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Elementary Social Studies

Contributors: Barbara Knighton, Waverly Community Schools, and Elizabeth Heilman, Michigan State University

Tools: Description:
Tool: Co-constructing learning materials This tool explains the value of working with the students to co-create posters and other learning materials. It presents a chart to help a teacher make optimal use of this teaching strategy.
Tool: Planning social studies instruction This tool features a chart that can be used to help an elementary teacher identify her/his social studies goals prior to laying out the year's units and lessons.
Tool: Planning units around Big Ideas This tool explains the importance of building units around Big Ideas and presents a planning chart to support this strategy.
Tool: Tracking student learning with standards This tool presents a chart and an example of how teachers can break down a complex learning standard and track when each part is addressed in class and which students need additional help with that standard.
Tool: What makes a good social studies unit topic? This tool helps you explore the main aspects of a good social studies unit and to evaluate its worthiness.


Resources: Description:
Developing social studies goals, concepts, objectives and standards This resource helps you understand the differences between concepts, goals and objectives.
Discussing difficult topics in social studies This resource urges elementary teachers to anticipate controversial discussions that may arise in social studies. It provides a list of questions to help the teacher handle such discussions in a professional manner.
Establishing classroom rules using social studies benchmarks This resource shows elementary teachers how to teach some of the civics-related social studies benchmarks while developing their classroom rules.
Expanding mental challenges in elementary social studies This resource uses a 2nd-grade unit on clothing to exemplify how elementary teachers can build varied levels of mental challenges into their social studies units.
Family inquiry projects This resource presents inquiry projects that can help a teacher get to know her/his students and their families.
Ideas for teaching history to elementary students This resource presents many effective ways to engage your students in history.
Meaningful social studies homework This resource argues for the use of homework assignments that promote personal reflection as well as student-family communication.
Organizing student information This resource presents a template for gathering useful information about your students and their families.
Planning field trips This resource presents guidelines for getting the maximum educational value out of class field trips.
Planning for multiple learning styles in elementary social studies This resource illustrates how to plan a unit to best serve the varied learning styles that children bring into the social studies classroom.
Planning LACPS: Lessons, activities, centers and projects This resource presents the main components of planning social studies lessons.
Putting yourself into the lessons This resource suggests ways for a teacher to build her/his ideas, artifacts and personal experiences into social studies lessons.
Sample writing assignment rubric This resource shows how a rubric can be used to evaluate an elementary social studies writing assignment.
Using class projects to communicate with families This resource invites users to ponder why elementary students seldom seem to talk about their classroom learning when they go home. It presents a method of selecting classroom projects that can be used to open up a school-family dialogue.
Using trade books in social studies This resource provides thoughtful guidelines on how to choose and use trade books to supplement social studies lessons.