What is social studies?

Trite as it may be, starting the school year off with a lesson that answers this essential question always seems critical. I was quite pleased with my lesson (well…more pleased 3rd period than 8th….) though I may have been overzealous about the amount of information I shoved into the lesson.

  1. Students used Tag Galaxy (a fabulous Web 2.0 tool that allows users to see connections between tagged Flickr photos) to get their brains thinking about topics they might study in social studies.
    • By entering “social studies” and viewing the photos, students were able to report that they would learn about wars, cultures, different countries, politics, geography, and many other topics.
  2. I read students the following definition of social studies from the National Council for the Social Studies: Social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence.WhatisSS
    • I asked students to use a dictionary.com to look up the following terms: integrated, social sciences, humanities  and civic competence (check out the graphic organizer below).
    • Students shared their definitions and were better able to understand that “Social studies is the combined study of human society, social behavior, literature, philosophy, etc. to promote good citizenship.”
    • A quick thumbs up/thumbs down check confirmed that this alternative definition was easier to understand.
  3. Students then viewed a matrix of social studies skills and volunteered examples of skills required to be successful in social studies (item number two shows a small selection of the skills).
  4. Finally, students worked in small group so to create a graffiti poster answer the essential question, “What is social studies?”

I know this was copious amounts of information to fit into one 44 minute period. I was really proud of the students for keeping up and moving deftly between activities. I am hopeful that they will retain this learning for tomorrow, but we’ll see what happens!

1. Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 4.17.38 PM

2. Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 4.18.22 PM

 

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