Maybe because I'm trying to save my students from feeling the boredom I felt. Now that I'm teaching, social studies one of my favorites! Since our district doesn't provide much social studies professional development, I just don't feel the same pressure teaching it as I feel with Math, Reading, Writing, and now even Science. In Massachusetts in fourth grade, there is no standardized Social Studies test. No Common Core Social Studies Standards. And our text books are over 30 years old, so the attitude in my district is "Just do the best you can." So although I have content to cover, I pretty much have creative freedom when it comes to how I teach it!
Why isn't Social Studies Professional Development a priority?
The downside to there being so much accountability in other subjects is that there has been very little social studies professional development. It's nice to have the pressure off, but it got me wondering, "Besides those of us in my district, how many other teachers are troubled by this deficit? How many other teachers are on their own to find creative new ways to teach Social Studies?" So that's why I decided to start a mini series of blog posts on how I teach Social Studies, and more specifically, the U. S. regions. Here are some of the topics I'll be exploring in greater detail:
Your Social Studies Professional Development
1. Although there are different ways to split up the U.S., we teach 5 regions (Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West).5. Make learning cumulative and build on prior knowledge. Spiral back to prior learning of each region once you move on to newer regions.
2. Cover the concepts of Natural Resources, Products, Landforms, Landmarks, historic roots, and forms of recreation for each region. As the year goes on we introduce related concepts such as bodies of water, economy, climate, conservation (here is a sneak peak of how I cover these concepts my Southeast Region unit).
3. Integrate content area research with ELA standards. Since we have such a short school day, we are always encouraged to have use an ELA standard and content area standard in the development of our units.
4. Integrate the arts. Visual art and performance art make learning fun and help information stick with the kids!
6. Use games to review information.
7. Make real world connections between information researched and what students have observed in your region with projects.
Am I right? Have you received social studies professional development in any of these topics other than #3? If you teach the regions, what are your favorite and least favorite topics?
Shut the Door and Teach
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