Teaching Secondary School Social Studies

By James F. High | Go to book overview
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Another kind of manipulative skill that can be used and constantly improved by students in social studies is the construction of various kinds of notebooks. Keeping notes is an old process, but it is subject to many new twists. First of all, it entails handling and manipulating a great many different kinds of material. A notebook may be used to keep the record of all learning materials. It may be the repository of research notes, class notes, reading lists, pictures, spontaneous drawings, tables or just plain doodles. Naturally, it has its most orderly and cogent purpose when it is devoted to a specific organization and recording of data and formulations concerning a particular topic. Several notebooks should be kept by every student, and enough care should be exercised in their preparation so that they will be proudly retained over many years.

For example, when the Constitution is studied, as it is in American schools many times, the child might prepare a notebook in extended fashion over the whole period of study. The Constitution can be dissected and reassembled in notebook form by a student, using his creative skill in embellishment and organization, and it is a fair bet that he will remember the provisions of the Constitution and its formation better than if he had only read about it.

One eighth grader decided to keep such a notebook. On the cover page he selected a passage with some inspirational quality. "Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitance thereof. . . ." He went on to each succeeding step of the adoption of the Constitution and its major provisions. Each page was devoted to one topic and embellished with original drawings or copies of cartoon and portraits, each appropriate to the meaning of the particular point being studied. Certain pages contained notes taken in class when the teacher explained things, and certain other pages were devoted to items of knowledge gained by independent study.

In connection with the Constitutional Convention in 1787, one page illustrated some of the personalities involved in the Great Compromise between the large states and the small states.


The skills of social studies are so numerous and varied that it would become encyclopedic to list them all, and probably there would be disagreement as to what to include. It is sufficient to bear in mind a short list of major skills including almost innumerable subdivisions. There are skills of communication: reading, writing,


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Teaching Secondary School Social Studies


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