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Social Studies in Action: A Methodology Workshop, K-5

Making Connections

How do we connect social studies to life beyond the classroom? In this culminating session, the teachers demonstrate the major concepts they've learned throughout the workshop in social studies unit presentations. Classroom video segments further illustrate effective ways of bridging social studies concepts and the world beyond the classroom, and show creative examples of teaching and learning.

Making Connections

Because social studies concepts like citizenship extend beyond the classroom, teachers need strategies to help students understand real-world applications of social studies content. This final session addresses the questions, How can we connect social studies to life beyond the classroom? and How can teachers prepare students to become effective citizens?

To help you extend your thinking, in this session you will:

  • Explore strategies that connect social studies concepts to the real world.
  • Identify the elements of a democratic classroom.
  • Examine lessons that promote effective citizenship.
  • Develop a unit that applies the strategies discussed in this session.

Learning Goals

At the end of this session you will be able to:

• Connect social studies learning to the world beyond the classroom.

• Model democratic processes in the classroom.

• Apply content and teaching strategies in your practice.

Engage

1. Getting Started

Watch the video introduction to familiarize yourself with the session, instructor, and participants. As you watch, think about how you connect social studies to the world beyond the classroom, and how making connections enhances students’ understanding.

View Video Segment: Introduction

You’ll find this segment at the beginning of the video. Watch for about 6 minutes.

2. What Do You Know?

A concept chart can help you identify teaching strategies you currently use to help students connect social studies concepts and real-world applications. Begin by thinking of social studies units you teach by connecting to the world beyond the classroom. Then think of the activities or assignments that reinforce students’ understanding of real-world applications.

Here is an example:

 

Complete the Concept Chart (PDF) by listing some of the social studies units you teach and the connecting activities you use to teach them.

3. Reflect on Your Work

When you have completed the concept chart, consider the following questions:

  • What are the benefits and challenges of making real-world connections in social studies?
  • How can making real-world connections promote understanding and long-term retention of social studies concepts?
  • What strategies from the video would you add to your practices?

Explore

Key Concepts from Glossary

Effective citizenship

Democratic classroom

Readings
Read each of the articles listed below to gain knowledge about key concepts related to teaching for effective citizenship.

After you read the articles, write answers to the following questions. You can use the Reading Questions form (PDF).

  1. How does the NCSS definition of social studies connect classroom learning and real-world situations?
  2. What are the dimensions of effective citizenship?
  3. Describe strategies that can be used to model democracy in the classroom.

Save your written work to submit as an assignment.

 

Articles
What Is Social Studies? (PDF)
Defines social studies and describes its role within the curriculum.

National Council for the Social Studies. “What Is Social Studies?” Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies.

Citizenship: The Democratic Imagination in a Global/Local Context (PDF)
Identifies the dimensions of effective citizenship in a global age.

Cogan, John J., David Grossman, and Mel-hui-Liu. “Citizenship: The Democratic Imagination in a Global/Local Context.” National Council for the Social Studies.

Young Citizens: Partners in Classroom Management (PDF)
Explains the need for young students to practice democratic processes in the classroom.

Metzger, Devon. “Young Citizens: Partners in Classroom Management.” National Council for the Social Studies.

Explain

The following video segment illustrates how social studies teachers can help prepare students to become effective citizens by modeling democratic ideas and practices in the classroom.

Print the Viewing Chart (PDF) you will need to record your observations.

View Video Segment: Democratic Classrooms

You’ll find this segment approximately 7 minutes into the video. Watch for about 24 minutes.

In the first part of this segment, Cynthia Vaughn teaches a lesson on community, citizens, and leaders. Next, Libby Sinclair teaches a lesson on stereotypes and the history of the Negro baseball leagues.

As you watch, look for examples of how Ms. Vaughn and Ms. Sinclair model democratic classrooms and prepare their students to become effective citizens. Take notes on classroom climate, resources used, and the content and values being taught. Then compare your answers to those of the workshop participants.

Save your written work to submit as an assignment.

Apply

Apply what you’ve learned about making connections by completing the following activities.

1. Making Connections in Your Teaching

How do you make connections? This activity is designed to help you connect teaching goals with strategies that enhance students’ understanding of social studies applications. Review the teaching goals and tips, then brainstorm and list strategies you would use to help students make connections. When you’re done, compare your answers to other teachers’ sample answers.

Making Connections in Your Teaching
Go to Interactive Activity 

A non-interactive version of this activity is available as a PDF document.

2. Developing a Unit

In this activity, you will develop a unit that connects social studies content to the world beyond the classroom. Before you begin, watch the following video segment.

View Video Segment: Final Units

You’ll find this segment approximately 31 minutes into the video. Watch for about 15 minutes.

In this segment, workshop participants present and discuss units they have developed.

Now it’s your turn to develop a unit with a democratic classroom and real-world connections in mind. Use the workshop participants’ units and the Developing a Unit form (PDF) to guide you. When you’re finished, write your answers to the questions on page 2 of the form. Be sure to include:

  • Unit title
  • Objectives
  • Lessons and activities
  • Resources
  • Assessment methods

Save your written work to submit as an assignment.

Evaluate

In this session, you learned about the importance of connecting social studies instruction to the world beyond the classroom. You also learned how modeling democracy in your own classroom helps prepare students to become effective citizens. Now, watch the final video segment to wrap up the session.

View Video Segment: Making Connections

You’ll find this segment approximately 46 minutes into the video. Watch for about 11 minutes.

In this segment, workshop participants present more examples of how they bridge the gap between classroom instruction and the outside world.

After you watch the final video segment, write a Summary (PDF) of what you’ve learned in this session. Be sure to include:

  • what it means to be an effective citizen;
  • elements of a democratic classroom;
  • how democratic classrooms prepare students to become effective citizens; and
  • strategies you plan to use to connect social studies instruction to life beyond the classroom.

Save your written work to submit as an assignment.

 

Refer to the Assignments below to be sure you’ve completed all assignments for this session.

Resources

Print

Blythe, Tina, and Associates. The Teaching for Understanding Guide. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1998.

Newmann, Fred M., and Associates. Authentic Achievement: Restructuring Schools for Intellectual Quality. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1996.

 

Websites

Active Learning Practices for Schools
Provides information about performances of understanding.

Harvard Education Research
Describes four leading models of cooperative learning.

Jigsaw Classroom
Explains and provides tips on the jigsaw method.

Assignments

If you are taking this workshop for credit or professional development, submit the following assignments for session 8: Making Connections.

  1. Explore: Read the articles and respond to the questions that follow.
  2. Explain: Watch the video segment and complete the Viewing Chart.
  3. Apply: Apply what you’ve learned and complete the Developing a Unit activity.
  4. Evaluate: Summarize what you’ve learned and how you will apply session content to enhance your teaching.

Workshops