicated histories. Explaining these concepts in the classroom is muddled even more by how these words are used in modern media. The meaning is often obscured by political alliances and deliberate attempts to mislead.
Writing has become an integral part of the social studies curriculum. Students need to know that this activity strengthens their reading skills as well as helps them to embrace the content more fluidly. When writing about specific historical events, oftentimes students must research their topic to gain factual knowledge. This is an important aspect to documenting and understanding historical events accurately.
Are you looking for a way to promote professional development for teachers in your district at a time when face-to-face meetings are becoming increasingly complicated, if not impossible?
January 2021 marks the fifth anniversary of the annual For-Teachers-by-Teachers Conference presented by our district, the Houston Independent School District. This conference allows the teachers who make up our secondary social studies teacher leader corps program the space and time to authentically exhibit their new learning content, instructional strategies, district instructional resources, and the skills needed to successfully create and execute professional development.