Chapter 8- The Methodology of Social Studies: Unit Design

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Chapter 8- The Methodology of
Social Studies: Unit Design
Learning Topics
Independent Inquiry Units of Study
Combined (Split) Grade Planning for Social Studies
Integrated Units: Combining Units Around Process Skills
Integrating Social Studies and Historical Novel Studies
The Power of Story in Social Studies: Using Literature to
Compliment the Theme of a Social Studies Inquiry
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Knowing the Learner
“Students’ learning is facilitated when teachers
view them as learners who have experiences,
ideas, and home and community resources that
can be built upon to help them master new
knowledge and skills.” ( Banks et al, 2005)
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Independent Inquiry Units of Study
• A unit is any related group of learning
episodes that are arranged around a theme.
• Units can be aligned with a single discipline
and relate to one theme.
• They could also be integrated across subject
areas.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Common Elements of Unit Plans
Regardless of the type of unit being developed, there are
some common elements regarding planning units that
should be understood. These include understanding:
 The provincial/ territorial requirements for the grade(s)
 A clear overview of the standards of the discipline
 Models for inquiry
 Procedures for unit development that incorporate the
previous three elements.
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Clarify Learning Expectations Before
Starting Unit Planning
If specific expectations are not provided for the
teacher, the teacher’s planning task is a bit more
challenging. In this case, the teacher will need to
“tease” the appropriate expectations or learning
objectives out of the topic. This can be done by
creating a brainstormed “web” around the topic to
surface the ideas the teacher has about where
exploration of the topic could lead.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Creating a Unit Concept Web
Add Figure 1 Concept Web here
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Characteristics of SMART Goals
 specific – Every expectation should say exactly what is to be learned; be
written in terms of what students will know, believe, or be able to do.
 measurable – Every expectation should be able to be assessed using one
or more approaches to determine if, and how well, students have achieved
the intended learning.
 attainable – Every expectation should be able to be learned by all students
in the class, given appropriate time and support.
 realistic- Every expectation should describe precisely what is reasonable to
expect of students, given the reality of the time, resources, and other
material to be learned.
 timely – Every expectation for learning should “fit” neatly into the whole
curriculum package being prepared for that class for that year; this allows
the skilled teacher to make connections across subject areas and those
connections support students’ understanding.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
SMART
S = specific
M = measurable
A = attainable
R = realistic
T = timely
Example: Students will be able to formulate questions to guide research and clarify information
on study topics (e.g., What are the effects of physical features on land use? How are goods
transported from one province or territory to another?)
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
SMART Goals
 This learning goal is specific. It says that the student will “formulate questions”.
 It is measurable. The teacher will be able to determine if the question(s) asked by
the student is one that will lead to effective, inquiry based research.
 It is attainable. With the appropriate instruction, support, and resources, the
student should be able to formulate questions.
 It is realistic. Again with appropriate instruction, support, and resources, the
student should be able to develop and refine questions to guide research.
 It is timely. The teacher who identifies this as a learning expectation for a student
would be designing research assignments that the students can engage in to find
answers for their questions. The questions are being asked for a purpose and are
connected to other learning.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
INSTRUCTIONAL VARIABLES
Content
Process
Product
These are the three categories of expectations.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
CATEGORIES FOR LEARNING EXPECTATIONS
• Knowledge and Understanding ( will include
mapping and graphic skills in Social Studies)
• Thinking and Inquiry
• Communication and Application
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Lining Up the Instructional Variables
with Categories of Learning
Expectations
INSTRUCTIONAL VARIABLES
CATEGORY FOR LEARNING EXPECTATIONS
Content
Knowledge and Understanding (will
include mapping and graphic skills in
Social Studies)
Process
Thinking and Inquiry
Product
Communication and Application
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Samples of Learning Expectations
Knowledge and Understanding:
Students will be able to identify the physical and social needs of residents in an
area.
Thinking and Inquiry:
Students will be able to brainstorm and ask simple questions (e.g., Who? What?
Where? When? Why?) to gain information about their local community.
Communication:
Students will be able to use appropriate words to describe relative locations of
various objects or sites within their community.
Application:
Students will be able to construct a model of their local community to show how a
person’s physical and social needs are served within the area.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Unit Development
• Benefits from the orderly and predictable
approach to developing a unit.
• Procedures can be adapted if units are
integrated.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Unit Development Procedures
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Consider the title of the unit as provided in the provincial/ territorial guideline.
Create a guiding question to focus the overall intent or “big ideas” in the unit.
Create a culminating task that addresses students’ current understanding of answers or ideas related to the
guiding question.
Deconstruct the culminating task to identify all of the sub-skills and knowledge students will need to learn in
order to be successful with the culminating task.
Identify how you will assess the culminating task.
Identify how you will evaluate the culminating task.
Brainstorm to identify substantive inquiry based activities you can have students complete to learn about the
topic.
After brainstorming, check each activity against the initial list of learning expectations that you identified or that
were given in a guideline. Code the activities to match the corresponding learning expectations (e.g., 1, 2, 3 etc.).
Generate additional activities to address any learning expectations that were not addressed through
brainstorming.
Deconstruct each activity to identify sub-skills and knowledge that will be taught to ensure students’ success
with each activity.
Identify the assessment strategy you will use to assess students’ learning for each learning expectation within
each activity.
Identify the recording device you will use to record students’ achievement in relation to each learning
expectation.
Order the activities in the sequence they will be completed.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Combined Grade Planning for
Social Studies
There are four ways to address unit design for split/ combined classes. They
include:
 Teach both grades the same content, using the same process, and requiring
the same products.
 Design process based units.
 Use a contract learning approach to instruction.
 Plan for “out-of-phase” delivery of instruction to manage two distinct
topics at one time. (See Chapter 3 for a review of The Phases of
Instruction).
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Characteristics of Activities
within Units
Activities should:
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include choice
focus on inquiry
provide individual, small group, and large group variety
get students focused because they are inherently interesting
use a wide range of resources
allow for centers or activity areas ( e.g., model making)
include career investigations
go beyond the text book
help students learn to manage time effectively
be built around strong and well understood routines
include talk among students; focused, on-task discussion
help students make connections; include mind-body connection opportunities
be fun!
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Contract Learning: Teaching By
Guiding Independent Work
• Contract learning is an approach to unit delivery that
emphasizes the products that students are to produce
and individualizes the instruction needed to achieve
success with each product.
• Contract learning can be a very effective form of
instruction in some circumstances. However, there are
some components that must be in place first to allow
contract learning to work.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Making Contract Learning Work
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Strong classroom management skills- Students must come to each task with the attitude that it must be handled
seriously, given their best effort, and with the knowledge that they will be held accountable for demonstrating their
learning. Promotive interaction is essential among students for contract learning approaches to function well.
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Effective procedures – Many activities in a classroom at one time can be chaotic unless the students know and use
the procedures the teacher has taught so that learning time is handled efficiently and with consideration for others.
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Instructional literacy skill levels- Students need to have a level of content literacy and information text skills (See
Chapter 13) that allows for independent reading and comprehension. Differentiation approaches are a critical part
of ensuring that all students benefit from this approach (See Chapter 10).
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Task monitoring strategies- The teacher needs to have an overview of all of the tasks that are required by students
for the whole unit (or for some part of the unit that will be addressed through contract learning). It is most
effective if this overview is also displayed for students to see, and if they are taught to monitor their progress with
completion of all tasks.
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Multi-tasking skills – The teacher needs to be able to scan the classroom regularly to see what students are doing
and to identify where closer monitoring and support may be needed.
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Clear standards – Students need to have examples of high quality work, in many formats, shown and explained to
them so that they understand what is expected when they engage in a task.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
In Contract Learning
To manage contract learning, the student
needs…
• A clear idea of the tasks they are to complete
• Self-monitoring skills
• Time-management skills
• Informational text skills (See Chapter 13)
• An understanding of expected standards
• A functional level of literacy to address tasks
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
In Contract Learning
To manage contract learning, the teacher needs…
• Strong classroom management
• Strong classroom procedures/ routines
• Withitness; an awareness of what is happening
elsewhere in the classroom
• Task monitoring strategies and multi-tasking skills
• Clear standards that they communicate to
students frequently.
• The confidence to try contract learning!
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Out-of-Phase Unit Example
Add Figure 12 here
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Routines to Support Unit Work
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how to enter the classroom
what to do when you’ve entered the classroom
how to pass in papers
sharpening pencils
asking permission to speak
getting into groups
what to do when you get into groups
how to get out of groups
how to break for lunch
how to exit the classroom
how to throw paper away
how to use in-class study time
how to take a test
how to work on computers
how to make notes about homework
what to do/where to go when you need help and the teacher is unavailable
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Social Skills for Primary and
Junior Children
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staying on task
contributing to the group task
developing, expanding, or building on, each person’s ideas
accommodating or assimilating ideas
speaking to others with respect
expressing opinions in a way that will be attended to by others
using appropriate body language
taking turns speaking
ensuring that group members can hear what is said
requesting clarification
rephrasing
ensuring group understanding of the task
ensuring group consensus on the approach to the task
coaching other group members to ensure common understanding
checking task progress, including using task check points, against a schedule for completion
in their group
providing evidence to support an idea or opinion
setting performance standards for the group
praising
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And…
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explaining ideas with examples
suggesting more effective wording
motivating others
providing genuine praise
planning against group timelines
developing organizers that will help group members visualize the task
using eye-to-eye contact during discussions
obtaining and sharing task materials
keeping materials and working space organized for efficient work
sharing input time
requesting clarification or rephrasing
understanding and using the strengths of different group members to complete tasks effectively
group evaluations of the process of working together
group evaluations of their products
goal setting
checking for understanding and agreement
group editing
summarizing ideas
initiating reflection on group work and products
responding positively to negative behaviour
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Using Stories to Compliment
Social Studies
• Local libraries and commercial book stores often have extensive holdings of
books that relate to Social Studies concepts in the primary/junior
curriculum.
• Book store staff is often very familiar with the books and can be helpful in
selecting books that relate to themes in courses. Using these resources will
help teachers to conserve learning time and integrate learning across
subject areas so that students can make connections within their learning.
Teachers should be sure to evaluate the reading level of any books that are
being used to supplement the curriculum to ensure ease of access for
learners.
• Multiple literacy approaches should also be considered and optimized as
approaches to using story in Social Studies.
• Literacy through media, text, photographs, artifacts, activity, and
interaction, alone or in any combination, should all be considered when
the teacher engages in unit planning.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Decision Making
The final skill in the sequence of Topic Elaboration is decision
making. Decision making is focused on addressing questions
such as “What could/ should/ might/will be done about it?”
• This is a very useful skill for students as it draws abstract
ideas towards ownership and emphasizes each student’s
role in contributing to our society in responsible and socially
just manners.
• Cultural responsiveness is dependent on students’ age
appropriate internalization of skills that lead to responsive
and sensitive multi-criterion decision making.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Teaching Decision Making to
Young Children
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When using this very mathematical approach to decision making, students will need to
have several exposures to the process to develop comfort with identifying decisional
questions, identifying options, and stating relevant criteria for the question.
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They will also need to understand that there are many types of decisions and a process
such as this is only suitable for more complex decisions when many criteria and many
options or perspectives are relevant to making a good decision.
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Students will need to be taught that they may use such a process and arrive at a
decision mathematically but the decision may not “feel” right to them. In this instance,
they will need to understand that there are other criteria that are important to their
decision that were not identified before they applied the procedure.
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Role playing and cooperative learning structures such as 4 corners and inside-outside
circles (See Chapter 3) can be used as strategies for having students identify criteria so
that the results of the mathematical process are also satisfying emotionally.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Procedure for Decision Making
• State the decisional question. (Note: Students will need to be taught the
difference between a decisional question and an informational question.)
• State the options. (If only two choices are possible, these are called
alternatives rather than options.)
• State the criteria.
• Identify the relative importance of each criterion by assigning a number
value (weight) to it (from 1 to 3 with three being the most important
criteria).
• Evaluate each option against each weighted criterion and assign a number.
• Total the columns.
• State the decision. When two totals are close and a split decision is
possible, consider that possibility.
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
Example of Decision Making Chart
Add Figure 16 here
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Social Studies: Innovative Approaches for Teachers
A Decision Making Chart can Form
a Plan for an Argumentative Essay
• P1= Introductory/ Opening Paragraph:
- The opening paragraph will state the question, and the options
(neutral, Confederation and join the US) and explain the criteria that
will be considered and which criteria might have more weight in the
decision.
• P2, P3, P4, and P5 = Body Paragraphs:
- Each option is explained against each criterion in a separate
paragraph.
• P6= Closing Paragraph: Students state their decision and explain the
other options that were considered but discarded. They react to
their feelings about the decision and explain other interesting
reactions to the decision (e.g., next steps for action).
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Procedure for Writing an
Argumentative Essay
Opening Paragraphs
1) State the topic.
2) State sub-topics/options.
3) State criteria.
4) Explain each weighted criterion in relation to each option.
Body Paragraphs
4) Write opening sentence for each paragraph (1 per option)
5) Write sentences to explain that option against each criterion.
Closing Paragraph
6) R and R (review and react). Students might also be taught the
popular responding phrase for examining stories (RETELL, REFLECT,
REACT) and use that sequence to guide writing for the closing
paragraph.
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