Darlene Jones-Inge teaches fourth-grade social studies at the Patrick O'Hearn Elementary School in Dorchester, Massachusetts. A close-knit community bordering downtown Boston, Dorchester is home to a diverse ethnic and socioeconomic population. The school population reflects the community: 50 percent is African American; 20 percent is Caucasian; and 20 percent are recent immigrants from Ireland, Africa, Cape Verde, Haiti, and Vietnam. O'Hearn Elementary is also a full-inclusive school. Students with physical and cognitive disabilities participate in regular classes, and the school's parent outreach program offers child-care during parent-teacher meetings. Parent involvement and student retention are both high.
Throughout the year, Ms. Jones-Inge's students studied the culture and history of different world regions, including China, Africa, Egypt, Greece, and the United States; and focused on the connections, similarities, and differences among cultures. Ms. Jones-Inge also emphasized applying social studies themes and ideas to the real world. Through field trips, students interacted with contemporary cultures whose origins connect back to regions the students studied. In each unit, students learned related vocabulary words, examined relevant current event articles, and studied geographical features of the area.
Part of the United States unit, the "Making a Difference Through Giving" lesson focused on students' roles as global citizens. This lesson built on students' earlier study of other cultures and incorporated the yearlong theme of community service. Other community service activities throughout the year included planting trees in the schoolyard and visiting local nursing homes.
By this time in the year, Ms. Jones-Inge expected students to be able to work in groups, brainstorm for creative solutions, and think about what it means to be a global citizen. By designing achievable community service projects, Ms. Inge-Jones also wanted students to realize the satisfaction of completing realistic, long-term goals.
Following the video lesson, the students explored connections between themselves and other aspects of American history. For example, while studying women's history, they researched women who made a difference in their own lives and in world history. The year ended with a comprehensive unit on the five themes of geography.
Lesson Background >>