A pedagogical shift towards teaching social studies in conjunction with other subjects, and not as an isolated topic, has slowly emerged on the horizon in public schools for the last five years. In some states, standardized state tests in social studies have been discontinued for students in 6th and 7th grades because they are considered non-essential. Teachers continue to ask why social studies content is being pushed aside for language arts, math, and other STEM-based curricula. Social studies, especially at the secondary level, is a disappearing and often thought of as less important curriculum, but it doesn’t have to be.
We want our classrooms to be utopian communities, ideal worlds of cooperation and happiness. Classroom-management experts describe strategies to achieve that dream, but their advice falls across a continuum with the top-down, teacher-in-charge approach at one end and the bottom-up, students-create-the-rules at the other. Which approach is best?
According to recent surveys, at least 55% of classroom teachers have one or more English Language Learners (ELLs) in their classroom. ELLs arrive in our classrooms with varying levels of the four domains of English (listening, reading, writing, and speaking) for conversational and academic purposes. As a social studies teacher, how can you help an ELL student make sense of the advanced vocabulary and sentence structures that come along with academic instruction? One proven strategy is to build or activate background knowledge BEFORE starting the unit.
History is rarely at the top of polls of “favorite subjects in school.” While a magical cure for history aversion has yet to be discovered, the following three tips for connecting the past to the present can make history lessons more relevant to students’ lives.
As teachers, we all want a way to make history a fun and engaging subject for our students. We want them to grasp the historical events that we teach about with the same passion that we have when we are planning the lessons. As educators, we want them to hear all the amazing stories from the past that will help them understand their role in the world they live in today.
Think back to when you were a young child, trying to connect the numbered or letter dots to figure out what the mystery image would be. You would carefully plot where the next line would go so the picture would come out just right. Using essential questions is very much like that dot puzzle, trying to figure out what the major piece of the mystery concept is. As teachers, our job is to help develop questioning skills in our students so they can successfully uncover the hidden picture, to help them develop the skills of inquiry to fit all the pieces of the lesson together.
How often do you step away from your social studies curriculum to get to know your students? Once a week? Once a month? Do you ever make specific plans or set aside specific time in your lessons to build meaningful, appropriate relationships with your kids?
Etiquette comprises rules to follow and manners expected of a person in social or professional situations. Today, the components of etiquette have been rebranded as “soft skills,” the behaviors that help people work well with others.
For my first permanent teaching position, I was lucky enough to fill a history position at a small K-8 school in a rural community. I say lucky for several reasons.
Young children understand stories and love to have books read to them often to the point that they memorize and can recite a favorite story from memory. Narratives establish supportive conditions in the brain for learning and remembering (McTighe and Willis, 2019). As young learners brains develop, their imaginations also run wild, and they love to pretend. Combining these two elements, the role-play with the narrative, is the basis for the Storypath learning method.