Young learners need meaningful digital learning experiences that can help them navigate websites safely and appropriately and set a foundation for the rest of their academic career. Create this engaging experience with a web quest that helps students to identify primary and secondary sources.
Agency is a key concept in social studies, but students often misunderstand or struggle with the term. A simple definition for agency is “the amount of control an individual has over decisions or actions in life.” While we often assume we have lots of agency, social structures such as religion, family, laws, the economy, or social class work to limit the power of individuals. It may be helpful to illustrate the concepts of agency and social structure on opposite ends of a continuum. Follow up with scenarios or examples to demonstrating how one’s power can be difficult to categorize.
When I taught first grade, a small grant allowed me to get funding to buy a hot plate, griddle, measuring utensils, pots, knives, bowls, cutting boards, and other necessities to introduce my students to flavors and aromas unknown to their senses. However, we not only ate the food but also used the food for tactile learning experiences and learning social studies content. It was a unique teaching experience for me and allowed my students to compare and contrast various cultures through food.
Why am I here? Where do I come from? Who am I? Questions like these are answered in part through stories handed from one generation to another. Civilizations from the past tried to explain the changing of seasons, objects in the sky, and the facts of life and death through the natural environment in which they lived. Ancient Chinese, for example, believed that daylight was provided by one of ten sunbirds taking its turn across the sky, while Ancient Egyptians imagined that a giant beetle pushed the round sun across the heavens.
What are some best practices in social studies that teachers can apply to the classroom this upcoming school year?
There is a direct relationship between culture and folktales. The tales reflect the everyday life of a people. Creole and Cajun tales have been passed down orally for many generations, but some have been collected and published. Both Cajun and Creole people in Louisiana have stories which can be used in the classroom to develop an awareness and understanding of their respective cultures.
May marks Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which is a time to celebrate the specific achievements made by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders throughout history.
Cowboys are found in many countries around the world. In Chile, they are called huasos, in Argentina gauchos, in Australia jackeroos, and in Venezuela llaneros. The original cowboys in North America were Spanish and were called vaqueros. They were very skilled in driving and handling the long-horned cattle that they introduced to on the continent in the seventeenth century. As with the black cowboys, Mexican cowboys also faced discrimination, earning less pay and being prevented from advancing to foreman or trail boss.
While their urban counterparts were restricted to more traditional female roles in the late 1800’s, women of the American West were roping and riding broncs. The term “cowgirl” first appeared in print by the early 1890s. Daughters of pioneer ranchers grew up riding and roping along with their brothers because on small ranches, everyone helped with the cattle. Attitudes of the day deemed it improper for a woman to dress and ride like a man, so many women wore full skirts and rode sidesaddle. During the Wild West shows, women first appeared as competitors with women like sharpshooter Annie Oakley, bronc rider Bertha Blancett, and steer-roper Mabel Strickland.
Dime-store novels and Wild West television shows helped construct the stereotypical images of the “white” cowboy and the red-skinned Indian “savages.” As the West was often portrayed as a battlefield between these two groups, it may be difficult for students to understand that so-called Indians were often also cowboys. However, this narrative of the Wild West is incomplete, and teachers can easily rectify this by teaching about the indigenous experience during this westward expansion period. Early Spanish missionaries actually trained Native Americans as cattle herders, leading many indigenous peoples to adopt ranching into their economies.