Curriculum and Methods in Elementary School Social Studies

EdTe 305

Spring, 2003

Instructor: Jeanne Pfeifer, Ph.D.

Room: Eureka 211


phone: (916) 278-5542

Web page:

Office: 220 Eureka

Office hours: M 12-1; 4-5 and by appointment


Required text:

Ellis, Arthur K. (2002) Teaching and Learning Elementary Social Studies, 7th Ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

California Department of Education. History-Social Science Framework, K-12, 2001 Update Edition with Content Standards.

Erickson, H. Lynn. Concept-Based Curriculum and Instruction: Teaching Beyond the Facts. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, Inc

Required Web subscription:

If your registration has lapsed, you will need to register online. You will need to use a credit card and an email address. They will send you a user and pass word by email within two days. You will register as "university" and then "CSUS".

Statement of Purpose:

The underlying assumptions of the social studies methods course are embedded in constructivist philosophy. In this approach, students are thought to learn best when they are involved directly in authentic experiences. The experiences are planned and mediated by the teacher such that students gain in-depth understandings to their own lives and to today's world.

Teachers must plan carefully and thoroughly for such activities to take place successfully. They must take into account student characteristics and prior experiences in order to create meaningful experiences. Most likely, in this problem-centered approach, students become engaged from multiple perspectives, thus instruction and learning are "integrated." During the actual instructional event, teachers may spend much of their time as coaches and facilitators (rather than center stage disseminators of knowledge.) Anticipated outcomes for the learners are in-depth conceptual knowledge, critical thinking processes, social skill development and positive self-esteem.


Requirements from the CCTC:


Teaching History-Social Science in a Multiple Subject Assignment

Candidates for a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential demonstrate the ability to teach the state-adopted academic content standards for students in history-social science (K-8). They enable students to learn and use basic analytic thinking skills in history and social science while attaining the state-adopted academic content standards for students. They use timelines and maps to give students a sense of temporal and spatial scale. Candidates teach students how social science concepts and themes provide insights into historical periods and cultures. They help students understand events and periods from multiple perspectives by using simulations, case studies, cultural artifacts, works of art and literature, cooperative projects, and student research.

 Course Objectives: Students will:

  • participate, analyze their experiences and implement a variety of instructional strategies (e.g. simulations/role playing, dramatics, concept development, student research activities, case studies, cooperative learning, graphic organizers and activities using primary sources, cultural artifacts including works of art and literature). (TPE 8 & 9)
  • identify and implement a variety of instruction strategies (activities) for teaching social studies which are appropriate for students from diverse backgrounds and with varying needs, interests and learning styles. (TPE 6A and B)
  • locate, discuss, analyze, evaluate and implement a variety of social studies teaching resources. (TPE 4)
  • plan and teach a unit which incorporates resources and activities that promote active student involvement and makes subject matter comprehensible to students. (TPE 1A and 11). Unit must include attention to:
    • critical thinking processes
    • multiple perspectives
    • concept development
    • integration with other subjects
    • appropriate developmental level of students
    • special needs of students
    • effective maintainence of social environment.
  • Identify and apply a variety of techniques for assessment of units that are consistent with instruction.
  • Incorporate technology into social studies learning.
  • Exhibit a commitment to democractic values of dialogue and communication, a respect for freedom of expreswsion, and a tolerance for different points of view.


1. Students are expected to attend and participate in all classes including online discussions. Please see instructor if you must miss class for unforeseeable circumstances. After one absence, grade will be lowered by one grade for each day. TPE 12 (35 points)

2. During the first 10 weeks of class, develop, teach and reflect on two lessons in Taskstream. One lesson should teach stuents about timelines and the second lesson should involve the students with maps (making and/or reading.) These lessons may be associated with other content areas (e.g. develop a time line associated with a story that students are encountering during reading). As a result of your lesson, the students should have learned something more about timelines and maps (geography) in general. (5 points) (You may decide to include timeline and map lessons in your unit that build upon these lessons.)

2. Development of Unit (you may consult with one another, share resources and ideas, but turn in your own unit). Most class meetings should allow you to produce a part of your unit, however you will need to complete more work outside of class (30 points). Develop a Social studies Unit that will contain:

a. An "ideal" Annual plan, and a Spring, 2003 plan that represents what will be taught in the classroom that you are student teaching in. Indicate the unit topic you will be planning and teaching. Indicate cooperative learning strategies on the "ideal" annual plan.

b. Class background information

c. Unit of Instruction Plans (on Taskstream, all fields completed)

  • state standards
  • essential/unit questions
  • associated disciplines/concepts
  • a variety of resources (include literature and field trips)
  • assessment plan and at least one rubric
  • newsletter to parents

d. 8-10 lessons (two week unit) in Taskstream using the Standard lesson plan or the Middle School Plan (constructivist) with each plan attached to the unit plan activities. Please do not use othe abbreviated plan/activity protocol.

  • At least one hands-on/minds-on lesson plan (use Middle School Plan), video tape and edit this activity. Edit to 2 to 3 minutes.
  • A variety of strategies
  • Before Teaching, by week 10, share with reviewer the unit plan with the first three lessons linked within the unit plan, fully planned plus a summary of the remaining lessons


3. Teach unit of instruction during weeks 11-15. (30 points)

    • Write a reflection on each lesson as it is taught (in the lesson builder)
    • Write a lesson plan in the lesson builder for the remaining lessons, before they are taught
    • Write an overall reflection at the end of the unit, indicating what changes you would make if you had "your druthers". Attach to unit builder.
    • Provide examples of student products (digital photos or scan)
    • Attach you iMovie to the appropriate lesson.
    • Provide examples and a summary of your student evaluations. Reflect on your evaluation plan and how your rubric(s) worked. Indicate any changes you would make in the future. Include in the unit evaluation section on Taskstream.


A=100-96; A-=95-91; B+=90-88; B 87-85; B-=84-81; C+=80-78; C=77-75; NC less than 75


Course Schedule:






(after class)

Assignments: Unit/Online


January 27


What is Social Studies? What are the attributes of meaningful, well-planned social studies lessons?

Who are you teaching?

What is important to you for teaching social studies?

Anthropology Boxes


CCSS: California Council for the Social Studies, March 6-9 Sacramento Convention Center. (Volunteers receive free registration)

Class notes: Social Science/Humanities

H/SS Framework pp1-26; skim 27-74, read carefully the grade level you are targeting, bring Framework to class with you next week.

Ellis, Ch 1

  • Reflection of activity ( concept development vs. vocabulary, hands-on/minds-on, critical thinking, working cooperatively, etc.) in Taskstream
    • What attributes do you observe in the athropology box lesson?
    • What other lessons have you seen or can you think of that have similar attributes?
    • How might second language learners and/or special learners needs be met in this type lesson? Do you have suggestions/additions to this lesson to better meet the needs of students?
    • How can classroom management affect lessons of this nature?
  • After reading Ellis, develop 1-2 paragraphs that describes your overall goals for social studies. Later in the semester, these paragraphs may be incorporated into a newsletter to parents.
  • Begin BackGround Information on your class. You will need to gather this informatin by observation, interviewing children and the teacher, and reviewing curricular materials. Share a draft by February 10. Final is due attached to your unit on March 31.


February 3

  • How do we know what to teach in social studies?
  • What are concepts?

Annual Planning, Identifying Units,

Bring the History/SS Framework with you to this class.

Letter to teacher

Ellis, Ch 2, 6

Erickson, Ch 1

  • Develop an "ideal" Annual plan for your grade level,
  • Attach the annual plan to the unit. (We will share some of these on February 10 in class.)
  • Discuss with your cooperating teacher what students might be studying during weeks 10-15 (solo weeks). What has your teacher wanted to teach but has not been able to? Choose a topic for your unit.
  • Create a unit in Taskstream, fill in as much information as you can.
  • Develop a spring annual plan for social studies for your acutal classroom.



February 10

How do you locate resources for your unit? For you as the teacher? For your students? How do we mesh the standards and the framework? Locate primary sources, Web quests.



Searching the web for resources, evaluating resources.


rubric for resources

What are primary sources?

Ellis: skim Ch 3 and use for reference

Erickson: Ch 2

  • List student and teacher resources pertinent to your unit;
  • Locate primary sources for your unit,
  • Find a webquest either for your unit, or one that would fit into your annual plan.
  • List possible field trips (virtual?)
  • Choose at least two children's literature selections relevant to your unit.

You will begin this resource list in class but will need to spend time outside of class to complete a thorough collection of resources. You will identify and list resources that may not be used this time, but may be used in the future. In your search, if you locate resources that are pertinent for other units listed in your annual plan, you may want to save those on your annual plan form or begin another list of resources for the future. Be ready to share a draft at our next class. Final is due on March 24.



February 17

What should K-1, 2-3,4-5,6-8 know about timelines? Maps?

How can you integrate mapping and timelines with other subject areas? (e.g. reading, math etc.)


  • Create a developmentally appropriate timeline lesson
  • map lesson


Timelines and Maps

Ellis: Chapter 12


  • How can these topics fit into your resource unit? or your annual plan?
  • Use the Taskstream lesson builder to generate the map and time line lessons to be taught, reflected upon and shared with reviewer by March 17. Be sure that students understand more about timelines in general and maps (geography) compared to prior to teaching the lessons.
  • How might timelines and mapping be built upon in your unit?
  • Continue to add to the Unit builder in Taskstream.


5 & 6

February 24

March 3

What are a variety of strategies that I might use in by social studies unit?

Which strategies allow for more student involvement?

Building Units: HLQ, Role playing, simulations, Inductive reasoning, inquiry etc.


What Happened at Lexington Green?

House on Maple Street: Using literature as a graphic organizer

graphic organizers introduced

How are graphic organizers and critical thinking related?

Graphic Organizer examples:


Ellis: Chapters 5,7, 9, 13,14

Erickson: Chapter 3 (skim 4 for concepts)

  • Use the Middle School lesson builder to plan at least one lesson that has hands on/mind on (with primary source materials.) Pay particular attention to the types of questions you ask. (Attach this to the unit plan)
  • Develop a graphic organizer for your unit (concept based). Attach to unit builder. (Think of this as a possible bulletin board that might be added to---with student work---as the unit progresses.)
  • Begin to articulate what types of thinking processes with which students will become engaged.
  • Plan the specific activities and the sequence of activities. List these in your unit plan.

(Be ready to share by March 10)


  • Choose groups: Each group must have at least one person from K-2, one form 3-4 and one from 5-6. Begin to research your topic using
  • topics are: simulations, case studies, artifacts, field trips, art and music, artifacts and primary sources, and student research.
  • Each group will make a presentation (power point?) to the class on March 10.

Learning Styles and Strategies


March 10

How does cooperative learning fit into social studies curriculum? How can it expand throughout the year?

Feedback from CCSS?


Cooperative learning activities

Social Studies Skills

Ellis: Chapter 11& 16

  • Indicate in your annual plan and your unit plan how and where you will introduce and use cooperative learning.
    • class and group building
    • skill building
    • short term groups (strategies?)
    • base groups
    • long term group projects
  • After this class, you should have at least three of the first lessons planned out in the lesson builder.
  • Develop a newsletter to parents introducing you and the unit you will be teaching. If you would like to include other aspects of your "solo" teaching, you may. Attach this to the unit builder.
  • Be ready to share these March 24.

8 March 17

How will you assess your students and your teaching?


Using different models of assessment, developing rubrics

C.L.A.S. Examples

Rubric for unit

Ellis: Chapter 8

Erickson: Chapter 5

  • Fill out assessment plan in your unit plan.
  • Include a unit rubric
  • Include assessment strategies from Ellis
  • Check Taskstream discussion board. Respond to units and rubrics questions.
  • Be ready to share these elements on March 24.

9 March 24

Where does the textbook fit in?

What else is considered "social studies"?

Citizenship Education, current events Ellis: Chapter 10, 15 Work in a small group to research one of the topics and prepare a powerpoint.

March 31

Cesar Chevez

Sharing units: Friendly critics

Reflecting on Reflection

Professional Development   Share with reviewer your Taskstream unit with lesson attachments and other attachments.
11-15 April 7- May 16

Teaching, assessing and reflecting on unit. Write out lesson plans 4-10


Record/video hands-on/minds-on lesson. Edit to 2-3 minutes. Attach to lesson.

Photograph and/or scan student performance and work. Attach to appropriate lessons.

Share reflections as you teach lessons.

16 May 19


  • Share with class your unit.
  • Share what surprised you?
  • What did you learn? ---about social studies?---about teaching?
    Submit entire unit with student examples and overall unit reflection