Social Studies Methods in a Diverse Classroom (EdTe 315)

Summer, 2008

Instructor: Jeanne Pfeifer, Ph.D..

Room: Eureka 211


Web page:

phone: (916) 278-5542

Benicia 1038

Required text:

Social Studies:

Schell, E. and Fisher, D. (2007). Teaching Social Studies, A Literacy-Based Approach. Upper Saddleback River, N.J.: Pearson Education, Inc.

Obenchain, K.M. and Morris, R.V. (2007). 50 Strategies for K-8 Classrooms, 2nd Ed. Upper Saddleback River, N.J.: Pearson Education, Inc.

Cornett, C.E. (2007). Creating Meaning Through Literature and the Arts, An Integration Resource for Classroom Teachers, 3rd. Ed. Upper Saddleback River, N.J.: Pearson Education, Inc.


Kagan, S. Cooperative Learning

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 of their own lives within a diverse society and of 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.From the CCTC:A. MAKING SUBJECT MATTER COMPREHENSIBLE TO STUDENTSTeaching History-Social Science in a Multiple Subject AssignmentCandidates 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. Performing Arts Integrate a variety of arts lessons from all categories (dance, singing, sculpture, painting...) throughout the academic year. Integration is true to both the content area (social studies, science...) as well as the artistic concepts and qualities.

 Course Objectives: Students will:

  • Participate and analyze their experiences with a variety of instruction 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).
  • Create an annual plan for social studies for a chosen grade level, reflecting California State H/SS Framework and Standards.
  • Identify and adapt a variety of instruction strategies/lessons/activities for teaching social studies which are appropriate for students from diverse backgrounds and with varying needs, interests and learning styles.
  • Locate, discuss, analyze and evaluate a variety of social studies teaching resources. List in appropriate units in annual plan.
  • Design lessons (using maps, timelines, and hands-on/minds-on) in developmentally appropriate ways.
  • Collect lessons that incorporate resources and activities that promote active student involvement. Lessons must include attention to:
    • critical thinking processesmulticultural perspectivesconcept development
    • integration with other subjects
  • Identify and develop a variety of techniques for assessment that are consistent with instructional strategies and objectives/standards.Incorporate technology into social studies learning
  • Identify different views of social studies e.g. Disciplines/concepts; citizenship; critical thinking; values/moral education..

Performing Arts:

  • Demonstrate the ability to teach to the California Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards reflecting the current California Visual and Performing Arts Framework.Demonstrate specific teaching strategies as outlined in California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Professional Preparation Standards that are effective in achieving goals of artistic perception, creative expression, understanding the historical/cultural origins of arts, pursuing meaning in the arts, making informed judgments about the arts, as well as connections, relationships, and applications of the arts disciplines to each other, to other curricular areas and careers.
  • Demonstrate understanding and effective use of materials, methods, and strategies for all students (e.g. strategies appropriate for English learners, special needs students) providing them access to the visual and performing art

 Assignments (You will turn in a notebook with the following in sections): Because of the compressed time and only 12 class sessions, students are expected to attend and participate in all classes. Please see instructor if you must miss for unforeseeable circumstances. Absence will result in a lowered grade.

Section 1: Social Studies:1. Collection of grade level lessons/activities (created and found/adapted) reflecting a variety of strategies.. You may collaborate with other class members. Be sure it is clear which lessons you contributed. The thoroughness, number and depth of lessons should increase with the group size. Each class meeting should allow you to produce a part of your resource unit portfolio.

A. Design an Annual plan ---Choose one unit to develop.

B. Generate a list of a variety of resources for the unit. If you find resources appropriate for other units in you annual plan, begin lists for each unit.

C. Include "Enduring Understandings", essential questions and graphic organizer

D. Unit/Lesson Plans--

  • Design a unit with paragraph descriptions of each lesson in the unit. On a cover sheet, describe how you sequenced the unit and why you chose the strategies that you are implementing in the unit. Some of the lessons in the unit will be more fully developed by the end of the course. Other paragraphs will be developed into lessons during the teaching of the unit.
  • Develop an original Student involved lesson with primary sources
    • (Project-based and/or hands-on/minds-on) (everyone---there may be several of these lessons if a group works together)
  • Map lesson (may be "found")
  • Timeline lesson (may be "found")
  • Other lessons with a variety of strategies (may be lessons you develop and/or may be "found")
  • Indicate classroom discipline/management considerations
  • Indicate on the Annual calendar where the unit might be taught.

E. Assessment ---

  • A rubric for the "Student Involved/Primary Source Lesson
  • Ideas/suggestions for Social Studies Assesssment

2. A reflection on the signature assignment for social studies (multiple strategies):

Effective classroom teachers realize that they have numerous instructional options, from which to choose, for teaching history-social science depending upon whether the focus is content, skills, and/or attitudes. Choosing an appropriate instructional model requires an alignment of instructional objectives, assessment needs, the special needs of some learners, the background knowledge of learners, and the group dynamics within a classroom. This signature assignment offers candidates opportunities to investigate, choose, plan, implement, assess, and/or reflect on instructional models in K-8 classrooms that engage students' interest and satisfy the criteria for lesson and unit-based instruction from the California History-Social Science Standards.


Section 2: Performing Arts

1. A collection of lessons from at least one of the areas: Visual Arts, Drama/Story Telling, Dance, Music including both appreciation and participation. The lessons should reflect all apsects of the visual and performing arts criteria e.g. artistic perception, creative expression, understanding the historical/cultural origins of arts, pursuing meaning in the arts).

  • The lessons should relate to the social studies unit.
  • Try the lessons out, make a sample/example if possible.
  • Try to include a variety of performing arts lessons

Course Schedule




Class Activity and resources

Readings-after class

Assignments: Classwork and Homework


June 2 (Mon)


1. What is Social Studies?

2. Syllabus: What will we be studying this summer?

Components of Social studies

Anthropology Boxes

How do you know what to teach and how can you fit it all in?


Schell: Chapters 1, 2

H/SS Framework pp1-31; skim 32-115, read carefully the grade level you are targeting and page 75 and 115

Frameworks online: (pdf)

Sketch out, notes on annual plan for your grade level

Reflection: What are the attributes of meaningful, well-planned social studies lessons?

What is an annual plan?

2 & 3

June 3 (T) &

June 4 (W)


Social Studies:

How do we mesh the standards and the framework?

How can you locate children's literature related to your unit?

How do you locate resources for your unit? For you as the teacher? For your students?

What is a unit?

Annual Planning,

2nd grade 1, 2, 3

5th grade 1, 2, 3


Identifying Unit Choose teams, grade level and themes.

Schnell: Chapter 3 & 4: What do we teach in social studies & Teaching SS for Understanding

Chapter 7 pages 180-186 only

Resources by grade level and standards:




Searching the web for resources, evaluating resources.

Reflection: What are the advantages and disadvantages of an annual plan? Why start with resources in designing units? In your head, be ready to discuss at the opening of the next class meeting.

Begin locating resources for units.

Create an Annual plan for your grade level, chose a specific unit to begin to plan to, add resources. Later you will develop strategies and lessons that fit into your chosen unit.

Choose and list a minimum of 10 selections of children's literature related to social studies and unit topic.



June 5(Th)

Social Studies


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

3. Locate primary sources, Web quests relevant to your unit/lessons or for your grade level.

(Works of art and literature)

(Resources continued)

What Happened at Lexington Green?

What are primary sources?

Concepts and thinking processes in this lesson?



Schnell: Chapters 5 + remainder of chapter 7.

Lexington Green resources: 6 accounts

Examples of Themes

What are primary sources?

  • Identify grade level concepts
  • Continue locating resources for your unit.

Reflection: How would you support second language learning in the artifact lesson? In the Lexington Green unit? How do the artifact lesson and Lexington Green lesson prepare? Why did I choose these lessons for you to sample?

  • List student and teacher resources pertinent to your units;
  • Locate primary sources for your lesson,

identify disciplines and concepts for a unit

Resource Planning Guide

rubric for resources

5 & 6

June 9 (M) & June 10 (T)

Social Studies:

Textbooks: How do we use them?

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

Building Units: -HLQ

(Tuesday: Bring to class 50 Social Studies Strategies for K-8 Classrooms)


House on Maple Street: Using literature as a graphic organizer



Schnell: Chapter 6: Effective use of Literature



  • Create or find a developmentally appropriate timeline lesson

    • and map lesson
  • Write out a concept analysis of at least one concept from a lesson (use map, time lines or primary sources activities as a model.
  • 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.


7 June 11 (W)

Graphic Organizers

-enduring understandings

-essential questions


graphic organizers introduced

Schnell: Chapter 8: Real World Teaching and Learning

Graphic Organizer examples:

What are "enduring understandings"? Identify what the enduring understandings will be for your unit.

Generate essential questions for your unit.

  • Develop a graphic organizer (concept based)
  • Discussion: How can technology become "value added for social studies instruction? If a teacher is not "comfortable" with certain strategies (e.g. "not my style", can (should) he/she become effective with these strategies?
  • Develop or find other lessons appropriate for your unit.
  • Be sure to include a variety of strategies/activities.


June 11 (Th)

Social Studies: Begin "What else is Social studies project?"

Choose topics

Begin research

Character Ed Civic Duties Current Events Global Educ. Humanities Literacy & SS Social Action

Reading: 50 Projects in Social Studies


Continue working on lessons

Continue research on "What else?"


June 16 (M)

Social Studies: How does the state department of education evaluate social studies?

How will you assess your students and your teaching?

Using different models of assessment, developing rubrics

Short History

C.L.A. S. Assessment

Schnell: Chapters 9

Learning Styles and Strategies

Cooperative learning activities



  • Include a lesson rubric for hands-on/minds-on (primary source) lesson




June 17 (T)

Social Studies: Continue on "What Else in Social Studies?"

Including Performing Arts

Signature Assignment


Schnell: Chapter 10



June 18 (W)

Teach lessons to children or peers Evaluate, feedback on teaching



Teach all or part of your unit during the fall semester, reflect and upload to Taskstream.


12 June 19 (Th)

Social Studies:

Share: What else is social studies powerpoints.

  What information from the presentations might you use in your grade level in units? Indicate on annual plan

Signature Assignment: Due, uploaded in Taskstream by December 18 Midnight

Bring Notebook to class