In chapter 9 of Teaching and Learning Elementary Social Studies, it continues the conversation of what social studies looks like in the 21st century classroom through giving your students the tools to become researchers. There are many types of research that a teacher can easily acquire from a student through simply asking about their family, where they live, and what is most important to them.
Last week, I gave a math lesson on area models to my fourth-grade class. They paid attention, listened, and seemed to understand the process; however, my teacher noted that I didn’t make the lesson applicable to them. Just as it says in the textbook, students learn best when projects relate to either contrived or real problems (230).
Additionally, chapter 4 touches base with the fact that any concept that is taught by a social studies instructor needs to tie in with a standard. Standards-based curriculum in the social sciences must connect with anthropology, economics, geography, history, sociology and/or political science. These topics are imperative for a successful social studies curriculum and can easily made into fun, memorable lessons for students to latch onto. My past social studies teachers have always been able to teach me the facts, figures, and events; however, they were also able to develop lessons that made an impact on my life.
Lastly in chapter 8 in Teaching and Learning Elementary Social Studies, the author talks about the importance of assessment. Although distasteful for most, assessment is a necessary evil that must happen for the sake of the students’ benefit, “when you think of how you should assess, think of how you should teach, how your students should learn, and keep the assessment procedures in line with experiences” (201). In my high school AP US History class, we took about 40 80-multiple-choice tests over the course of the year. Unfortunately, the number of tests in that class were necessary for proper assessment of the rigorous content, as it was preparation for the AP test at the end of the year; however, that wouldn’t be the same way a fourth-grade social studies teacher would assess. Teachers must be flexible in their ways of assessing students as every class is going to be different.
Overall, social studies in the elementary setting can be set on a spectrum for what lessons contain, where they’re aiming, and where they’re going on a continuum of curriculum. We can learn a lot from how students are developing their ways of becoming active researchers, historians, and citizens of the United States simply through their performance in a social studies setting.