How Do Children Make a Difference in Our World?
Betts, Brenda, Social Studies Review
The Spring/Summer 2009 issue of the Social Studies Review is about inspiring hope in our students and encouraging them to make a difference in the world.
Students need to feel hopeful about their lives and their world. Students need to believe that what they think, what they do, how they feel, and who they are, is important. Students need to feel they have a purpose, but they may need help in setting appropriate and satisfying goals. They need to feel a sense of belonging, of being an essential part of their world. They need to understand that they can make choices, influence others, and shape attitudes about existing conditions, so they can feel empowered and motivated to make the changes they believe are necessary.
Students also need opportunities to learn civic responsibility, to develop leadership skills, and to build self-esteem and self-confidence. Social Studies is about learning the stories of people and their relationships to the present and the past. We study people, places, and events because we want to understand our lives and our history.
In this issue, we have made the connection between meeting the needs of our students and achieving the goals of Social Studies. The journal offers fascinating stories of determined and tenacious youth. The activities that have been included will encourage learning and support student empowerment. After all, what is more important than helping our students to value themselves, inspire hope, and demonstrate how they can make a difference in the world?
We have enjoyed an overwhelming response to the theme for this issue of the Social Studies Review, Children Who Made a Difference. This topic strongly resonated with many educators. We received numerous submissions for this issue of the journal, so it was a challenge to select only a limited number of articles for publication.
It seems that many Social Studies educators intuitively understood the value of introducing their students to the outstanding accomplishments of so many remarkable youths. There is a need to identify positive role models with attainable accomplishments to inspire our students. After careful deliberation, the Review Board thoughtfully selected twelve excellent articles and a compendium of resources.
For this issue of the Social Studies Review, the authors have chosen to focus on stories about the remarkable accomplishments of some amazing children, rather than on philosophical discussions, theoretical frameworks, or an analysis of research. The articles are timely and practical for the K- 1 2 classrooms . The History-Social Science Standards are identified. However, in most cases, the topics are certainly not limited to a specific grade level.
We think you will be pleased by the abundance of information, activities, and resources provided for your classroom and school. We feel confident that you will enjoy the stories about the remarkable children and find new ways to teach about them while meeting the History-Social Science Standards. When students have the opportunity to learn about the accomplishments of other children, they often become interested in reading more about them and eventually decide to design their own projects in order to make a difference.
When the curriculum is relevant to the lives of children, they feel empowered and motivated to consider new possibilities for their lives. They need to read, write, listen, and speak to find out more about the selected topics, so they develop strong academic skills in purposeful learning activities.
The children's voices presented in this issue of the journal are powerful, and tenacious. The children have been resourceful and determined to make a difference. They have achieved their goals and many of them have created ongoing, sustainable projects.
Reading about their excellent work is sure to open our hearts and encourage us to speak out against injustice and grievous social and environmental conditions. …