Redefining Instructional Materials:
Social Science 2000 Connections, Challenges, Choices

A collaborative effort began in 1993 between the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) and Decision Development Corporation (DDC), author and publisher of Science 2000 and Ancient World 2000, to develop and publish K-8 social studies instructional materials that implement Connections, Challenges, Choices (CCC), the Florida Social Studies Program of Study. These materials were also to have national viability as a stand-alone, technology-based social studies curriculum. The project partners assembled a design team of nationally recognized experts in social studies content, pedagogy, and learning theory. This team, with the DDC social studies, technology, and product experts, met to examine and delineate learning/teaching scenarios, the scope of the content, and the program components that would enable teachers and students to implement a multimedia, technology-supported, non-textbook based curriculum.
The completed K-8 product— Social Science 2000 Connections, Challenges, Choices—is a vast
software database of lesson plans, student investigations and simulations, videodisc imagery, motion video, audiotapes, maps, Cobblestone magazines, literature (fiction and nonfiction), information (such as biographies of past and present historical figures), links to career options, and other resources. (These non-basal core materials can be purchased with textbook funds in Florida.)

Social Studies Content

During the primary years, students interact with these materials to explore families of the world—near and far. Focusing on the
concept of culture, they investigate families from the United States, Japan, Nigeria, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and Germany. Students use folktales, fables, and stories about other children and the rich database of audio and visual images to learn about other people and places including how people meet basic needs, their relationship with their environments, and what, how, and why they celebrate. Students explore their own family histories, examine how and why people immigrate to the United States, and observe and report on the unique cultural diversity in their own communities.

During the intermediate years, students interact with the materials seeking to answer the question, “What has happened in my world, country, and state?” Using literature, primary sources, maps, etc., students investigate and answer questions about the development of their country and state. Interactive computer simulations put students in decision-making roles where they “experience” the consequences of each choice. Art, music, and literature (historical fiction and biography) add a human dimension to this historical study and help students to connect with some of the men and women who have shaped their world. Students are introduced to contemporary issues and are challenged to offer solutions to difficult problems and to recognize that they can make a difference.

During the middle school years, students interact with the material to develop broad geographic and multicultural perspectives. They systematically observe and analyze the world using the five geographic themes of location, place, human-environment interaction, movement, and region. The extensive database and multiple resources allow students to examine conflict and learn about the men and women who shaped the character of selected areas of the world for good or ill. Students use the framework of physical, historical, cultural, political, and economic geography to focus on issues common to their local community, their state, the nation, and the world. The problem-solving opportunities in this study encourage students to evaluate alternatives, make choices according to commonly accepted values, and use the political processes to effect change for the common good. Social Science 2000 challenges tradition.

Classroom Examples

Case 1–Fifth Grade
For example, Ms. Jackson’s class is studying history without a textbook. In one corner of a fifth grade classroom, Amy, Javier, Vinh, and Keesha busily organize a class presentation on what it was like to work on the transcontinental railroad. Vinh and Javier complete the written investigation. Amy, the facilitator, asked them to search the database for information about Chinese railroad workers. They located and printed a case study and a picture illustrating a typical day at work. Meanwhile, Amy and Keesha view laserdisc images and choose several to display for the class during their oral presentation. Keesha, the timekeeper, glances at the posted schedule. It is time for the next research team to work at the computer station. Amy and Keesha return to their seats to synthesize the database information and finalize the presentation. Other groups create train company posters to advertise trips across the continent, or they do journal writing to describe how they feel about the railroad as if they were Native Americans. Charts, graphs, maps, railroad schedules, and photographs are everywhere, and if you listen closely, you can hear the strains of Drill, Ye Tarriers, Paddy Works on the Erie and Casey Jones playing in the background.

Case 2–Third Grade
A third grade class is studying the story of communication. Sarah’s teacher, Mr. Gonzalez, knowing of her interest in music, suggests that she browse through the database to find out about the use of music as a form of communication. After spending ten minutes at the computer, she rushes to report that she has found some information on the songs of the troubadours and the purpose they served in medieval societies. Now that the computer is free, Darrell, who is a wonderful storyteller, uses the software directory to find out about storytelling traditions from many countries. Both Sarah and Darrell will incorporate their newfound knowledge in independent projects.

Case 3–Kindergarten
Ms. Parker smiles as she
remembers the projects created
by her kindergarten students for the Children of the World museum exhibit in her classroom. She wants to help her students learn to compare the ways people from other countries meet their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
After school Ms. Parker is seated at the computer constructing her own cross-cultural lesson on basic needs. She selects pictures and video depicting food, clothing, and houses found in the United States, Japan, Nigeria, and Australia for a special 3-day lesson. The focus
of this study will be for students to draw the generalization that all people have the same basic needs, although these needs may be met in different ways.


Teachers appreciate the flexibility of these instructional approaches and their enhancement of the learning environment for students. This program seeks to facilitate the development of student responsibility for learning, utilize significant concepts and ideas which connect with the learner’s experience, provide for interactive learning, and create and apply knowledge in order to better understand and change oneself and the world.
Students are encouraged in the belief that they can be successful learners. They are provided with creative and varied materials to enable the development of their unique strengths, and they are engaged with materials which reflect the value of every individual/group in our multicultural
society. Social Science 2000 makes connections between the past and the present, helps students meet the challenges of the future, and prepares them to experience the joy and satisfaction of making choices that positively affect themselves and their world.
For additional information about these materials, contact Ellen Nelson at 800-835-4332.

About the Authors
Tom Dunthorn is the Social Studies Program Consultant for the Florida Department of Education. He co-chaired the Florida Commission on Social Studies Education that developed Connections, Challenges, Choices and is the Florida Director of the co-development project.

Ellen Nelson is the CEO of Decision Development Corporation in San Ramon, California and is the Project Director for Social Science 2000.

Lynn Woods is the K-12 Social Studies Program Planner for Palm Beach District Schools and a member of the Florida Department of Education Social Studies Regional Support Team. She is the Elementary (K-5) Coordinator of this co-development effort.