Social Studies Teaching Strategies

Choosing a teaching strategy can be the toughest choice a teacher has to make. How can one make a decision on a teaching strategy for social studies when there are so many layers even within one teaching approach? In chapter 7 of “Teaching and Learning Social Studies,” Arthur K. Ellis introduces strategies that a teacher can choose from to teach social studies in their classroom. According to Ellis, there is not one way to approaching this daunting subject. Ellis lists five principles he believes should be foundations when choosing a strategy. The principles are active engage, collaboration, scaffolding, classroom climate, and the “less is more” saying to be primary when choosing an effective teaching and learning social studies strategy.

The two main strategies are categorized as direct instruction strategies and indirect instruction strategies. Direct instruction strategies are the transfer of information from source to receiver. The information can come from a number of sources but students are mainly the ones who receive them. The sub strategies entail teacher presentation, class discussion, and demonstration. In contrast, indirect instruction strategies carries out the information in a way that students are responsible for their own learning. This approach is much more democratic and students are a lot more independent. The sub strategies for indirect instruction includes role-play, interest centers, group investigations and projects, independent study and presentation, reflecting think, brainstorming, creative expression, content analysis, differentiated assignments, jigsaw/peer teaching and cooperative learning, simulations, and computer simulations.

The competencies I believe to aligns with my ways of thinking are:

1.F.5.C “Model and create classroom environments where students practice skills of inquiry by:

1.F.5.C.1 “Listening to multiple perspectives.”

1.F.5.C.2 “Developing questions and planning investigations.”

As a former English Language Learner (ELL), I benefitted from learning from teachers who taught in number of ways. It was important that students kept me engaged throughout the lessons as well as gave me opportunities to express my knowledge. Students need to be engaged throughout a lesson if we want them to contain any information we teach them. We also want them to take charge of their learning by putting themselves in a teacher’s shoe. At the conclusion of the chapter, Ellis emphasized the importance of finding a balance between the two strategies. A teacher must be able to facilitate a successful class discussion (direction instruction) and compose assignments that students can work as a group to find information (indirect instruction). Having the little experience in my 2nd grade classroom thus far, I see myself using direction instruction through by constant presentation of information (source) to students (receivers) during their social studies hour. This awareness will hopefully enable me to try other ways to approach students with information.

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