Social Studies

Teaching Place, “Placing” the Learner: Understanding the Geographies of Place

"In this paper, I underscore the importance of “placing” the learner, or allowing them to engage in place-based learning activities to understand the concept of place. This is in support of arguments that hold place as open and fluid. Such a view of place is particularly relevant in this globalized age where transnationality characterizes many of our social relations. I draw on a place-based class activity that I did with my AAG10D (Singapore in Asia) students at the National Institute of Education (NIE) in Singapore in 2016 to emphasize the importance of place-based activities and their implications for understanding the geography of place. We focused on two translocal places in Singapore - Clarke Quay and Lucky Plaza - which are widely held as places for, respectively, expatriates and low-waged migrant workers. Such an activity allows students to experience the social interactions and processes that make up a place, and to recognize that place is not simply a location of things nor a container of human activities. Finally, I suggest that placing learners equips geography students with basic disciplinary knowledge that challenges them to think about being-in-the-world, which is what (human) geography is about."

Immigration, Population, and Foreign Workforce in Singapore: An Overview of Trends, Policies, and Issues

"Immigration has been a “hot button” issue in Singapore in recent years. This paper provides an overview of the key policies, trends, and issues relating to immigration, population, and foreign workforce in the city-state. The paper begins by looking at Singapore’s current immigration landscape, and then examines the city-state’s foreign manpower regime, which constitutes the institutional foundation for immigration to Singapore. The highly intertwined immigration and foreign labour policies are then explained along two fundamental underlying dimensions – economy and demography. The paper ends by looking at local grassroots society’s reactions to the influx of immigrants in recent times, and the ways in which the Singapore government has since tried to address such concerns."

Using an International Videoconference in Problem-Based Inquiry Projects: The Role of Public Voice, Audience, and Positionality

"This article discusses and reflects upon a problem-based inquiry project that culminated in an international videoconference between multiethnic and multi-faith secondary students from Macedonia and the United States. The videoconference provided an opportunity for students to share their action plans, which proposed methods of addressing local problems or issues students had identified through their inquiry. This article focuses on three ways students engaged with the project and videoconference: inquiry, audience, and public voice. These aspects of the project illustrate how the students’ positionality on their chosen problem/issue shifted as they developed skills and knowledge through their inquiry. The article concludes with a discussion of implications for future problem-based inquiry projects in secondary schools."

The Elected Presidency

"Scheduled for September, the coming presidential election is one of the most anticipated public events of 2017. While the populations of larger democratic countries have to contend with numerous regional and local elections that may cause electoral fatigue, Singaporeans get to express their democratic voice only once every two to three years. This year’s election, though, is especially anticipated by the Malay community because for the first time, the presidential election will be reserved for Malays."

Developing Conceptual Understanding in Social Studies Using Technology and Discussion

"Social studies concepts are tools for understanding our experience, the past, and the social world. They are broad, organizing ideas that can be expressed in one or two words and they are defined by key characteristics or attributes. They help us think about groups of objects, actions, people, issues, or relationships in the social world and can be applied to make sense of new situations and information that we encounter in our experience. Concepts help us learn by organizing new information and experience into mental constructs or schema. In social studies, concepts like trade-offs, identity, integration, and interdependence serve these purposes."

Diversity: Approaches to building conceptual understanding in the Social Studies classroom

"With the heightened emphasis placed on students’ understanding of core content or key concepts in the 2016 Social Studies curriculum in secondary schools, it remains of utmost interest for the social studies teacher to revisit some of the key strategies and beliefs involved in building conceptual understanding in the classroom. This pedagogy was developed to strengthen students’ understanding and appreciation of key concepts and principles while encouraging them to apply these concepts to their understanding of the world around them. This article thus seeks to explore the various pedagogical beliefs, instructional strategies and challenges that would be applicable for the classroom teacher in the conduct of the new Social Studies syllabus. For the purpose of this article, we will be touching on the concept of diversity to anchor our discussions. Having a good grasp of the key concept of diversity is an essential part of students' learning as this concept forms the building blocks for gaining a better understanding about the issue on ‘Living in a Diverse Society’."

Conceptual Teaching in Primary Social Studies: Teaching the Primary Three Reader,“Making the Little Red Dot Blue and Brown” in a Conceptual Way

"This paper looks at what conceptual teaching is about, the differences between conceptual and traditional teaching and the advantages of conceptual teaching. Different deductive and inductive approaches for teaching the big ideas of subject matter, that is, the concepts and generalisations, are described. The paper also focuses on the teaching of the primary three social studies reader entitled, “Making the Little Red Dot Blue and Brown” using some of the conceptual teaching approaches mentioned. The paper concludes with the importance of teacher subject matter knowledge in conceptual teaching."

Shifting Scales of Time and Space: Establishing Connections Across the Humanities

"Meaningful understanding of history and geography involves being able to identify and establish connections across time and space scales (An et al., 2015; Bain, 2005; Baker, 2003; Foskett, 1999). Nonetheless, one key problem in the history and geography curricula of schools today is this lack of connectivity and sense of scale. Thus, it is appropriate to find out how to help teachers and students expand their disciplinary thinking towards a more holistic (or interdisciplinary) approach that encourages them to shift scales and make connections across time and space. To answer this question, this article proposes a potential conceptual framework in which History and Geography, as interdisciplinary subjects, can conduct meaningful dialogues with each other so that students and teachers can extend their thinking to deepen their understanding of both disciplines and to identify connections across scales of time and place. This framework will be introduced through two initiatives, The Historian’s Lab (HL) and The Sustainability Learning Lab (SLL), funded by an EduLab grant, and currently being developed by the staff in the Humanities and Social Studies Education Academic Group (HSSE AG) in the National Institute of Education (NIE), (Singapore). However, it is important to note that this framework is a work-in-progress and will be further modified and developed as the project moves forward."

Using Investigation and Discussion to Inquire about Issues in Primary Social Studies

"This article begins with the inquiry teaching approach for primary social studies and the rationale for its inclusion in the 2013 syllabus by the Ministry of Education, Singapore. It compares traditional instruction and inquiry-based teaching and describes the two types of inquiry that can be implemented in the primary classroom – discussion and investigation. Three useful inquiry models for primary children - Colin Marsh’s (2001) investigation model and two discussion models - Diana Hess’ (2009) town meeting model (TMM) and David Johnson and Roger Johnson’s (1999) structured academic model (SAC) - are elaborated. The application of these models is illustrated in two issue-based, inquiry centred packages designed for primary children by student teachers from the National Institute of Education. The article also discusses the challenges teachers may face when implementing such inquiry-centred packages and suggests ways of how they can be overcome. "

Learning about Issues through Discussion in the Primary Social Studies Classroom: A Shared Inquiry Approach

"This article looks at how primary school children can learn about issues in their social studies lessons through discussion. It first spells out the importance of introducing issues in the social studies curriculum for the development of students to be informed, participative and concerned citizens. It focuses on the selection of suitable issues for primary school children and discussion as a pedagogy for shared inquiry to help teachers achieve academic understanding and citizenship outcomes for their learners. The Walsh and Sattes’ (2015) framework for quality discussion is described as a useful guide for teacher planning and implementation. Research findings on teacher belief and practice of using discussion of controversial issues and the implications on teacher professional development are also discussed. The article concludes with how to be skilful in the facilitation of discussion of issues for shared inquiry."

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An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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