Meaningful Social Studies

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 3 January 2017

Meaningful Social Studies

The democratic principles and ideals of citizenship reinforces effective social studies. By focusing on rights, responsibilities, and respect, a solid base of social studies knowledge and skills develops civic competence. The foundation of four core disciplines, or strands, from the social sciences are: geography, civics, economics, and history. They are the Louisiana framework for social studies. Each of these disciplines offers a distinct perspective for examining the world. Within these strands, other social sciences, such as anthropology and sociology, are incorporated. §103. Louisiana Content Standards Foundation Skills

The Louisiana Content Standards Task Force has developed the following foundational skills which should apply to all students in all disciplines: Communication, Problem Solving, Resource Access and Utilization, and Linking and Generating Knowledge. Through research, activities, discussions, and real-life experiences, children can and will learn that diversity can be positive and socially enriching. A pluralistic perspective involves students’ building unbiased, open-minded views towards diversity among their fellow human beings. Teachers of this generation have the combined blessing and challenge of helping students make the most of a world that is rapidly changing. Students must develop the perspective that cultural and philosophical differences are necessary and desirable qualities of a democratic community (NCSS, 1994).

I chose the concept of “Problem Solving” for Grade 6-8th in which I will be teaching in the near future. Problem solving identify an obstacle or challenge and uses the application of knowledge and thinking processes which include reasoning, decision making, and inquiry in order to reach a solution using multiple pathways, even when no routine path is apparent. Bringing students into contact with other people’s various views and conflicting values is very important. In the school and local community, therefore, problem solving/inquiry problems are most often found. Questioning and cooperative learning are two strategies that are frequently used to support meaningful learning.

Questioning. This is where all learning begins. The types of questions teachers use guide students’ engagement in the lesson (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000). The amount of time a teacher waits between asking questions and calling on students for responses, or responding to answers, affects student responses (Rowe, 1996). On average, teachers wait less than a second before calling on a student or responding to a student’s comment, this has been proven by classroom research. If the teacher wait 3 or more seconds before calling on a student or acknowledging a response, this can increase the length of student responses, the number of appropriate responses, and the cognitive level of the responses.

Questions should be planned in advance, relate to the lesson activities, and are written into lesson plans. The Learning cycle lessons begin with questions that all students have a chance to answer. All answers are accepted by the teacher even though some answers may explain more than others. In the class such questions engaged by all of the students. In every learning cycle a central key question is planned for the exploratory phase. In a lesson focusing on the concept of presidential elections, for example, the teacher may ask the key question “What do you have to do to be elected president?” This is an open question that involves each student in thinking about the main idea of the lesson. Development phase, questions focusing student inquiry on the main concepts, skills, and attitudes of the lesson is done during the lesson. During the lesson development, many questions are narrow or closed. Questions are used to help students apply the concept in a new context, during the expansion phase of the lesson. On open questions, the emphasis is greater although some closed questions may be used.

Effects of Emphasizing Student Control

What students learn is influenced by how they are taught, the quality of individual and social processes occurring in the classroom, and the perceptions and understanding of social studies as a subject to be taught and learned (NCSS, 1994b).

Matching Instructional Strategies to Student Needs

One aim of education is to help students be self-directing (NCSS, 1994a, pp. 11–12). The amount of student control during the learning process, is a key factor. The categories, in order from least to greatest student control, are expository, guided discovery, and inquiry and problem solving/decision making. An appropriate instructional strategy is chosen by the teacher that matches the student’s level of social studies content, skill, attitudinal objectives, and developmental needs. These instructional methods are very effective and appropriate in helping students attain a particular level of learning objective.

Expository, or Direct, Instructional Methods: Lower Student Control

Students are provided with little control over the direction or extent of the learning process using the Expository instructional methods, or direct instruction method. Activity lessons using expository methods include the following characteristics: * The teacher controls the situation, providing adequate directions and motivation. The teacher provides ample opportunities to practice the skill in a wide variety of situations. * The teacher supplies immediate and continuous feedback focusing on correct answers. * The teacher uses lecture and closed, narrow questions to control the learning situation but must provide extensive and adequate directions for the student.

Expository Guided Inquiry/Problem Solving Discovery and Decision Making

Expository methods require external motivation and careful classroom management. Only lower levels of learning: recall and memorization are produced by these methods. Development of the affective areas of attending and willingness to receive information is facilitated by Expository methods. These methods are occasionally useful in the lesson development phase of the learning cycle in which the teacher explains the key idea of the lesson and the lesson focus involves the need for recall (Rosenshine, 1986). Guided Discovery Instructional Methods: Mixed Teacher and Student Control

Students are involved in activities related to a concept and form an understanding of them when using guided discovery instructional methods before they are offered or explained by the teacher. A problem to investigate is created by the teacher and he/or she determines procedures and materials needed, but students collect and analyze data and evaluate the results as they relate to the problem. Guided discovery has four characteristics. 1. Students are provided with the time and opportunity to study relationships in data and form a new idea. 2. Students use several activities focusing on one concept, generalization, value, or skill. 3. Students’ main role is to investigate and discover answers to the questions posed, discussing and displaying data to do so.

4. The teacher provides directions and asks questions that help students begin activities with the learned resources selected.

From data students can learn inquiry skills such as inferring, predicting, organizing, interpreting, and draw conclusions. Inquiry and Problem-Solving/Decision-Making Instructional Methods: Greater Student Control

Inquiry involving significant student control over the direction the lesson takes, is the third social studies instructional method. The Students create a problem to investigate, determine procedures and materials needed, collect and analyze data, and evaluate results. These lessons have five characteristics: 1. Students are competent in basic social studies inquiry skills. 2. Students select problem areas to investigate.

3. Students work in groups, orally reporting the results of investigations. 4. The teacher guides students in defining the problem to investigate and in helping to identify resources.

5. A safe and supportive classroom environment is maintained. Activities using the Inquiry method are intrinsically motivating because students direct their own learning. A first-grader even is likely to use higher thought processes during an inquiry. For example, a young student’s social studies project could involve making a drawing showing where items in her personal materials basket (scissors, glue stick, crayons, etc.) should be placed. After the student lists three or more problems with the basket, such as the glue stick always falling over, the drawing is made. This allows the student to ask questions, communicate information, make inferences, and build prediction. Facts may form the basic content of the narrative, when writing stories about the experience, but students also often make inferences and construct generalizations.

In inquiry and problem-solving/decision-making method activities, students are involved in practicing the full range of inquiry skills. Key social studies ideas and skills are carefully selected and is needed because inquiry methods reduce the amount of material covered to a greater extent than other instructional methods. Meaningful learning of generalizations and higher-order inquiry skills, as well as improved long-term memory and transfer of learning, occurs. Problem solving and decision making is what inquiry focuses on mainly. Students plan how they can participate and work together (Dunfee & Sagl, 1967; Meyerson & Secules, 2001).


By building on a core of effective practices in teaching and by designing activities and lessons with learning objectives in place, teachers encourage students to use their strengths and to respond successfully to challenges. They support students as active learners in meaningful activities. Focusing on helping young students identify multiple perspectives on issues and problems is a major learning outcome related to global issues. So also is discussing what are good and positive actions, moral positions, and appropriate behaviors.


Research & Evaluation Strategies for Early Childhood Education. Research In Early Childhood
Education in Handbook Research on the Education of Younger Children. Springer (2007). Retrieved from$3A2F%2F%
Social Studies Content Standards – Division of Adminstration
Sunal-Szymanski, C. & Haas, M.E. Social Studies for the Elementary & Middle Grades:
A Constructive Approach, (4th Ed.). Published by Allyn & Bacon copyright (2011) by
Pearson Education, Inc.
The Evolving Role of Teachers In Effective Schools in Springer International Handbooks of
Education: International Handbooks of School Effectiveness and Improvement.


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  • University/College: University of California

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 3 January 2017

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