Integrated Social Studies Learning
Integrated learning is a creative way to engage students in academic life. There is a great variety of subjects that can be studied with the help of this technique. For example, students can learn history through different engaging activities. Nevertheless, this method has its benefits and downfalls.
To start with, teachers can teach history in the format of living museum, which has proved to be very successful. Thus, each student often dressed with an appropriate hat or costume, memorizes a speech to be recited in the first person. The main disadvantage of this method is that some children are afraid of public speaking. That is the reason why it would take some time to persuade them to participate in such activity. Another interesting approach to history learning is to organize a National History Day celebration. Each year a different theme is chosen, and students can respond in a variety of formats to present their historical investigations in a written paper, exhibits, performances, and documentaries. This activity is also quite engaging and useful.
In fact, many students also enjoy learning history, while collecting oral histories. Oral history is a living persons recollections about his or her past and events, which they have personally experienced. This method is also widely used by many historians. Historians obtain oral data not only from famous or powerful people, but also from members of a given community, such as an Indian pueblo. However, this method is more appropriate for older students. Sometimes creating an oral history requires visiting particular communities or, for example, Indian reservations.
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Nevertheless, younger students can collect oral history from their grandparents. They can also create family histories. Many teachers use units on immigration, urban life, or other topics that actually depend on students family histories for part of their content. As a matter of fact, some children are not brave enough to approach their relatives and ask them diverse questions. That is why practicing and modeling interviews in the classroom helps to reduce anxiety about interviewing. Students can also use modern technological devices to make the presentations. For instance, students interview two members of their families, collect some images, and put together a three minute film. Nevertheless, this method requires prior knowledge of certain programs that can help to develop such presentations.
Overall, integrated social studies are quite engaging. Students can learn history by participating in National History Day, creating oral history or visiting museums. These skills are extremely important. Indeed, skills application occurs when students are engaged in the text, discussion, and research of a topic or issue that is interesting, motivating, or controversial. However, the main problem is that some students are not willing to speak up in front of their classmates, and there are also activities require prior knowledge. Accordingly, teachers should choose an effective strategy to engage students.
Textbook Social Studies Learning
Books are extremely important for learning social studies. The textbook remains an important part of most social studies classrooms as it guides student learning articulated by state frameworks and standards. For example, geography or history can always be effectively studied with the help of various written materials. Books are usually more people-centered than text material and can give fresh insight into the ways of life in our culture-past and present-as well as cultures of other places and times. Nevertheless, they also have some advantages and disadvantages.
To start with, books can brightly depict a story about other cultures and countries. Using trade books also raises the question of what images are presented about given nations, such as China and Russia. However, different books present various perspectives of particular regions. The difficulty of making generalizations about a nation of one billion people becomes obvious when selecting trade books or other materials about people living in large nations that have a diversity of people and geographical regions. But despite this disadvantage, books are able to develop various important skills.
There are many book formats. The narrative text structure is the easiest written format for children to understand since the emphasis is on characters and plot. Nonetheless, it also has some drawbacks. Students need to distinguish fact from fiction as well as be able to identify the authors interpretation of historical figures and events. While reading such books, young children can stop distinguishing reality from imagined world. Definitely, historical fiction can invoke the powerful reality of events long ago; it often can serve as a springboard for examining diverse perspectives such as American Indians and frontier families or peasants versus feudal lords. However, while reading books, children develop their imagination and fail to observe the reality. Unfortunately, students read the characters and plot with high interest, but too often do not really get the meaning of the historical background.
There are some effective solutions to these issues. For example, it is necessary for children to check with at least one other source to see if it agrees with the accuracy of the previous source and interpretation in the historical fiction. Teachers should also present different historical documentaries. To avoid students copying directly from the text, students should design a format or an advanced organizer that requires students to summarize the data.
In brief, books are quite important, because they can vividly tell about diverse cultural perspectives. Regardless of whether the textbook is used or not, the use of texts in a social studies class is unavoidable if students want to access and understand the course content. Nevertheless, teacher should develop different approaches that can ensure that students understand the real context of these books.
Commercially Purchased Social Studies Learning
There are also various technological tools that can be successfully applied in teaching. However, some of them are commercially purchased. That is the reason why it is important to analyze their pros and cons.
To begin, there are many free programs. For instance, GoNorth follows a group of scientists, explorers, and educators as they dogsled across the Arctic in Chukotka, Russia. However, it requires teachers to understand its details. First, the teacher studies the curriculum for a full understanding of the program and then downloads the activities and handouts that complement the online learning. This is a great motivating technique for young students.
Multimedia projects are also quite beneficial. In order not to let the technology be the main focus for the students, it is helpful to have students first create the storyboards and scripts, and then integrate the images, sound, text, video, and narration. Software is available on many informational systems. A GIS, for instance, allows for more complex tools for location based information and mapmaking that can support inquiry learning. Nevertheless, it is complex software and it may take some time until teachers learn how to use this innovative tool. Maps are also vital for learning geography and history. One problem with these maps is that they often contain too much detail and may be confusing for many students.
All in all, commercially purchased technology is quite useful, but it is not always easy to understand for both teachers and students.
Teacher-Prepared Social Studies Learning
Teachers can create various strategies to teach social studies. Through careful planning, teachers can maximize the minimized time allowed for this subject and create opportunities for teaching social studies content. For instance, economics is a complex area, and, consequently, teachers need to create effective strategies to explain this science.
There are many important economics books and resources for classroom. However, teachers can also prepare a presentation about specific products. For instance, for each food product, teachers should make flowcharts with the class showing the sequence of events in planting, growing, harvesting, processing the crop into a food product, packaging the product, distributing (transporting), and selling the food product at a market. This strategy requires careful teaching preparation.
Overall, teacher-prepared social studies learning are quite effective, but they are quite time consuming. In fact, there is a great variety of social study themes, such as love, power or freedom. In fact, teachers should always search for effective ways to explain such complex terminology.