This text presents a methodology that offers every child a chance to succeed regardless of language, culture, intellectual ability, physical attributes, emotional capabilities, or social skills. Teaching Elementary Social Studies encourages teachers to recognize that each child is unique and brings a special set of skills and abilities to the classroom. The unifying theme of the text is diversity, and the author introduces several dimensions beyond the pluralistic nature of the student population. It promotes the idea that diverse students require a diverse pedagogy and offers specific ways to introduce meaningful topics in ways that will engage all students. Provides a foundation for teaching social studies. Informs pre-service teachers about the national standards documents that dictate curriculum planning for social studies. Introduces students to Expectations for Excellence: Curriculum Standards for the Social Studies, National Standards for Civics and Government, National Content Standards in Economics, Geography for Life, and National Standards for History. Addresses the fundamentals of teaching social studies. Provides instruction for creating lessons based on MI>inquiry and student interaction. Advocates the need for social studies lessons that infuse multicultural perspectives. Each lesson, mini-lesson, group project, or unit concludes with a section on “Effective Teaching in Today's Diverse Classroom”. Includes descriptions of activities, group projects, lessons and mini-lessons to model good social studies instruction. Includes numerous examples of multicultural literature. Samples lessons, mini-lessons, projects, and activities all reference multicultural and historical literature, and Internet websites teachers can access to enrich social studies teaching and learning. Promotes good citizenship as a goal of social studies.
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The second edition of Teaching Elementary Social Studies: Principles and Applications reflects a national trend toward "standards-based" curricula and the ever increasing importance of computer-based resources in teaching and learning. Specifically, the most significant new features are the following:
The conceptual framework for the book is unchanged. The field of social studies, has a rich history. Driven by the dynamic nature of human society, social studies has evolved into a lively and challenging pursuit, drawing concepts and ideas from history, geography, political science, economics, sociology, and anthropology. Thus, the possibilities to create meaningful, engaging, and stimulating experiences in social studies are endless. The dilemma for many educators, however, has been how to teach such a vast and expanding bed of knowledge.
Fortunately, researchers in education, psychology, and linguistics provide some answers. How we teach should be dictated by how children learn, and research tells us that children learn best when teachers do the following:
It is from these perspectives that I have revised the second edition of this text. Part I (chapters 1 to 3) defines social studies and identifies the historic principles behind constructivist teaching and learning. Chapter 2 describes the students you will teach, with special emphasis on language and culture. Chapter 3 explains how teachers can transform the social studies curriculum to reflect a multicultural perspective. Part II (chapters 4 to 10) presents the fundamentals of social studies teaching. Its focus is how to plan lessons and units that include many opportunities for students to work cooperatively, engage in inquiry, and think critically. Chapter 7 is new and examines teaching with computer-based resources. Chapter 8 addresses how to assess each child's performance in social studies in a standards-based curriculum, and chapter 9 discusses how teachers can integrate the social studies curriculum. Part III (chapters 11 to 13) highlights the sources of content for the social studies curriculum, especially citizenship education, history, and geography. Within this organizational framework is an underlying theme—diversity.
Diversity: The Unifying Theme for This Text
As in the first edition, diversity will be the unifying theme for this text. It is impossible to discuss social studies teaching and learning after September 11, 2001, without some acknowledgment of how the tragic events of that day have changed our views about the world and our greater need to understand the diversity of its people. Teachers now face two extraordinary challenges. They must teach about those values that unite us, while at the same time helping students accept disparate perspectives. Teachers must help their students better understand different cultures and also help students avoid stereotypical and biased views of other people. These challenges, it seems, reinforce the power of a text based on understanding diversity.
Diversity has several dimensions. First, our student population continues to be increasingly pluralistic. The results of the 2000 census confirmed a trend that has been constant for the past four decades. The percentage of Americans who identify themselves as "white" is steadily decreasing as the percentage who are either African American, Asian American, or Hispanic American is steadily on the rise. In 2000, the non-Hispanic, white population was 69% of the total; projections are that this percentage will shrink to 52% by 2050. African American, Asian American, and Hispanic American students currently represent over one-third of the K-12 population. They already are the majority in the nation's 25 largest school districts.
Second, our teaching should use a variety of instructional strategies and resources to meet the needs of students from various cultural backgrounds and experiences. Third, the content of the social studies curriculum should be diverse because social studies is the study of people, and the curriculum should introduce our students to a wide array of individuals and groups. Finally, teachers need to prepare students to live in a democracy where citizens celebrate divergent beliefs and perspectives, no matter how great the pressure is to adhere to a single point of view. Diversity is a theme that unifies social studies teaching and learning: we must acknowledge it in our students, present it as our curriculum, and build on it as a civic value.
To accomplish these goals, we need to infuse our lessons with pluralistic, multidimensional resources. For example, children's literature provides authentic accounts of the experiences of people from many cultural heritages. Of particular note are books that share diaries, journals, and oral histories of people who are "distant," either by time or place, from our students. The authentic nature of this literature helps children better understand the difficult decisions other people have made. Many lessons presented in this book model how to incorporate children's literature in the social studies curriculum. At the end of each of these lessons—and the projects and activities provided—are ideas for providing additional multicultural experiences. In addition, the supplementary reference section of this text is a bank of children's literature that can be used to develop elementary social studies lessons.
Visual media and computer resources also are essential resources for a classroom with a diverse student population. This text illustrates the use of videos, CD-ROMs, and Internet Web sites. The Internet, if used wisely, will change the nature of social studies teaching and have immense potential, especially as a resource that will help students as they engage in the process of inquiry. Finally, the visual and performing arts should play prominent roles in elementary social studies. Applying a variety of instructional strategies and resources will increase the chances that every child in your room will be successful and be better prepared for a productive life in the 21st century.
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