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Social Studies and the Young Learner

Social Studies and the Young Learner November/December 2019

SSYL November/December 2019 Cover

 

The Fifty States Project: Learning About America, One Care Package at a Time
Kelly McPherson

As a fifth grade teacher, I get to teach many subjects such as math, language arts, and science, but my true love is social studies. Because Virginia has not established social studies standards specifically for the fifth grade, my school division developed a local course called, My Place in Time and Space.1 One compelling (conceptual, divergent) question in the course is How am I connected to other spaces and places? Two supporting questions (answerable with facts or opinions) are Where have I been? and Where do I want to go in the world? To help my students engage with these inquiries, I include lessons about the geography, culture, and history of the United States over the course of the school year through our fifty states project. PreK-Elementary     Geography

 

Mrs. Mink Goes to Washington: The First Japanese American Member of Congress
Elyse Ledford, Ilene R. Berson, Michael J. Berson, Alexander Ledford

In this article, we offer resources and activities that highlight Patsy Mink's congressional achieve- ments and experiences, and push young students to think about the institution of Congress with a gendered lens. PreK-Elementary     Civics/Government, US History

 

Live It to Learn It: Making Elections Personally Meaningful
Margit E. McGuire, Karen Nicholson, Allan Rand

How do we preserve our civil society and dynamic political system and prepare students to be active citizens in a democratic society? The need for civic education is more essential now than ever before, and students deserve access to powerful civic lessons that actively engage them in learning about our democracy. The ultimate goal would be for students to be able to study and solve problems arising in everyday life just as adults in a democracy should do. For example, students could participate in the developing story of a presidential election, as this article will describe. PreK-Elementary     Civics/Government

 

Veterans Day Then and Now: First Graders Learn from Primary Sources and Take Action
Michelle Bauml, Lisa May

Introducing patriotic holidays such as Veterans Day with historical photographs and other primary sources in classrooms can not only spark children's interest, but also promote critical thinking and historical comprehension.1 Meaningful, hands-on historical lessons can also motivate children to take informed action about issues they care about.

We begin this article with a brief history of Veterans Day, followed by a description of two lessons in which first grade teacher and co-author Lisa May used historical photographs to introduce students to Veterans Day. Next, we describe a student-directed school-wide Veterans Day program that resulted from lessons that involved students in the analysis of primary sources. PreK-Elementary     Civics/Government, US History

Protest and Civic Participation

In the first article in this issue, “Why are People Marching? Discussing Justice- Oriented Citizenship using Picture Books,” Jessica Ferreras-Stone and Sara B. Demoiny outline how teachers, in accordance with NCSS guidelines, can use picture books to spur discussions about justice-oriented citizenship, including protest marches, as a means to understand the past and present.

Mindfulness: Promoting Peace in a Kindergarten Classroom

This article describes the month-long social studies unit on mindfulness that the kindergarten teacher co-taught in her classroom with Sarah, an elementary social studies professor, and Maya, then a teacher candidate. After exploring the intersections between mindfulness and social studies education, examples of activities and resources from the unit will be provided, including breathing techniques and children’s literature.

Teaching the Civic Rights Movement through the Eyes of Young Participants

Teaching about the civil rights movement in the elementary grades has, in many schools, focused exclusively on the lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Many students are well versed in the content of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, and they know well that Rosa did not give up her seat on the bus.

Culture Calle: Celebrating Heritage, Diversity, and Dreams in Bilingual Classrooms

Former President Barack Obama has touched hearts by sharing his inspiring book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, with the children of the world. Together, with the breathtaking illustrations of Loren Long, Obama presents 13 historical figures that have each had a profound impact on America. In a very different book, Calling the Doves/ El Canto de las Palomas, award-winning Mexican American poet Juan Felipe Herrera beautifully illustrates his childhood as the son of Mexican migrant farmworkers.

Subject Area: 

Localizing Civics: A Collaboratively Designed Second Grad Unit of Study

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly divided, particularly in the United States. In fact, people tend to interact almost exclusively with individuals who hold their shared world views and beliefs. Because of these trends, teaching students from a young age how to engage with others on issues that they may disagree about is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, this type of social studies learning rarely happens in public schools, particularly in lower elementary school classrooms.

Subject Area: 

Social Studies and the Young Learner September/October 2019

Cover of September/October 2019 Issue

In the first article in this issue, “Why are People Marching? Discussing JusticeOriented Citizenship using Picture Books,” Jessica Ferreras-Stone and Sara B. Demoiny outline how teachers, in accordance with NCSS guidelines, can use picture books to spur discussions aboutjustice-oriented citizenship, including protest marches, as a means to understand the past and present.


 

Pullout: The Family Tree Project
Ariel Cornett, Isabel Vargas, Caitlin Hobgood, Allison McNamara, Stephanie van Hover

Handouts for a culture calle, as described in Culture Calle: Celebrating Heritage, Diversity, and Dreams in Bilingual Classrooms PreK-Elementary     General Social Studies
Editor's Notes
 

Protest and Civic Participation
Scott Waring

In the first article in this issue, “Why are People Marching? Discussing Justice- Oriented Citizenship using Picture Books,” Jessica Ferreras-Stone and Sara B. Demoiny outline how teachers, in accordance with NCSS guidelines, can use picture books to spur discussions about justice-oriented citizenship, including protest marches, as a means to understand the past and present.

William Toledo and Jody Hollins present key concepts related to civic perspective- taking in their piece, “Localizing Civics: A Collaboratively Designed, Second Grade Unit of Study.” The authors’ hope is that their work will help elementary teachers teach about this important topic. They provide tips and ideas for teaching this content that emerged from their teaching and research.

In “Culture Calle: Celebrating Heritage, Diversity, and Dreams in Bilingual Classrooms,” Ariel Cornett, Isabel Vargas, Caitlin Hobgood, Allison McNamara, and Stephanie van Hover describe how the use of children’s literature can support student learning in social studies about culture and famous American contributions. They identify specific activities that helped elementary students build background knowledge and make connections in regards to their familial and personal identities. The same authors created the four-page Pullout for this issue, with handouts for a culture calle, as a complement to the article.

Judy Lindquist details a unit used to teach elementary school students about the civil rights movement, in “Teaching the Civil Rights Movement through the Eyes of Young Participants.” She outlines an approach to using a variety of documents, texts, and close reading strategies, in a literacy-rich way, to bring life to history. In “Mindfulness: Promoting Peace in a Kindergarten Classroom,” Sarah E. Montgomery, Maya Van Driel, and Kim Vandendriessche explore the intersection between mindfulness and social studies education. Detailed examples from a kindergarten social studies unit on mindfulness are provided, including breathing techniques, and children’s literature.

PreK-Elementary    

 

Why are People Marching? Discussing Justice-Oriented Citizenship Using Picture Books
Jessica Ferras-Stone, Sara B. Demoiny

“Why are people marching?” Given today’s level of activism, this is a plausible question many students may have. Although only some students voice the questions, it is very likely that many more have pondered why people are protesting after seeing reports of events such as the Women’s March (equality for women), March for Our Lives (about gun control), Black Lives Matter (for racial justice), Janitors March (for fair pay), and Keep Families Together (demanding the Trump administration reunite immigrant families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border). As elementary teachers, our subsequent question becomes, “How can I respond?” This article outlines how integrating children’s literature, which presents accurate content regarding political activism, can lay the groundwork for discussing and answering students’ curiosity regarding why people are marching. PreK-Elementary     Civics/Government

 

Localizing Civics: A Collaboratively Designed Second Grad Unit of Study
William Toledo, Jody Hollins

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly divided, particularly in the United States. In fact, people tend to interact almost exclusively with individuals who hold their shared world views and beliefs. Because of these trends, teaching students from a young age how to engage with others on issues that they may disagree about is of the utmost importance. Unfortunately, this type of social studies learning rarely happens in public schools, particularly in lower elementary school classrooms.

To address this challenge, we formed a collaboration to develop a curricular intervention with the goal of preparing young people to interact with one another on public issues in our community about which there is a diversity of opinions. The second grade teachers on the team taught the resulting unit of study at a public elementary school in the Southwest with a large Latinx population.

PreK-Elementary     Civics/Government

 

Culture Calle: Celebrating Heritage, Diversity, and Dreams in Bilingual Classrooms
Ariel Cornett, Isabel Vargas, Caitlin Hobgood, Allison McNamara, Stephanie van Hover

Former President Barack Obama has touched hearts by sharing his inspiring book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, with the children of the world. Together, with the breathtaking illustrations of Loren Long, Obama presents 13 historical figures that have each had a profound impact on America. In a very different book, Calling the Doves/ El Canto de las Palomas, award-winning Mexican American poet Juan Felipe Herrera beautifully illustrates his childhood as the son of Mexican migrant farmworkers. Herrera vividly describes his family’s journey through the mountains and valleys of California from one small farm town to another. These two picture books offer powerful opportunities to teach students about culture as well as individual development and identity.

In this article, we describe how these two books anchor a week-long unit on cultural heritage and the contributions of famous Americans.

PreK-Elementary     General Social Studies

 

Teaching the Civic Rights Movement through the Eyes of Young Participants
Judy Lindquist

Teaching about the civil rights movement in the elementary grades has, in many schools, focused exclusively on the lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Many students are well versed in the content of King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, and they know well that Rosa did not give up her seat on the bus. While these moments and heroes of the movement are essential in the study of this era in history, the study of more obscure and lesser known people and events is a great way to deepen our students’ understanding of the sacrifices that so many thousands of ordinary people made in the pursuit of equal rights for all.

PreK-Elementary     Civics/Government, US History

 

Mindfulness: Promoting Peace in a Kindergarten Classroom
Sarah E. Montgomery, Maya Van Driel, Kim Vandendriessche

This article describes the month-long social studies unit on mindfulness that the kindergarten teacher co-taught in her classroom with Sarah, an elementary social studies professor, and Maya, then a teacher candidate. After exploring the intersections between mindfulness and social studies education, examples of activities and resources from the unit will be provided, including breathing techniques and children’s literature. PreK-Elementary    

Sports Reporter Mary Garber: Expanding the Trailblazer Approach to Women’s History

While guest teaching in a third-grade classroom as part of her doctoral studies, the author became interested in how students think about female pioneers and what it means to be first in a historical sense. This article explores the potential of interactive read-aloud books to teach women’s history with young students.

“Even If She Fell Down, She Kept Getting Up!”: Teaching Women’s History through the Olympics

Sports can be a unique platform to teach third-grade students about women’s history and civic values. This lesson addresses two social studies practices for the third grade in the New York State K-8 Social Studies Framework (Gathering, Interpreting, and Using Evidence; and Chronological Reasoning and Causation) and three themes from the National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (TIME, CONTINUITY, AND CHANGE; PEOPLE, PLACES, AND ENVIRONMENTS; and INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT AND IDENTITY).

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