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.
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Our conversation with you about “He had a Dream”…
On August 28, 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Fifty years later, it’s worth thinking about what children should know, beyond the memorable lines from the iconic speech, about struggles for equality and justice in America.
The speech is memorable for good reason. It brought King and his message of non-violence to a nationwide (and worldwide) audience. It was part of the March on Washington, where over 250,000 people gathered in the nation’s capital, bringing greater attention to the Civil Rights Movement. It’s no accident that the speech was delivered at the Lincoln Memorial, as King reminded Americans that, on the one hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, there was much work yet to be done on racial equality in America, work that would require the force of the federal government. Indeed, the speech made Congress and the President move faster on the Civil Rights Act, which passed the following year in 1964.
But it is also possible to focus too much on the one speech and miss the importance of the courageous work of thousands that led up to and followed the speech. Presidents don’t tend to take stands in opposition to entrenched powers without extensive pressure from the populace. We are reminded of the story about black labor leader A. Philip Randolph meeting with President Franklin Roosevelt. Randolph described to FDR the condition of black people, of working people in America. Reportedly, FDR listened, then replied, “I agree with everything you have said. Now, make me do it.”
In addition, it is worthwhile to examine the linkages between the problems of prejudice and discrimination that King spoke of in the 1963 speech, and the triple evils of Racism, Poverty and Militarism that he began to speak of two years later. How often do our national celebrations of, and classroom discussions on, King’s birthday focus on the latter two issues? For example, how relevant in 2013 are the words from his speech at Riverside Church in New York, on April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination in Memphis, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”?
The articles in this issue all eschew a facile “What’s your dream?” approach. Authors present lessons and materials that examine lesser-known parts of the speech, other defenders of justice (well known and lesser known), as well as a variety of perspectives on the nature of justice.
In her article “Reading Closely and Discussing the ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech,” Elizabeth S. Brown highlights the importance of an in-depth examination of the language of lesser-known parts of King’s famous speech as a vehicle for connecting historical circumstances and current conditions of discrimination. In a sidebar, Susan Goetz Zwern briefly reviews the picture book I Have a Dream, illustrated the Kadir Nelson.
In “Bringing Civil Rights Figures to the ‘Peace Table,’” Mary Ledbetter, Sherry L. Field, and Michelle Bauml demonstrate that ten and eleven year olds can come to the classroom Peace Table as civil rights characters, representing different perspectives, and engage in thoughtful discussions.
Shari Dorfman and Ruth Rosenberg’s piece, “Empowering Our Students to Make a More Just World,” shows how a unit of study on picture book biographies about “Defenders of Justice” can help fifth graders understand that those who fought for equal rights over our country’s history included women and men of varied backgrounds, ethnicities, and creeds.
“Somebody Had to Do It: School Desegregation Stories, 1954-63” is a brief description by Millicent E.Brown of her work to gather the memories of those who participated in the struggle to integrate public schools following the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. The Pullout, “Millicent’s Story: School Desegregation in South Carolina, 1963,” is Dr. Brown’s recollection of her own experience, at age fifteen, of being one of the eleven African American students in South Carolina to integrate formerly all-white public schools. Students can read for themselves this narrative, which is presented in a large typeface.
Ryan Hughes’ article, “Why Historical Fiction Writing? Helping Students Think Rigorously and Creatively,” shows how a thorough study of historical fiction picture books on the civil rights movement can help third graders compose their own original, content-rich stories.
Mary Battenfeld’s book review, “Round and Round Together: The Civil Rights Movement Comes to an Amusement Park,” chronicles the years-long struggle to desegregate Gwynn Oak Amusement Park, near Baltimore, Maryland. The book’s author, Amy Nathan, relates a lesser-known, though nonetheless extraordinary, example of the fight for racial equality during the 1950–60s.
Black leader and intellectual W. E. B. DuBois memorably said, “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.” Unfortunately, the problem is still with us in the twenty-first century and begs some questions about how the next generation is being educated about it. Perhaps these questions can frame grade level or faculty meetings:
• How do you help your students to understand the distinctions between prejudice and discrimination? Between civil disobedience and criminal law-breaking? Between being willing to die for a cause and being willing to kill for a cause?
• To what extent do you focus on the role of the federal government in effecting change with respect to civil rights? On the role of individual citizens?
• Have you ever used excerpts from other eloquent King speeches; e.g., Riverside Church speech in 1967: “Drum Major for Justice,” given just before his death in 1968? How do students’ reactions to those speeches differ from their reactions to his 1963 “I have a Dream” speech?
• To what extent have you examined struggles for civil rights in the North?
• Are there fights for injustice that you would not address at the elementary level? Why?
• To what extent do you examine stories of “extraordinary, ordinary people” who fought, and continue to fight, against injustice?
• To what extent do you employ oral histories when studying civil rights?
• To what extent do you use newspaper articles of the time when studying civil rights?
• What perspectives do you think need to be added to your classroom to provide a more complete picture of struggles for civil rights in America?
• To what extent do you have your students write historical fiction? How much time do you devote to the process?
We look forward to the thoughtful conversation around struggles for rights at NCSS Connected. Please join us!
—Andrea and Jeannette
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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)