Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Teacher Resources
Social Studies in Action: A Teaching Practices Library, K-12

A video library for K-12 teachers; 29 half-hour and 3 one-hour video programs, library guide, and Web site

The Social Studies in Action teaching practices library, professional development guide, and companion Web site bring to life the National Council for the Social Studies standards. Blending content and methodology, the video library documents 24 teachers and their students in K-12 classrooms across the country actively exploring the social studies. Lively, provocative, and educationally sound, these lessons are designed to inspire thoughtful conversations and reflections on teaching practices in the social studies.

Produced by WGBH Educational Foundation. 2003.

Closed Caption     ISBN: 1-57680-635-9
Two students work on a poster for a lesson covering both African history and geography.
Two students work on a poster for a lesson covering both African history and geography.

Enter the Series Web Site
Individual Program Descriptions
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Social Studies in Action: A Methodology Workshop, K-5
A Biography of America
Democracy in America
Social Science Discipline Page
Individual Program Descriptions

1. Introduction to the Video Library
This program presents the purpose of the Social Studies in Action video library. It introduces all the components of the library, explains the goals of NCSS, and presents examples of classroom lessons throughout the library. This program also addresses a variety of ways in which the library can be used for enhancing the curriculum, teacher reflection, and best practices for teaching.

VOD2. A Standards Overview, K-5
This program includes K–5 classroom examples from across the country that define and illustrate the 10 NCSS thematic strands and present a variety of ways that they can be integrated into the K–5 curriculum. The primary grades begin to lay the foundation and groundwork for big ideas and concepts in social studies, such as a sense of place, time, community, and justice.

VOD3. Historical Change
David Kitts is a first–grade teacher on the Santo Domingo Indian Reservation in New Mexico. In his bilingual classroom, Native American students are studying the history of farming through a lesson that compares farming in eighteenth–century New England to current–day practices in the Midwest. The lesson uses literature and the study of various farming tools and products to illuminate the changes that have taken place in the industry over time and in different parts of the country. The lesson includes group activity and discussion. Go to this unit.

VOD4. China Through Mapping
Mimi Norton teaches second grade at Solano Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona. In this lesson, students learn about China's position on the globe and the location of important landmarks within the country. As a class, students create a giant map of China on the floor. Working in teams, students complete mapping tasks at classroom stations, focusing on the five themes of geography. As a culminating activity, students solve an interactive detective mystery created by Ms. Norton and work in small groups to solve problems based on their mastery of the map of China. Go to this unit.

VOD5. Leaders, Community, and Citizens
Cynthia Vaughn teaches first grade at the Rooftop Alternative School in San Francisco, California. The objective of Ms. Vaughn's lesson is to help her students differentiate between the titles and roles of elected officials at city, state, and country levels. After a class discussion outlining the various roles of these elected officials, students work in pairs to complete a chart, matching specific names with job titles and buildings, and then discuss their work with the whole class. Then, the students build their own fictitious community and explore and present the issues facing the town. Go to this unit.

VOD6. Making Bread Together
Meylin Gonzalez is a kindergarten teacher in Tampa, Florida. Ms. Gonzalez uses this lesson to introduce her students to several economic concepts, including production and cooperation. Using a children's book as a guide, Ms. Gonzalez reviews with her students how people work cooperatively on an assembly line to make a product. The students then experience the concepts of production and distribution through an activity in which they create an assembly line in the classroom and prepare hand–made bread. Go to this unit.

VOD7. Caring for the Community
Debbie Lerner teaches grades 1–3 at Red Bridge Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri. Red Bridge incorporates a personalized learning curriculum in which students stay in the same classroom for all three grade levels. Ms. Lerner's lesson focuses on the concept of community and explores how her students can help make a difference in each other's lives. Students review the concept of resources and interview their superintendent to understand how decisions are made that affect the school budget. Students then work in groups to brainstorm and create flyers to help prepare for their school's upcoming remodeling. Go to this unit.

VOD8. Celebrations of Light
Eileen Mesmer teaches a combined kindergarten and first–grade class in Salem, Massachusetts, a diverse community outside Boston. Ms. Mesmer asks her students to explore the many ways the holidays are celebrated and to find commonalities among the various celebrations. Ms. Mesmer reads to the students from "The Winter Solstice," using it to help students understand the greater theme of community. Through math, writing, and drawing stations located throughout the classroom, students interact with the content in a variety of ways and through diverse learning styles. Go to this unit.

VOD9. Explorers in North America
Rob Cuddi, a fifth–grade teacher at Winthrop Middle School in Winthrop, Massachusetts, has been teaching for almost 30 years and has recently taken an active role in restructuring the social studies curriculum to accommodate both state and national standards. Mr. Cuddi's lesson introduces the theme of exploration in North America, posing three essential questions: How have people in history affected our lives today?; How do the human and physical systems of the Earth interact?; and What role do economies play in the foundation of our history? Go to this unit.

VOD10. California Missions
Osvaldo Rubio is a bilingual fourth–grade social studies teacher at Sherman Oaks Community Charter School in San Jose, California. Mr. Rubio's geography lesson focuses on the location and movement of California missions. In groups, students create artistic, oral, written, and other more sophisticated audio–visual presentations. Some students use the Internet to download images, while others use a digital camera and editing software to create their own presentations in the form of an I–Movie. Go to this unit.

VOD11. State Government and the Role of the Citizen
Diane Kerr is a fourth–grade teacher at Butcher Greene Elementary School in the ethnically diverse community of Grandview, Missouri, a few miles outside Kansas City. Ms. Kerr presents a lesson on the state of Missouri and its three branches of government. Students work in groups and create posters that represent the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. The students also voice their concerns about what can be done to improve their lives. As a class, they then work to understand the process of how a bill becomes a law. Go to this unit.

VOD12. Using Primary Sources
Kathleen Waffle teaches fifth grade at John Muir Elementary School in San Bruno, California, a working–class suburb of San Francisco. In a unit on Colonial America, students examine an eighteenth–century business through a case study of a successful silversmith who lived in Colonial Williamsburg. In small groups, students use primary source documents (advertisements) and artifacts to identify the business strategies used by the silversmith. They then translate a historic contract between a master and an apprentice and examine how colonial apprenticeships compare with present–day job pursuits. Go to this unit.

VOD13. Making a Difference Through Giving
Darlene Jones–Inge is a fourth–grade teacher at O'Hearn Elementary School located in Boston's inner city. Ms. Jones–Inge, a teacher for 10 years, presents a complex lesson that focuses on the theme of giving. Ms. Jones–Inge has students work in teams to determine a meaningful service project addressing the needs within their school, community, country, or world. Through thoughtful voting and collaborative decision making, students must determine the goal and scale of their project. Go to this unit.

VOD14. Understanding Stereotypes
Libby Sinclair is a fourth– and fifth–grade teacher at Alternative Elementary School #2 in Seattle, Washington. In her lesson, Ms. Sinclair asks her students to define the term "stereotype" from a variety of perspectives. At the beginning of the lesson, Ms. Sinclair has students brainstorm individually and in groups to understand how stereotypes have affected their lives and their learning. After recognizing that the contribution of Negro baseball leagues has been omitted from the history of baseball, students thoughtfully plan and execute a letter campaign to contact text publishers. Go to this unit.

VOD15. A Standards Overview, 6-8
Lessons from grade 6–8 classrooms illustrate how the NCSS standards and themes can be integrated into the middle school curriculum. Middle school teachers explore a number of expectations and outcomes in their lessons and build on the fundamentals established in the elementary grades. Themes of civics, political science, and history begin to take on more meaning as the content in these lessons connects to students' lives.

VOD16. Explorations in Archeology and History
Gwen Larsen teaches sixth–grade social studies at Harbor School in Boston, Massachusetts. In her introductory lesson, Ms. Larsen guides students through an exploration of their family histories, leading to their place in the larger human family and the development of civilizations. Ms. Larsen's students work in groups to differentiate between fossils and artifacts. The lesson concludes with student presentations of their own family heirlooms. Go to this unit.

VOD17. Exploring Geography Through African History
Lisa Farrow is a seventh–grade world cultures teacher at Shiloh Middle School in a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. Ms. Farrow's lesson provides her students with an understanding of African history and geography. After creating a personal timeline, the students create a historical timeline of Africa, focusing on the Bantu migrations, the rise of Islam, the West African trading empires, the Turkish empire, the slave trade, and European colonialism. Students take an active role in group work as they create maps and captions that define each period. Ms. Farrow concentrates on the importance of the trading empires and their connection to Africa's history as a whole. Go to this unit.

VOD18. The Amistad Case
Gary Fisher is a teacher at Timilty Middle School in the urban community of Roxbury, Massachusetts, part of the greater Boston area. In his eighth–grade U.S. history class, Mr. Fisher examines the history of African American slavery through a dramatic mock trial based on the Amistad case in 1839. Serving as the defense, prosecution, judges, and other historical characters in the trial, students develop their cases and present them in a formal court setting created in their classroom. In his class, Mr. Fisher collaborates with the Spanish teacher who provides special support for second–language learners. Go to this unit.

VOD19. Population and Resource Distribution
Becky Forristal teaches seventh–grade economics at Rockwood Valley Middle School, 20 miles outside St. Louis, Missouri. Her lesson focuses on a population simulation that explores world economics, demonstrating the inequalities in land, food, energy, and wealth distribution in the world today. Using a global map on the classroom floor, students are able to visualize how resources are distributed in both wealthy and under–developed nations of the world. Go to this unit.

VOD20. Landmark Supreme Court Cases
Wendy Ewbank teaches seventh and eighth grade at Madrona School in Bellevue, Washington. In a civics lesson on landmark Supreme Court cases, the students focus on the tension between the rights of the individual and the good of society. In the lesson, students work in groups, presenting various cases to the class in the form of a press conference. Key issues include the right to privacy, equal protection, and the First Amendment. On day two, students hold a town meeting to discuss whether the burning of the American flag is protected under the right to freedom of speech. Ms. Ewbank provides clear rubrics, which help students understand the expectations and goals for the lesson. Go to this unit.

VOD21. The Middle East Conflict
Justin Zimmerman is a sixth-grade teacher at Magnolia School in Joppa, Maryland, about 30 miles north of Baltimore. Mr. Zimmerman explores the claims to land in the Middle East from three major religions — Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. After learning about the geography of the area, the students begin to explore the region's political unrest and discuss the controversy over control of the land of Israel. Through this lesson, the students begin to make connections that relate their own lives to the political and religious struggle. Go to this unit.

VOD22. A Standards Overview, 9-12
This program shows a variety of complex topics from high school lessons, illustrating how the NCSS standards and themes can be integrated into teaching in grades 9–12. Teachers will be able to see how the curriculum can be expanded to address complex issues and content in meaningful ways and become much more sophisticated in exploring all areas of social studies.

VOD23. Public Opinion and the Vietnam War
Liz Morrison is a ninth–grade American history teacher at Parkway South High School in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. In a lesson on the Vietnam War, Ms. Morrison explores how public opinion was shaped by key events. Students create a timeline and work in groups to discover how public opinion changed from approval to disapproval. The students view television footage from this period and listen to popular music that reflects both sides of public opinion. Ms. Morrison helps her students make connections from the Vietnam War to their world today. Go to this unit.

VOD24. Migration From Latin America
Mavis Weir teaches 10th–grade history at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, California. In this lesson, students explore the various reasons people emigrate from their homeland. The class is broken up into six separate groups, each representing a different Latin American country with its own set of resources. Using both primary and secondary sources, students examine the economic, political, and environmental circumstances that cause people to emigrate. Each group presents their findings through a variety of creative presentations that include theatrical skits, artwork, and music. Go to this unit.

VOD25. Competing Ideologies
Wendell Brooks is a teacher at the diverse Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California. Mr. Brooks' ninth–grade history class focuses on a variety of political ideologies present during the period of World War I. His class includes lively discussion on capitalism, communism, totalitarianism, and Nazism, as portrayed by leaders such as Hitler and Mussolini. In his lesson, Mr. Brooks incorporates a Socratic discussion into his lesson, as well as group activities and presentations. Go to this unit.

VOD26. Economic Dilemmas and Solutions
Steven Page is a 12th–grade economics teacher at Vivian Gaither Senior High School in Tampa, Florida. In this lesson, students review and interpret the government's role in the economy. Working in groups, students examine economic dilemmas, including the implications of human cloning, year–round schooling, and drug legalization. Students then reach consensus on a "proper" economic decision and present their findings in the form of a skit, followed by a group discussion. Go to this unit.

VOD27. Gender-Based Distinctions
Tim Rockey teaches 12th–grade American government and politics at Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Rockey reviews the concept of civil rights, with a focus on women's rights. Students evaluate the "reasonableness" standard as set by the court and come to understand where the court has drawn the line for gender–based decisions. They explore the following questions: Can public taverns cater only to men? Can females be excluded from contact sports? And can a state military college exclude women? After examining Supreme Court cases, students render a judgment as to the validity of the standard of equal rights. Go to this unit.

VOD28. The Individual in Society
Brian Poon is a teacher at Brookline High School in metropolitan Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. Poon's 12th–grade philosophy lesson focuses on the role of the individual in society. Based on readings by various philosophers, including Reinhold Niebuhr, Thomas Hobbes, Mao Zedong, Martha Nussbaum, and Plato, students apply the philosophers' viewpoints to solve the dilemmas of a fictitious nation called "Fenway." They then participate in a dynamic class discussion about how to integrate the best philosophical ideas to address Fenway's problems. Go to this unit.

VOD29. Groups, Projects, and Presentations
This program examines how social studies teachers in any grade level can use groups, projects, and presentations to help students become actively involved in their learning. Topics range from structuring groups to creating scoring guides and rubrics. Through examples of cooperative learning, decision making, and problem solving, teachers can examine how to use groups, projects, and presentations to promote powerful learning.

VOD30. Unity and Diversity
This program examines how social studies teachers in any grade level can embrace both unity and diversity in their classrooms. Topics range from exploring democratic values to building awareness of student diversity. Through examples of students connecting with one another and embracing the different cultures within their community, teachers can reflect on how to best address issues of unity and diversity in their classroom.

VOD31. Dealing With Controversial Issues
This program examines how social studies teachers in any grade level can encourage open and informed discussions with their students while dealing with controversial issues. Topics range from stereotypes and gender–based discrimination to the conflict in the Middle East. Through clearly identifying issues, listening to multiple perspectives, and formulating personal positions, teachers can explore a variety of strategies that can be used to teach challenging issues such as these in their own classrooms.

VOD32. Creating Effective Citizens
This program explores how social studies teachers in any grade level can help their students develop the democratic values that will make them effective and responsible citizens. Teachers are shown helping students see their community in a broader sense and inspiring them to think about ways they can make a difference. The classroom lessons emphasize how civic processes work, how to discuss issues from multiple perspectives, and how teachers can inspire their students to take social action.



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