The Essentials of Social Studies, Grades K-8: Effective Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

The Essentials of Social Studies, Grades K-8: Effective Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

The Essentials of Social Studies, Grades K-8: Effective Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

The Essentials of Social Studies, Grades K-8: Effective Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

Synopsis

In today's climate of accountability and high-stakes testing, many U. S. schools are choosing to focus on the three Rs to the exclusion of other subjects, including social studies. Yet it is more crucial than ever for schools to foster the qualities that will enable students to actively participate in a democratic and global society. The Essentials of Social Studies, Grades K-8 takes a look at how innovative educators are helping students to hone these skills. Readers of this book will learn more about: The challenges that elementary and middle school teachers face in keeping social studies in the curriculum, How to align social studies lessons with curriculum standards, Strategies to infuse social studies instruction with passion and purpose, Ways to promote students' deep understanding of social studies content, Why lessons and assessments should give students opportunities to solve problems, work on projects, and engage in simulations, How social studies can prepare students for a lifetime of active civic involvement, Professional development that will help teachers bring the social studies curriculum to life in the classroom.

Excerpt

The business of public education in America is, and should be,
to teach young people how to take charge of their own learning
and to become responsible, informed, and engaged citizens.

Restoring the Balance Between Academics and Civic Engagement
in Public Schools,
American Youth Policy Forum (2005)

It is the job of schools to ensure that students develop the qualities and skills that will enable them to contribute meaningfully to the needs of future societies. In the U.S. education field's current climate of accountability, however, this essential goal seems to be overlooked in favor of test preparation.

On her darkest days, a veteran educator admits, she believes that excluding social studies from the curriculum is part of a grand scheme to keep power in the hands of a controlling few. Think about it, she says: it stands to reason that if students aren't educated in democratic processes, they won't truly understand the need to get out and vote during an election—ensuring that those in elected office stay in elected office. She then observes that when “large groups of people become disenfranchised, things don't go well for those societies” and warns that the United States is going to be “sunk as a nation” if social studies continues to get short shrift in schools. Still, she hopes that as more educators and policymakers become aware of the damage caused by narrowing the curriculum, they will lobby for social studies to be restored to the learning program.

In this book, you'll find a number of educators who are equally dismayed to find that when forced to choose between delivering a broad liberal . . .

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