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Designing your ideal social studies graduate

We hope that your school gives you opportunities and encouragement to do your unit planning with your colleagues. If not, we hope that you and your mentor or mentee will collaborate in this most important and challenging work.

Before you begin, you may want to take 30 minutes to probe the commonalities and differences in your overall goals for your social studies program. A good way to do this is to each take a piece of paper and sketch out what you see as your ideal social studies graduate (either in words, pictures or both). Begin by imagining that a cohort of students went through your district for 13 years and did everything the teachers asked them to do in social studies. What should they look like when they graduate? That is, what knowledge, habits, attitudes and skills should they have acquired? For example, a drawing might show a student with large arm muscles built by carrying the latest history book that they have been reading, or the creator might have labeled a "Solomon-like mind" that can get to the bottom of a dispute and find a solution that pleases all concerned parties. Or maybe this ideal student is open-minded because s/he is able to meet and work with people of all ages and cultural groups.

By comparing and evaluating each other's ideas, you will be able to identify some common assumptions that will serve you well as you plan your year and your units. You should also be able to clarify your own goals for the students and to remind yourself of why you decided to become a social studies teacher in the first place.