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

Using Resources

How can students use a variety of resources well? This session focuses on how to make the most of the resources that can be used in teaching social studies, from artifacts and primary sources to children's literature and the Internet. An adaptable mini-lesson uses children's literature to examine what constitutes a good citizen, resulting in a lively debate among the onscreen teachers.

Using Resources

How can students use a variety of resources well? This session focuses on how to make the most of resources in teaching social studies, from artifacts and primary sources to children’s literature and technology. You’ll explore resources and methodologies designed to meet the needs of diverse learners.

To help you improve your teaching, you will:

  • Explore a variety of social studies resources.
  • Analyze lessons that show how resources can be used.
  • Examine the connection between resources and differentiated instruction.
  • Explore methodologies that help students use resources effectively.

Learning Goals

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

• Identify resources that address diverse learners.

• Connect resources with methodology to enhance students’ understanding.

• Apply content and strategies to your own teaching.

• Use resources to enhance a standards-based curriculum.


1. Getting Started

Watch the video introduction to familiarize yourself with the session, instructor, and participants. As you watch, think about the resources you use in teaching social studies.

View Video Segment: Introduction

You’ll find this segment at the beginning of the video. Watch for about 17 minutes.

In this video segment, participants share resources they use to teach social studies, and analyze classroom examples.

2. What Do You Know?

A concept chart can help you connect learning goals and resources that you currently use to teach social studies. Begin by thinking of a social studies unit you teach. Recall the objectives for the unit and the resources you use.

Use the Concept Chart (PDF) to list the objectives and the resources.

Here is an example:

3. Reflect on Your Work

When you have completed your chart, review the resources you use and consider the following questions:

  • What types of resources do you tend to use?
  • What influences your choice of resources?
  • Why have some resources been more successful than others?
  • What resources from the video would you add to your list?


Key Concepts from Glossary

Primary sources

Secondary sources

Online resources

Differentiated instruction


Read each of the articles listed below to learn about key concepts related to maximizing resources in social studies teaching. As you read, look for these concepts, their definitions, and examples of each.

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

  1. What is differentiated instruction?
  2. What are some differences between traditional pedagogy and differentiated instruction?
  3. What are the challenges and benefits of differentiated instruction?
  4. List examples of the following types of resources. Explain how you would use each resource to support differentiated instruction:
    • Primary sources
    • Secondary sources
    • Online resources
  5. What are the benefits and challenges of using technology-based resources in social studies?

Save your written work to submit as an assignment.


Mapping a Route Toward Differentiated Instruction (PDF)
Examines the advantages of a curriculum based on differentiated instruction.

Tomlinson, Carol Ann. “Mapping a Route Toward Differentiated Instruction.” Educational Leadership. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Using Library of Congress Online Resources (PDF)
Provides online lessons and primary sources to enhance teaching of U.S. history.

Singleton, Laurel R., and James R. Giese. “American Memory: Using Library of Congress Online Resources To Enhance History Teaching.” National Council for the Social Studies.

Using Technology for Powerful Social Studies Learning (PDF)
Identifies criteria for selecting instructional technology.

Rose, Stephen A., and Phyllis Maxey Fernlund. “Using Technology for Powerful Social Studies Learning.” National Council for the Social Studies.


The following video segments show how teachers use a variety of social studies resources. Before you watch, print the Viewing Chart (PDF) you will use to analyze the lessons.

As you watch, take notes on the concepts taught in each lesson, and the resources and strategies used to teach them. Then compare your answers as you watch the workshop participants discuss the teaching examples.

View Video Segment: Identifying Resources in Classroom Examples

You’ll find this segment approximately 18 minutes into the video. Watch for about 22 minutes.

This segment features several examples of teaching social studies using a variety of resources.

  • Mary McFarland teaches a mini-lesson on a speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Kathleen Waffle’s class studies contracts in Colonial America.
  • David Kitts teaches about changes in farming over time.
  • Libby Sinclair’s students explore stereotypes and the history of the Negro baseball leagues.

Save your written work to submit as an assignment.


Now that you have watched teachers using resources in social studies lessons, apply what you know in the following activities.

1. Using Artifacts

In the early grades, images can be effective tools for engaging students while teaching social studies. Old photographs and artwork turn your classroom into a history lab by offering students a glimpse into the past, and an image from which to think about daily life, culture, and change through time. In this activity, you will view an engraving and two photographs from U.S. history. As you view these resources, think about what you can identify and interpret through the images, and what kinds of questions you might generate if you were using these images to teach your students.

Using Artifacts
Go to Interactive Activity

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

When you’ve completed the activity, choose one image from the activity, assume the role of a newspaper reporter, and write a short article (250-300 words) about the image. Be sure to include:

  • A headline
  • Historical backdrop or context
  • Descriptions of the people and their surroundings in the image
  • An analysis of what’s taking place
  • What the impact might be on the community or country

You can use the Writing an Article form (PDF).

Save your written work to submit as an assignment.

2. Developing a Lesson

This activity is designed to help you plan a lesson with specific learning goals and resources in mind. Before you develop your own lesson, watch the adaptable mini-lesson in the workshop as a model.

View Video Segment: What Makes a Good Citizen?

ou’ll find this segment approximately 42 minutes into the video. Watch for about 15 minutes.

Now it’s your turn. Develop a lesson that maximizes resources to teach social studies. Use the Developing a Lesson form (PDF) to help you organize your lesson plan. Be sure to include the following:

  • Lesson title
  • Objectives
  • Two or three teaching activities to address your learning goals and help diverse learners reach the same goals
  • Resources that will best address the learning activities and learning goals

Once you’ve drafted a lesson, write your answers to the following questions:

  1. How do the resources engage students and address your objectives?
  2. How does each resource address diverse learners?
  3. Which resource covers the widest range of learners?

Save your written work to submit as an assignment.

If you are taking all eight sessions for credit, you may continue to work on lessons and materials for this unit in subsequent sessions. Save a copy of your work.


As the session began, you developed a concept chart that identified learning objectives and listed some of the resources you use to teach social studies. Now complete a Final Concept Chart (PDF) that includes all the resources you have studied. Classify each as primary, secondary, technological, and/or diverse.

Once you have finished your new concept chart, revisit your initial concept chart to see how your knowledge of different types of resources has expanded.

Now, write a brief Summary (PDF). Describe three new resources you plan to use in your teaching that will help you differentiate instruction. Explain how you plan to use them and how they relate to your teaching goals, illustrate good practice, and extend your thinking about resources.

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.



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.



Notable Social Studies Trade Books
Lists the NCSS’s notable social studies trade books for 2002.

Library of Congress Teachers Page
Features learning resources and activities to use with primary sources.



If you are taking this workshop for credit or professional development, submit the following assignments for session 5: Using Resources.

  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: Complete the Using Artifacts activity, choose one image, and write a brief article about it.
  4. Apply: Apply what you’ve learned and complete the Developing a Lesson activity.
  5. Evaluate: Summarize what you’ve learned by completing the Final Concept Chart and Summary.