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Social Studies and the Young Learner January/February 2020

Editor's Notes: Thought- Provoking Histories

In the first article in this issue, “First Graders’ Inquiry into Multicolored Stories of School (De)Segregation,” Sohyun An presents silenced-yet-powerful stories of three Americans—girls of Indigenous, Chinese, and Mexican ancestry—who fought for equal education in America in the last century. Their struggles all pre-dated that of the better-known African-American girl, Ruby Bridges, whose story is included in the first grade unit plan, which includes handouts that can be found in the Pullout.

Jennifer L. Altieri explains in her article, “Enhancing Social Studies Learning Through Student-Created Poetry,” how student-created formula poetry can be used in the primary grade social studies classroom. A variety of poetry types are shared along with examples written by students. She outlines benefits of poetry writing, which include deepening content understanding, strengthening academic vocabulary, and growing in content knowledge.

In a piece by Timothy J. Patterson and Jay M. Shuttleworth, “Teaching Hard History through Children’s Literature about Enslavement,” the authors offer a review of depictions of enslavement in children’s literature through an analytical framework that decodes the interpretive stances embedded in narratives about, and illustrations, of enslavement. They also outline an inquiry-based strategy to support elementary students’ close reading of books about enslavement.

In “Complicating ‘Master Historical Narratives’ with Primary Sources in a Fourth Grade Guided Inquiry,” an article by Jeremiah Clabough and John H. Bickford, the authors present the findings of a fourth grade study in which students exam ined primary sources and trade books about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, and issues that affected the African American community. They explain how fourth grade students used this research as the basis for evidence-based essays.

Eric Chandler Groce and Margaret Norville Gregor engage the reader in a though-provoking piece, “Destination Discrimination: Navigating the Highways of Segregated America with Trade Books.” They document how the advent of the automobile brought about opportunities as well as new challenges for black families seeking to sidestep racist practices during the Jim Crow era. This article reviews selected trade books, identifies pertinent themes associated with automobile travel, and discusses questions that will facilitate an intensive classroom exploration of this period of American history.


 


 

First Graders’ Inquiry into Multicolored Stories of School (De)Segregation
Sohyun An

Decades of curriculum research have uncovered a persistent trend: white people are depicted as dominating the history of the United States, whereas communities of color and their experiences are omitted or misrepresented in social studies textbooks and curriculum standards. The message the resulting curriculum sends to children is that the United States is a country of white people, and people of color have little or no place in it. The author presents silenced-yet-powerful stories of three Americans—girls of Indigenous, Chinese, and Mexican ancestry—who fought for equal education in America in the last century. Their struggles all pre-dated that of the better-known African-American girl, Ruby Bridges, whose story is included in the first grade unit plan, which includes handouts that can be found in the Pullout. PreK-Elementary     US History

 

Enhancing Social Studies Learning Through Student-Created Poetry
Jennifer L. Altieri

Writing is a bridge between the disciplines, offering a way to include social studies content in various lessons. In addition, writing serves as a way for students to process informational text, as they read content, reflect on it, and restate it in various ways— such as in a poem, a faux historical letter, or a caption under an illustration. In this article, the authors discuss in detail four types of formula poetry that easily connect with social studies content. Each formula helps students at various grade levels to write a basic poem. We discuss the structure for each type of poetry, give examples of integration with other content disciplines, and offer suggestions for implementation. PreK-Elementary     Pedagogy/Instruction

 

Teaching Hard History through Children’s Literature
Timothy J. Patterson, Jay M. Shuttleworth

While enslavement is a topic present in elementary social studies standards for all fifty states, it also remains one of the most difficult topics to teach. In this article, the authors offer lessons from their study of recently published children’s books that depict enslavement. They also offer recommendations for an inquiry-based strategy aligned with the College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards that will support students’ learning about enslavement from any of the books in our study, or other books that may be available in a particular school library. PreK-Elementary     US History, Pedagogy/Instruction

 

Complicating “Master Historical Narratives” with Primary Sources in a Fourth Grade Guided Inquiry
Jeremiah Clabough, John H. Bickford

The College, Career, and Civil Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards guides teachers to initiate complex inquiries by sparking students’ disciplinary literacy and critical analysis of rich sources. With effective scaffolding and engaging content, elementary students can explore and contextualize complex historical topics. In this article, the authors present the findings of a fourth grade study in which students examined primary sources and trade books about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass, and issues that affected the African American community. They explain how fourth grade students used this research as the basis for evidence-based essays. PreK-Elementary     US History, Pedagogy/Instruction

 

Destination Discrimination: Navigating the Highways of Segregated America with Trade Books
Eric Chandler Groce, Margaret Norville Gregor

Teaching a civil rights unit in the upper elementary grades can be difficult. Educators must sort through multiple resources, determine the quality and developmental appropriateness of the materials, synthesize and organize the resources into meaningful lessons, and teach the unit in the midst of pressures to minimize or eliminate social studies in deference to tested subjects. Many elementary teachers find this a daunting task, which they avoid. The authors suggest a “depth over breadth” model focused around children’s literature texts and primary sources. This article reviews selected trade books, identifies pertinent themes associated with automobile travel, and discusses questions that will facilitate an intensive classroom exploration of this period of American history. PreK-Elementary     US History, Pedagogy/Instruction
Vol.: 
32
Number: 
3