Social Studies

How to Help All Students with Evidence-based Reading and Writing During an Inquiry Activity

"In this article, I describe an instructional process to help students be successful when they read online sources in order to investigate and answer inquiry questions. The focus question used here, How can social harmony be best achieved in online spaces in Singapore?, frames a learning activity designed for the Singapore Upper Secondary Social Studies curriculum. There are four online sources for this activity. The sources represent different perspectives and solutions to achieve social harmony in online spaces in Singapore. The instructional process for this activity has six key components: 1. Establish a clear inquiry purpose; 2. Introduce learning activity; 3. Activate prior knowledge; 4. Select engaging sources; 5. Design learning scaffolds; 6. Guide synthesis and writing. "

The Notables: Making Significant Historical Personalities Come Alive

"The study of significant people in history can be an engaging, meaningful, and integrated learning experience for upper primary school students. In this article I describe a project, The Notables, which immersed my Grade 4 students in a series of social studies and language arts activities designed to help them understand the concept of significance, learn about historical people and events, and develop important research and presentation skills."

Magic Words: Writing as a Tool for Learning in the Humanities

"Writing can be a powerful tool for learning in the Humanities. When used well, it helps students clarify their thoughts in a quick, simple way, and it provides teachers with ready insight into how students are making sense of content. Writing is also a natural way to engage students who have a wide range of achievement levels, for it allows different students to participate in the same activity in different ways. Perhaps most importantly, it places control of learning in the hands of students themselves, so that they have a chance to construct their own ideas instead of simply reproducing what they encounter from teachers, texts, or other sources. When used this way, most students write easily and naturally. "

Authentic Assessment in Social Studies

"A holistic assessment plan should address the full range of goals including attitudes, values, and dispositions along with knowledge and skills. Different assessment tools (provided as an attachment) might be more or less appropriate at different stages of learning. However, the unit’s assessment components should build toward authentic applications. Currently, teachers are faced with many obligations, responsibilities, new initiatives, and challenges. Many of these are prompted by changes in the curriculum and high stakes testing. It follows, however, that if the teacher’s assessment plan for students matches the curricular goals and is multi-faceted – and if the results are used to inform planning and modify instruction, student performance on standard measures will be positively affected and teacher accountability will no longer be in jeopardy."

“Their Minds Must Be Improved to a Certain Degree”: A Learning Cycles Approach to Inquiry

"The central idea of this article is that inquiry is not only an instructional method, it is also a curriculum objective. It is important in its own right. Teaching students to inquire—to arrive at well-supported claims using evidence and reason—is what education is mainly for."

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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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