Social Studies and the Young Learner
The goal of Social Studies and the Young Learner is to capture and enthuse elementary teachers across the country by providing relevant and useful information about the teaching of social studies to elementary students.The teaching techniques presented are designed to stimulate the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills vital to classroom success. SSYL is published quarterly: September/October; November/December; January/February; and March/April. Members who receive SSYL also get two issues of Social Education—the May/June issue (which includes the Notable Trade Books for Young People list) and the September issue.
The current and back issues of Social Studies and the Young Learner are available online to NCSS members.
Not a Member?
Our conversation with you about “Remember The Ladies”…
The year 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Though remembered predominantly for its prohibition of discrimination based on race, it also prohibited discrimination based on sex. So this seemed like a good time to examine how teachers at the elementary level attend to issues of gender in curriculum and instruction.
The title of this issue references Abigail Adams’ famous letter to her husband, John, as he and other members of the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia worked to craft a resolution on independence from Great Britain. The title also references the fourth grade girl we saw in a classroom who participated in a teacher-created simulation, “A Tea on the Eve of the American Revolution,” as Abigail Adams. Each student had assumed the role (in costume) of a different historical figure and was charged with expressing an opinion as to whether or not America should declare its independence. This pint-sized Abigail Adams stood up and read emphatically, from her index card, words that were written 238 years ago (the antiquated spelling is retained here):I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation.1
We were certain that we had witnessed, besides the birth of a country, the birth of a feminist!
Like the role play described above, the activities and approaches described in the articles in this issue eschew “contribution” history2 and typical biographical studies during Women’s History Month of the usual suspects (Rosa Parks, Helen Keller, Harriet Tubman—all worthy of study, to be sure, but not the only women worthy of study). Instead, the authors examine less-well-known women, such as the founders of the Frontier Nursing Service and of the Girl Scouts. In addition, contributors foster connections across time with assignments that ask students to compare past and present women leaders and activists. The activities build students’ capacities to critically examine textbooks, historical fiction, picture books, photographs, and videos, so that students can assess different sources’ accuracy and fairness in their depictions of women.
Caroline C. Sheffield’s article, “Heroines on Horseback: The Frontier Nursing Service of Appalachia,” shows how fifth graders authenticated information in a book by comparing it with primary source documents, including photographs and film. The subject of study was Mary Breckinridge, founder of the Frontier Nursing Service of Eastern Kentucky, who improved the health and well-being of people of Appalachia through her personal and organizational efforts.
Sarah E. Montgomery, Erica M. Christie, and Jessica Staudt’s piece, “Rethinking Women’s History Month to Inspire Civic Action,” brings the study of biographies into the 21st century. They describe a project in which fourth graders created innovative digital biographies about, and made connections among, past and present women who made and continue to make a difference. In an article “Images of Women in American History,” followed by a Pullout, Linda B. Bennett and Frances Janeene Williams highlight the importance using of images of women in the classroom. They provide images and websites depicting women from varied backgrounds in common and uncommon roles; in addition, they share questions, activities, and assessment ideas to guide inquiry-based instruction using the images. The Pullout provides pairs of photographs from three periods of American history, along with discussion questions, for students to use in the classroom.
Mary Cushman’s piece, “Scouting Out a Progressive Role Model,” is a review of Here Come the Girl Scouts!—The Amazing All-True Story of Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low and Her Great Adventure. This 2013 NCSS Notable Social Studies Trade Book relates the life of the founder of the Girl Scouts, who put her progressive belief—that girls from all backgrounds could do anything—into practice.
Pamela Cruz, Director of the National Historic Preservation Center, Girl Scouts of the USA in New York City, offers “Girls Scouts: Examining Two Photos from the Early Years” as a handout for students to look at and discuss.
Sarah Lewis Philpott’s piece, “Girls Like Us: Looking at History through the American Girl Series,” shows how a historical fiction series about the lives of girls in different eras prompted fourth grade students to ask questions about women’s history, motivated them to read more historical works, and nurtured their historical thinking skills.
In “Where are the Women? A Classroom Inquiry into Social Studies Textbooks,” Kristy Brugar, Anne-Lise Halvorsen, and Sunshine Hernandez share their upper elementary social science inquiry lesson in which students investigated the representation of women in their textbook and discussed what they found, or did not find.
Sociologist Michael Kimmel explains, “Our gendering experiences begin even before we get to school…we are learning more than our ABCs, more than spelling, math, and science, more than physics and literature. We learn, and teach one another, what it means to be men and women.”3 Which begs the question: How do YOU address issues of gender and women’s history in your classroom?
Whose story gets told in your classroom? With what materials? In what ways are you introducing women’s lives, experiences, and perspectives?
To what extent do you study women outside of Women’s History Month?
How successful are you at getting beyond the familiar pantheon of women who made a difference?
To what extent do the boys in your class read about women in history?
To what extent do you use, and have students seek to authenticate, historical fiction in studying the roles of women in history?
To what extent do you examine stories of extraordinary ordinary women who worked, or work today, for political, social, and economic change?
To what extent do you employ any of the following when studying the lives of women: Oral histories? Photographs? Diaries? Letters? Videos? Speeches?
To what extent do you engage students in textbook analysis of “coverage” of women?
What women, or the movements with which they are associated, do your students find most compelling?
To what extent do you and your students engage in discussions that evaluate the progress today of girls’ and women’s rights?
We look forward to the thoughtful conversation around women’s rights and gender issues at NCSS Connections. Please join us!—Andrea and JeannetteNotes
1. Abigail Adams. “Letter to John Adams”. The Massachusetts Historical Society. (1776, March 31), www.masshist.org/publications.
2. Mary Kay Tetrault, “Rethinking Women, Gender, and the Social Studies,” Social Education no. 51 ed. (3rd) (1987), 170-178; James A. Banks, An Introduction to Multicultural Education (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1999).
3. Michael Kimmel, The Gendered Society, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford, 2004), 151.
An Invitation to Authors!
Call for Manuscripts for Social Studies and the Young Learner
If you are an enthusiastic elementary teacher or teacher educator with great ideas that you have implemented in the classroom, we invite you to share your work.
Below are descriptions of themes for some of the upcoming issues, but we also welcome pieces that do not fit these particular themes.
Social Studies at the (Common) Core
How have the instructional shifts in the common Core influenced your social studies lessons? We are seeking articles, lessons and activities that illustrate how you use the Common Core to strengthen social studies reading, writing, speaking and vocabulary.
In addition, NCSS recently released the new C3—College, Career, and Civic Life—Framework for Social Studies State Standards, and we’d like to see how elementary teachers’ lessons reflect the framework. Submission Deadline: March 15, 2014
Issue: September/October 2014
Tackling Challenging Topics
Societal changes and difficult events happen in the adult world, but they permeate children’s consciousness, as well. How do you address topics that are challenging for you and your students? We are seeking articles, lessons, activities and book reviews that reveal how you and your students grapple with tough, perhaps controversial, issues. (These articles would appear in the issue of November/December 2014.) Submission Deadline: June 15, 2014
What’s Your Best Lesson?
We have all taught lessons revolving around social studies content and concepts in which our students were firing on all cylinders. What was that lesson? What materials and activities sparked high levels of interest and critical thinking from your students? What made the lesson so successful? We are seeking articles that detail the instructional approaches, activities, and assessments of your thoughtful and engaging social studies lesson. (These articles would appear in the issue of January/February 2015.) Submission Deadline: August 15, 2014
For each issue, we would like to include a book review that may or may not be related to the theme. Have you recently read a piece of children’s literature or a book written for teachers that you would like to review? Have you implemented any of the NCSS Notable Books into your curriculum? Tell us about it!
Please contact the co-editors at email@example.com if you have any questions or ideas you would like to share.
Andrea S. Libresco, Ed.D.
Graduate Director of Elementary Education
Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership
Social Studies Coordinator
Garden City School District
Guidelines for Contributors to SSYL
The goal of Social Studies and the Young Learner is to a) capture and enthuse elementary teachers across the country; and b) provide relevant and useful information about the teaching of social studies to elementary students. The editor especially encourages submission of manuscripts authored by K-5 classroom teachers themselves, or co-authored by professors and classroom teachers.
E-mail your manuscript directly to the co-editors: Andrea S. Libresco, Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY), and Jeannette Balantic, Gardin City Public Schools (Garden City, NY), at firstname.lastname@example.org. Expect an acknowledgement of receipt within a week. Manuscripts submitted for a particular theme issue are due four months prior to publication. Final decisions are usually made within one year.
The first page should contain the title, word count, and contact information for all authors: name, title, position, complete mailing address, e-mail, phone, and fax. Identify the lead and/or corresponding author. The authors' names should appear only on this page for purposes of blind peer review.
Include a statement that the manuscript has not been submitted or published elsewhere. The second page should begin with the title and start the main text. With regard to citation notes, follow The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993) as closely as possible (not APA style). See examples of notes in the journal.
Margins: 1 inch top and bottom and 1.25 inch sides
Font: 12-point, Times New Roman
Length: Double Space, 1000 - 3000 words
Images and Examples
Follow up your e-mailed submission by mailing photocopies of examples of student work and learning, if possiblewriting, photos of projects, art, or other media. Submit tables, graphics, photos, etc. as separate files by e-mail, not embedded in the text. If the manuscript is accepted, we will request high-resolution image files or glossy prints. Please set your digital camera at high resolution. Authors must obtain parental permission allowing publication of photos of students, as well as permission for the reprint of copyrighted materials used in a lesson.
SSYL is peer reviewed. If a manuscript is considered for publication, the author must be willing to work with the editor on revisions. SSYL is published by the National Council for the Social Studies.
Authors of published manuscripts receive up to 50 complimentary copies of the journal in which the article appears, courtesy of NCSS. Authors are not paid for contributions.
Please feel free to contact the editor by e-mail if you have a question at any time.
SSYL co-editor Andrea S. Libresco, Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY) and SSYL co-editor Jeannette Balantic, Gardin City Public Schools (Garden City, NY), at email@example.com.
Tips for AuthorsWho May Submit an Article?
Anybody may submit an article to Social Studies and the Young Learner. The editors especially look for manuscripts co-authored by classroom teachers and professors, or authored by K-5 classroom teachers alone.
What are Good Topics?
Articles in Social Studies and the Young Learner show how social studies (history, geography, civics, economics, anthropology, etc.) is taught in the pre-K-6 classroom. The lead article often provides background on the theme for that issue. A children’s literature piece describes how to use quality books in the classroom. A pullout usually includes a lesson with handouts.
How Will My Paper Be Judged?
This checklist shows the features that editors and reviewers will be watching for. Read your own paper against this checklist.
- I have described the basic setting (grade level, time required to teach each activity, materials and resources needed)
- The social studies content is strong (students learn history, civics, geography, economics, or anthropology, etc.) See the themes I-X in Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
- I have included examples of classroom experience (what students said, how they responded, and pedagogical pitfalls that arose and how to avoid them)
- I have included examples of young students’ work (writing, art, quotes, photos of students in action)
- Other teachers could use these ideas and methods (Can this lesson or activity be applied to other classrooms, in other states, with a low budget, and with a reasonable commitment of time and materials?)
- There is a clear assessment of student learning. (How is student learning measured at end of the lesson? Are discussion questions or test questions included?)
- I have linked the subject matter in my paper to state and national content standards and to the required curriculum of my school for this grade level.
- I have avoided using the passive voice.
Right: The teacher corrects and grades the papers. Wrong: Papers are corrected and graded by the teacher.
- I follow the the Chicago style handbook for notes, and do not use Endnote or Reference Manager programs.
- My notes follow this style-
BOOKS: Alfie Kohn, What to Look For in a Classroom (San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass, 1998), 45.
ARTICLES: Bruce E. Larson, "The Makah: Exploring Public Issues During a Structured Classroom Discussion,"
Social Studies and the Young Learner 10, no. 1 (September/October 1997): 10-13.
WEBSITES: "Creating the United States," (Library of Congress), myloc.gov/exhibitions/creatingtheus.
- When citing online resources, I recommend specific, student-friendly websites, avoiding Wikipedia and Google.
- I kept my reading audience in mind. (Will classroom teachers, who are the primary audience of SSYL, eagerly read this from start to finish? Will they find it useful to their actual practice?)
Ask a colleague to read your paper and check it for grammar, organization, and writing style.
Who, When, and How?
Be sure to follow the basic advice found at the “Guide” tab to Social Studies and the Young Learner when you format text, type references, shoot photographs, write a cover letter, and submit your manuscript.
Feel free to contact the co-editors:
SSYL co-editor Andrea S. Libresco, Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY) and SSYL co-editor Jeannette Balantic, Gardin City Public Schools (Garden City, NY), at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conference Archives provide handouts and other materials given out at recent sessions on "best practices in the elementary grades" at NCSS Annual Conferences. (For journal back issues, click the Publications Archive link at www.socialstudies.org/publications.)
2010 NCSS Annual Conference Best Practices
How Elementary Teachers Teach for Transformative Citizenship [Powerpoint, pptx]
Sherry L. Field, University of Texas at Austin, Antonio J. Castro, University of Missouri-Columbia
CHILDREN AS ADVOCATES AROUND THE WORLD: Service Learning with “Third Culture Kids” [Powerpoint, pptx]
Living in the Global Village: Strategies for Teaching Mental Flexibility [Powerpoint, pptx]
Dr. Carol McNulty, Dr. MaryAnn Davies, Ms. Mary Maddoux, University of North Carolina Wilmington
Structuring the Curriculum Around Big Ideas [Powerpoint, pptx]
Janet Alleman, Barbara Knighton, and Jere Brophy
We Are The Future: We Are Agents of Change! [Powerpoint, pptx]
Jill Stepanian, Shady Brook Elementary
Tracy Rock, UNC Charlotte
2009 NCSS Annual Conference Best Practices
Count Me IN! Census and Economic Sustainability
Linda Bennett, University of Missouri
Classroom Practices and Applications
Paul Nagel, Northwestern State University
It's about Us: 2010 Census in Schools [powerpoint]
Patricia Dillon Watson, Census in Schools, U.S. Census Bureau
Federal Resources for the Classroom [powerpoint]
Mary C. Suiter, Ph.D.
St. Louis Federal Reserve
2008 NCSS Annual Conference Best PracticesWelcome to the Digital Classroom [URL]
Linda Bennett, Barbara Jamison & Michelle Nebel
Google Earth: A Virtual Globe for Elementary Geography [pdf]
Google Earth [powerpoint]
Judy Gritt and Gus La Fontaine
PBS Presentation [powerpoint]
2007 NCSS Annual Conference Best Practices in Elementary Geography
The World in Spatial Terms: Mapmaking and Map Reading
Gale Ekiss & Judy Philips
Using The Great Mail Race to Learn About Communities (PowerPoint)
Shelli Jukel, Jill Strong, & Janna Hannon
Developmentally Appropriate Geography (PowerPoint)
Le Vieux Carre: A Marketplace Approach to the Standards (PowerPoint)
A is for Aerial Maps and Art (PowerPoint)
Larry Littrell & Reese H. Todd
2006 NCSS Annual Conference Best Practices in Elementary Social Studies
Best Practice in Elementary Social Studies from the SSYL Editorial Board
(PowerPoint includes Groce & Knightons presentations)
Authenticating Historical Fiction: Rationale & ProcessEric Groce
Supporting Struggling Learners in Social StudiesBarb Knighton
Mrs. Knightons Classroom Goals (Word Document)
Community Building (Word Document)
Co-Constructing (Word Document)
Traditional Social Studies ProgramsExpanding Communities Sequence (Word Document)
What Makes an Effective S.S. Program Tick?Kimberly Pearre (PowerPoint)
The co-editors of SSYL are Andrea S. Libresco, Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY) and Jeannette Balantic, Garden City Public Schools (Garden City, NY). Contact them at email@example.com.
Janet Alleman, Michigan State University (MI)
Mary Fortney, The Children's Museum of Indianapolis (IN)
Jesus Garcia, University of Nevada--Las Vegas (NV)
Eric Groce, Appalachian State University (NC)
Lynda A. Herrera, Marymount University (VA)
Elizabeth R. Hinde, Arizona State University (AZ)
Tim Keiper, Western Washington University (WA)
Barbara Knighton, Winans Elementary School (MI)
Paul Nagel, Northwestern State University (LA)
Kim D. O'Neil, Liverpool Elementary School (NY)
Ellen Santora, University of Rochester (NY)
Alan Singer, Hofstra University (NY)
Cynthia Tyson, The Ohio State University (OH)
Patricia D. Watson, Educational Consultant (DC)