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Issues in Social Studies Middle School for Action Research

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leggomymegot leggomymegot is offline
 
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Issues in Social Studies Middle School for Action Research
Old 05-31-2014, 04:14 AM
 
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I am currently pursuing my Master's in Teaching and will have to complete an Action Research project during my internship next year. In the meantime, I have been assigned to come up with an Action Research Proposal based on what issues or concerns there are in our content area classrooms. I plan to teach Social Studies in middle or high school, but I am currently working in the insurance industry and have no formal experience as a teacher in the classroom so I have no idea.

So, any ideas for what issues there are in the SS classroom out there from seasoned teachers would be greatly appreciated.


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SS issues
Old 05-31-2014, 07:06 AM
 
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I don't teach social studies, but one idea I would have would be bias in textbooks and other print material (or source bias- how certain newspapers/websites put their own spin on information).
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addressing bias is a good idea
Old 05-31-2014, 11:36 AM
 
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I agree with the pp. One issue that I deal with very frequently is bias in my textbook series. Our books were published in 2011 but use the terms 'blacks' and 'American Indians' throughout. Now, I know that some people are OK with American Indians, but many of my students have expressed that they prefer 'Native Americans.' Some of them are also clearly uncomfortable with the term 'blacks'- they've told me so- instead of African American. My class is very diverse, so I've chosen to address these issues directly, bringing them up before they do and pointing out that the textbook manufacturer chose to use these terms. I also find that the textbook presents religious faith-based ideas as facts, so I choose to start my sentences with "Muslims believe...." or Christians believe....." when teaching. I fear that if Social Studies teachers are not careful in our speech, we could find ourselves as a news story. I rely on the fact that my Board of Education approved the textbook series as a point of defense.
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Old 05-31-2014, 01:11 PM
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Old 06-01-2014, 06:05 AM
 
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I would say the biggest issue for social studies is that many elementary teachers don't teach it! With the huge focus on reading and math scores, many teachers push aside social studies. This has resulted in kids that lack a depth of knowledge. The lack of knowledge becomes more apparent as middle school and junior high teachers get into higher level stories and social studies content. As we try to tap into prior knowledge to build understanding, the vacant stares make it apparent that there is no prior knowledge!
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I Have to Agree...
Old 06-02-2014, 08:43 AM
 
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Readn gal... you hit the nail on the head. I am a fifth grade teacher and have been one for several years. We push SSCI to the side. It's pathetic. And TRUST ME--- I do not want to. I have fought for years that we can teach reading comprehension concepts with SSCI curriculum, but the Principals and the DO never go for it. They bought the reading program, and you darn well better use it. Our minutes are a joke too. They leave a measly 30 min. a day for SSCI AND Science! In CA, fifth graders take a science standardized test. So what's get the cold shoulder, SOCIAL STUDIES. I hate it. I have a HISTORY degree. It pains me when children cannot read a map, they have no concept of our governmental system, they don't know when any warrs were fought or why, they cannot read a timeline.... I can go on and on. I guerilla teach and squeeze in as much as I can, but it is sad.

The craziest part of all of it is that I am moving to a middle school next year to teach Social Studies. So at least I have the understanding that these students do not know a lot and that there prior knowledge is pretty much zero. I am xeroxing tons of my fifth grade SSCI worksheets and downloading the texts and the ancillary lessons onto a flash drive. I figured I could give these out as homework or as an intervention lesson when the class does not grasp something within the eighth grade text.

I guess I am going to get a taste of what a lack of history and SSCI in the elementary classroom is like! It's just a sad state of affairs all around.


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Old 06-03-2014, 02:01 PM
 
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If you want it to be useful for your teaching I highly recommend doing something on the changing nature of social studies instruction due to common core, specifically making it about inquiry instead of memorization. I did mine two years ago on the use of games and experiential exercises for instruction compared to lecture and traditional textbook reading. I greatly enjoyed it but where it really led me was to show games and experiences are really just the tip of iceberg on "new teaching" versus "old" in social studies.

I'd recommend checking out the Stanford History Education Group at http://sheg.stanford.edu/home_page for more.
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Old 06-03-2014, 04:32 PM
 
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Besides the issues mentioned, not only is there a lack of background knowledge (or they had it but don't retain it), but also literacy problems. Fortunately, my background in teaching reading through the content areas (vocab, context clues, study skills, reading informational text, etc.) has always been a huge help to teach how to read, understand, and remember the reading materials used.
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