Theme One: Culture
The first NCSS Curriculum Standard theme of Culture is primarily concerned with common characteristics of different cultures and a deeply-held instinct about what culture means and what influences various cultures. Some excellent resources with cultural connections were suggested in a recent column of the Media Corner (SS&l, January-February 1995). Two new resources are recommended to supplement this theme.
United Learning (Producer). (1993). Culture-What is it?
[Videocassette]. Madison, WI: Knowledge Unlimited. 13 min.; $89.00; Grades 4-8.
Culture-What Is It? is designed to help students learn about aspects of material and nonmaterial culture. It colorfully and succinctly examines the similarities and differences between cultures around the world, how people with similar backgrounds have similar cultural traits, and how these traits are passed from generation to generation. A teacher's guide and a set of duplicating masters are provided.
United Learning (Producer). (1993). Mexico-Our neighbor to the South. [Videocassette]. Madison, WI: Knowledge Unlimited.
40 min.; $149.95; Grades 4-8.
In this two-part program, the narrative of a Mexican citizen tells the story of Mexico. Topics include: Mexico's geography, natural resources, industries, population problems and hopes for Mexico's future, a brief history, and glimpses into the lives of Mexico's people, their arts, festivals, and more.
Theme Two: Time, Continuity, and Change
The theme of Time, Continuity, and Change focuses on a search for the past and historical identity.
A CD-ROM program and a video are recommended to enhance the theme of this category.
National Geographic Society. (1994). People behind the holidays (TO5769) [CD-ROM]. Washington, DC: Producer. $89.95; Pre-K-2. Macintosh/Windows.
People Behind the Holidays introduces students to historical figures from the past. Children learn about Christopher Columbus and experience the new age of exploration. They find out why the Pilgrims emigrated to North America. George Washington discusses the causes and consequences of the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, and the formation of the United States of America. Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. are featured and descriptions of their achievements are provided. Each unit in this "Wonders of Learning Library" series includes a CD-ROM, activity guides on CD-ROM, printed User's Guides, posters and booklets, and library catalog cards.
Great Plains National & WNED-TV Buffalo, NY. (1993). Follow the drinking gourd (Reading Rainbow Series). [Videocassette]. Lincoln, NE: Producer. $39.95 ; Grades K-3.
Follow the Drinking Gourd explores an infamous chapter in United States history through a story written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter and narrated by Keith David. It celebrates the road to freedom paved by the Underground Railroad and introduces the history, heroes, stories, and music of the African American culture which emerged from slavery. Follow the Drinking Gourd is part of a renowned series that offers a multicultural approach to generating enthusiasm for reading with cross-curricular applications.
Theme Three: People, Places, and Environment
The impact of people on the environment and the study of people and places is emphasized in the third NCSS theme, People, Places, and Environment. So many innovative possibilities for media resources are available, that selecting only a few was a difficult task. A video and a CD-ROM program may help make the presentation of predominantly geographic information unusual and memorable.
National Geographic Society. (1994). Latitude and longitude (0410408) [Videocassette]. Washington, DC: Producer. 22 min.; $110.00; Grades 4-8.
Latitude and Longitude is a bright, innovative video from the National Geographic Society. By viewing animation that explains how early Greek astronomers developed a navigation system, students learn the process involved in identifying absolute location. The contemporary uses of latitude and longitude are explored through examples from modern location systems.
A teacher's guide is included.
National Geographic Society. (1994). Picture atlas of the world-1994 update [CD-ROM]. Washington, DC: Producer. $70/140 (lab pack of 5 disks); Grades 4 and above. IBM and Macintosh.
Picture Atlas of the World is the third CD-ROM produced by National Geographic and includes more than 800 high-resolution maps, 1,200 still photographs, 50 video clips, and 105 audio clips. This product focuses on the historical and cultural nature of the countries of the world. The Picture Atlas of the World software can enhance the study of the five themes of geography or the new geography standards, Geography for Life. Three portions of the Mapping Our World segment use animation to highlight latitude and longitude (Where in the World), map projections (Round Earth on Flat Paper), and time zones (Spinning Through Day and Night). These geographical concepts are clearly and effectively conveyed and are interesting enough for upper elementary students.
Theme Four: Individual Development and Identity
The fourth theme, Individual Development and Identity, has its roots in the fields of anthropology and psychology. While the formal study of psychology does not regularly occur in elementary classrooms, this theme will surface when young children grapple with questions, such as how people develop and meet their needs and why they behave as they do. Two videos are suggested to teach about Individual Development and Identity.
Coronet/MTI Film & Video. (1990). Little rabbit's loose tooth [Videocassette]. Deerfield, IL: Producer. 11 min.; $250.00;
This video is geared to primary school students who have recently lost or are about to lose their first teeth. While it is an adaptation of "Little Rabbit's Loose Tooth" by Lucy Bate, the video demonstrates decision making and problem solving in a familiar context for primary students. In the story a little rabbit wonders what she will be able to eat when she discovers she has a loose tooth. It provides reassuring information for children about change, growth, and maturity.
Runaway to glory (TX1126) [Videocassette]. Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities and Sciences. 24 min.; $34.95;
Runaway to Glory introduces viewers to a family in crisis because an unusually severe storm damaged the family farm. Members of the close-knit community come to the aid of Molly's family. Molly's parents believe that, while everyone else in the family is working to repair damage, Molly and her grandfather are too young and too old to offer aid. They are sent on a simple errand that results in an opportunity to prove their courage and their problem-solving skills.
Theme Five: Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
Students learn how groups, and institutions, such as schools, churches, families, government agencies, and the courts, are formed and play an important role in human lives. Additionally, they may find out how they are influenced by institutions and how institutions may change over time. We found a computer program and a video to enhance this theme.
Creative Multimedia. Smithsonian's America [Software]. Portland, OR: Producer. $29.99; Grades
Smithsonian's America uses the Smithsonian collection to explore American history and culture. The computer program includes over 700 historical photographs, prints, paintings, documents, and graphics; over 200 artifacts; traditional music, and over 30 minutes of video, including rare archival footage, newsreels, and film clips.
Crazy Carlita (TX1788) [Videocasette]. Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities and Sciences.
24 min.; $34.95; Grades 3-6.
In Crazy Carlita, students will see how changes in institutions can begin with one person. Considered to be just an average Hispanic girl, Carlita rises above her young age to organize her friends and family to fight the reelection of a school board member who does not have the best interests of all students in mind. Throughout the campaign, Carlita confronts the nay-sayers who think she is too young to effect real change. As a result, Carlita learns that hard work, perseverance, and working for a just cause result in success while working within the system.
Theme Six: Power, Authority, and Governance
Government, politics, political science, and history are combined in the sixth theme, Power, Authority, and Governance. Students learn the historical nature of power structures and their functions in order to develop civic competence. A recently-produced video and an award-winning CD-ROM represent some essential learning in this category.
Thomas Klise (Producer). (1993). The Declaration of Independence [Videocassette]. Madison, WI: Knowledge Unlimited. 16 min.; $58.00; Grades 4-8.
A colorful tale is woven in the video version of The Declaration of Independence. While the video is fairly brief, it identifies important events during the time of the Revolution. Formatted through still photographs of people, places, events, and objects, the video includes a dramatic reading of the words that make up the Declaration.
National Geographic Society. (1991). The presidents, A picture history of our nation (T80930) [CD-ROM]. Washington, DC: Producer. $99.00; Grades 4-Adult/Reference. MS-DOS.
The Presidents offers a comprehensive, interactive encyclopedic reference resource in CD-ROM format. Spanning their personal and private lives, the encyclopedia provides relevant history and memorable occasions in the lives of American Presidents. The over 1400 full-screen photos and narrated photo-essays and 33 video clips of significant presidential moments help to make the fascinating history of our Presidents meaningful. Also included are text and audio of famous speeches, a multimedia social and political time line (1789-1991), and election facts and figures.
Theme Seven: Production, Distribution, and Consumption
Economics concepts and issues are the basis for the seventh theme, Production, Distribution, and Consumption. Excellent resources abound through public television offerings and units developed by the National Council on Economics Education. Two recent media selections identify economics concepts and are clearly geared toward elementary children.
Food comes to the neighborhood (TX4698) and Earning and spending (TX4703) [Videocassettes]. Princeton, NJ: Films for the Humanities and Sciences. 15 min.; $34.95 each; Grades K-3.
Food Comes to the Neighborhood shows the community of Nutdale preparing for a celebratory picnic. Viewers learn the economic concepts of production, consumption, and interdependence as they find out how the inhabitants of Nutdale depend on one another for food and other necessities. Earning and Spending highlights the need for money, how money is earned, how to make a budget, and the importance of saving. These videocassettes are part of the We Live Next Door series, designed to foster awareness of "neighborhood." Programs combine puppets and live characters, songs and fables, to present issues in the fictional town of Nutdale.
The 10-video set is available for $325.00 (TX4695), and a 60-page teacher's guide provides vocabulary lists, program synopses, learning objectives, and classroom activities.
Theme Eight: Science, Technology, and Society
Lessons learned from Science, Technology, and Society help children identify concepts of change and improvement. Underlying moral issues also arise, as students begin to reflect about responsible applications of science and technology to society. Two new CD-ROM programs exemplify this theme.
Science for Kids. (1994). Adventures with Oslo/Tools & Gadgets [CD-ROM]. Lewisville, NC: Producer. $59.95; Grades K-3. IBM and Macintosh.
Adventures with Oslo contains an animated storybook, Dolly's Dilemma; a discovery database which explains simple machines; an adventure game that allows the user to search clues and solve a mystery; a coloring gallery; and a maze arcade. The adventure game has applications to archaeology, geography, and discovery learning. A map, a letter, and an archaeological artifact help the user search Tool Town and the Valley of Machines. Each new area of the game reveals surprises when the player clicks on the many options available. Information about a Science-by-Mail pen pal program through 16 Museum of Science chapters is included.
Microsoft. (1994). Scholastic's the magic school bus explores the solar system [CD-ROM]. $44.95 academic version; Grades 2-5. Requires MS-DOS 5.0 or higher and Microsoft Windows 3.1 or higher.
This high-interest program, transports the indomitable teacher Ms. Frizzle and her well-known students to new heights and provides an assortment of multimedia reports, games, experiments, and various entertaining aspects to introduce young children to the planets and the moon. Students can click on an interesting collection of objects to find out information, get help, and go on to the next adventure. The program begins in the classroom, and then, of course, Ms. Frizzle and her students board the school bus and take off into space. Enhanced by photos and video footage, animation, and jokes. Some of the experiments students may select include using a slingshot to aim objects for the moon's surface to create craters and filling up Jupiter with the Earth to compare size.
Theme Nine: Global Connections
The Global Connections theme underlies the importance of living interdependently in a global community. International issues such as protecting the environment and dealing with ethnic differences are addressed in an interactive computer program and a video.
Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education. (1993). What have you got to lose? New world tropical rainforests [Interactive computer program]. Stanford, CA: Producer. $44.95; Grades 3-8.
What Have You Got to Lose? New World Tropical Rainforests is a comprehensive, 128-page guide for teaching about endangered ecosystems around the world. Rainforest survival games, local and international problem-solving group simulations, a scientific experiment, and a guide to creating a classroom rainforest are some of the suggested activities. Students learn about the complexities of the political and moral issues surrounding the development and preservation of the rainforests. Twenty-four colorful slides, a cross-section poster of the rainforest ecosystem, and an extensive resource list support the unit.
United Learning (Producer). (1993). Cultures-Why are they different? (People and Cultures series, UL10092) [Videocassette]. Madison, WI: Knowledge Unlimited. 13 min.; $89.00; Grades 4-6.
The third in the video series, Cultures-Why Are They Different? focuses on helping students to relate to people from different cultures. The roles of climate, availability of natural resources, and religion in shaping culture are discussed. Students learn how to identify elements of cultural diversity within a country and the importance of interdependence within a culture and between cultures. The video set includes a teacher's guide for discussion, lesson extensions, and a set of duplicating masters.
Theme Ten: Civic Ideals and Practices
The final theme, Civic Ideals and Practices, offers an opportunity for the application of concepts and practices. A video and an interactive video program are recommended to enhance this theme.
Doing the right thing (You Can Choose Series). (1993). [Videocassette]. Bohemia, NY: Rainbow Educational Media. 28 min.; $59.95; Grades K-6.
Doing the Right Thing focuses on characters Rhonda and Fiona, who discover that doing what's right feels a lot better than doing what they can get away with. When the two friends find a lost wallet on the playground, they struggle with the temptation to spend the money before concluding that the money is not theirs to spend. This video is part of a series hosted by comedian-youth counselor Michael Pritchard, which leads children in an unrehearsed problem solving session.
Tom Snyder Productions, Inc. (1995). Getting to the heart of it (GTH-K) [Interactive Video]. Watertown, MA: Producer.
Free Demo sample video, kit (GDEMO-K). $219.95; Grades 5-8
Getting to the Heart of It is an interactive video/instructional unit designed to help upper elementary students learn about and practice conflict resolution. During the video, follow-along student assignments prepare students for upcoming group discussions. Students also receive "confidentiaquot; role-play cards that detail information about characters in the video. Students learn how to apply an effective process and vocabulary for conflict resolution. The program may be completed in as few as three class periods or may be paced over a longer period of time. Included in the program are a teacher's guide, workbooks, role-play cards, and sample take-home video.
Coronet/MTI Film & Video c/o Simon & Schuster Film & Videos
108 Wilmot Dr.
Deerfield, IL 60015
513 NW 13th Ave., Suite 400
Portland, OR 97209
503-241-4351; Fax 503-241-4370
Films for the Humanities and Sciences, P.O. Box 2053
Princeton, NJ 08543-2053
800-257-5126; Fax 609-275-3767
Great Plains National
P. O. Box 80669
Lincoln; NE 68501-0669
P.O. Box 52
Madison, WI; 53701-0052;
One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052; 800-426-9400
National Geographic Society
P.O. Box 98018
Washington, DC 20036-4688
Rainbow Educational Media
170 Keyland Court
Bohemia; NY; 11716
800-331-4047 or 919-954-7550
Science for Kids
9950 Concord Church Rd.
Lewisville, NC 27023; 910-945-9000
Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education
Institute for International Studies, Littlefield Center
Room 14C, Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-5013
800-578-1114; email: SPICE.SALES@forsythe.stanford.edu
Tom Snyder Productions, Inc.
80 Coolidge Hill Road
Watertown, MA 02172-2817
About the Authors
Sherry L. Field is Assistant Professor of Social Science Education at the University of Georgia. Her research interests include children's historical thinking, social studies curriculum and foundations, and multicultural education.
John Hoge, Associate Professor of Social Science Education at the University of Georgia, is on a one-year assignment teaching fifth grade. He and Sherry Field are currently researching how children learn history.