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Strategies for teaching Social Studies

Strategies for teaching Social Studies Editorial Board
Here are some strategies for teaching social studies for making the students get involved in the teaching process in the class. They may help our teachers in trying to make social studies lesson as child-centered as possible.
Case study:

Case studies provide a way to systematically analyze problems and issues for a variety of purposes including testing hypothesis; determining causes, effects and solutions; and guiding future courses of action and lines of investigation. Case study vary in types from those that examine unique events, problems or issues to those that examine common ones. Case studies are particularly useful in that they offer teachers a way to take a large amount of information or a pressing problem and have students learn about it through the lens of a single, generalization case. Case developed for study can be real, fictional or hypothetical.

1. Select or write a case story involving an event, episode or court case that embodies the concept or understanding that you want students to acquire. Scenarios that serve as the prototypical characteristics of an issue or phenomenon. The following are frequently cited characteristics of good cases: they are short, tell a compelling story, trigger differences of opinion, demand a decision, evoke empathy toward one or more characters, and are relevant to our lives.
1. Develop the case include

   (a) A description of the facts

   (b) An overview of the problem or issue

   (c) Court cases may include a decision or be left open-ended for students to decide.

2. Identify and analyze the facts. Which ones are most important and why?
3. Frame the issue. What is the problem, issue, matter to be resolved or decision to be made?
4. Identify the alternatives. What are the various positions or courses of action that might take?
5. Analyze the alternatives. Which positions or courses of action seem most and least reasonable?
6. Debate the issue.
7. Reach a decision or fortunate a hypothesis, conclusion, or interpretation.
8. Debrief; ask students...

   (a) Why is this case study significant?

   (b) How might this case impact us?

   (c) In what way might this case be relevant to our lives?

Concept formation
1. Identify a concept that you plan to teach.
2. Create 4 examples of the concept using a plus sign or a smiley face to indicate that it is an example of the concept.
3. Create 3 non-examples of the concept using a negative sign or frowning face to indicate that it is a non-example.
4. Present example and non- examples one at time in alternating progression.
5. Have the students guess what the concept is as each example or non-example is presented.
6. Don't reveal the concept until all examples and non-examples have been presented.
7. Use the positive examples of flesh out the qualities or definition of the concept.

Example of concept formation activity:
What is concept?
(+) obeying the law
(-) free speech
(+) paying taxes
(-) remain silent
(+) military service
(-) obtain a driver's license
(+) serving on a jury


Graffiti groups
1. Select overarching questions, topic, or concept.
2. Breakdown the overarching questions, topic, or concept into subordinate questions. For example:
a. How might leaders become leaders?
b. Why is government given certain powers?
c. Why is government needed?
d. How does a government get its authority?
e. How might government be structured differently?
3. Arrange students in groups of 3-5
4. Give each group one marker and the large piece of poster paper with one of the subordinate questions written on the top of each paper. Each group should be given a different colored marker.
5. Present the following directions to the students: "Each group will be given 3-5 minutes to brainstorm then write one response to each of the questions on the poster papers. After time elapses, the poster paper will be circulated to the next group. Each group is asked to come up with a different response and add it to the paper. When groups receive their original question back with response from every group, they are to summarize or synthesize the responses and present their summaries to the rest of the class.
6. Brainstorm, select and responds- groups are given 3-5 minutes to discuss then contribute to the graffiti poster paper.
7. Groups switch papers and questions. Repeat step 6 noting that subsequent groups may need more time to think of response not recorded previously.
8. Evaluate and synthesize: when each group receives its original question with responses from all other groups, they are to evaluate and synthesize the information. What may be accurate, credible, naïve.... about the response? What might be some of the "big ideas" that emerge?
9. Presentations: each group presents its synthesis briefly to the rest of the class.
10. Posting: hanging the graffiti posters around the room, bulletin board or hallway to draw ongoing attention to the topic, question, or concept. Leave a marker nearby for students to add additional responses before or after class, or after they have completed an in-class assignment.


Teams-games- tournaments: Cooperative learning Strategies
1. Select a instructional topic on present it to the students.
2. Develop a list of questions on the topic. Number them. Cut out them small pieces of paper and number them so that the total matches the number of questions that you have developed for the topic to measure understanding questions, create small pieces of paper with numbers. Give a set of questions to one student in each group who reads the questions as their corresponding numbers are drawn from the pile.
Tip: have student place any numbers for which they were unable to come up with the correct answers in a small bag. Collect those numbers and use them to guide what you will re teach.
3. Team game- place students in heterogeneous groups of 4-5 by ability and have them review material during this "team" phase by selecting a number from the pile. Group must be equal in size. Give each group a "letter identity".
4. Tournament- place students in new groups made up of individuals from each of the "Team Review" table. All students 1s go to table(these might be lower achieving students) while all students 2s (higher achieving) go to table 2. In the "Game" phase, students are placed in homogeneous groups with students of similar ability and compete against one another. For every question a student answers correctly, he/she earns a point. One person at each "tournament table" must keep scores for every individual at the "Game" table.
5. Students return to their Team Game tables and report their scores. Team scores are compared and the winning team earns a reward.
6. Students take an assessment. The scores for each team (A,B,C) are compiled and averaged. Offer "bonus points" for the team that earns the highest average and/or "improvement point" to the team that improves its average the most over previous assessments.

Jigsaw: Cooperative, Learning Strategies
1. Select a topic, concept, theme, issue and break it into part.
2. Place students in expert groups.
3. Assign each group a piece of the "Puzzle" and ask them to develop an expertise in that piece.
4. Send individual "expert" into mixed groups and have them share their expertise.
Double exposure

This strategy is effective in helping students understand one reason why historian sometimes arrive at different conclusions about the pas.
1. Select a topic for exploration.
2. Gather two photographs that are likely to lead students to competing descriptions of a person, event, institution, society etc.
3. Jigsaw: Split the class into halves. Divide students in both halves into small groups and distribute photograph A to some groups and photographs B to other groups.
4. Have students analyze the photograph and discuss the following in the small groups: What does this photograph suggest about the topic?
5. Take students who analyzed photograph A and pair them off with the students who analyzed photograph B. ask each students in the paired group to describe the conclusions they drew from their photographs. If the photographs are well selected, students should arrive at competing conclusions.
6. Ask students "why might historians arrive at different conclusions about the past?
7. Debrief: explain that history is filled with different interpretations about the past. One reason for the different interpretations is that historians often rely on different pieces of evidence to construct their accounts. Your experiences with the photographs suggest that there may be more than one story about the past.

Dueling Documents
This strategy is effective in helping students understand one reason why historians sometimes arrive at different conclusions about the past.
1. Select a topic exploration.
2. Gather two documents that offer competing descriptions of a person, event, institution, society etc.
3. Jigsaw: Split the class into halves. Divide students in both halves into small groups and distribute photograph A to some groups and photograph B to other groups.
4. Have students read and analyze their document and discuss the following in their small groups. What does this document suggest about the topic?
5. Take students who analyzed document A and pair them off with students who analyzed document B. ask each student in the paired group to describe the conclusions they drew from their photograph. If the photographs are well selected, students should arrive at competing conclusions.
6. Tell the students that they are now going to play a game of dueling documents. Explain that they have two documents that are competing to tell the story of the past. Their task is to decide which document should win the duel. Ask them to discuss the following questions as they decide which document wins the duel.

1. Select a topic, problem, assertion or questions to be discussed, solved, deliberated or debated.
2. Select or create learning support that will support substantive discussion. Present the supports to the students. Alternative- provide students with sufficient time to conduct research on the topic, problem, assertion, or question.
3. Arrange desks or chairs so that there is a small inner circle for the "fish" who will actively discuss and larger outer circle for the "observers".
4. Teacher or students select members of the inner circle. Members of the inner circle take their seats.
5. Teacher begins discussion by posing the topic to the inner circle. Write the topic, problem, assertion or the question on the board to maintain focus.

Introduce or expose students to a problematic situation or area of uncertainty.
Invest students to...
1. Formulate questions to guide the investigation.
2. Propose preliminary explanations or the hypotheses.
3. Plan and conduct an investigation.
4. Gather evidence through research, observation or experiment.
5. Explain the conclusion, interpretation or theory based on evidence.

This strategy is often used prior to instruct to activate prior knowledge, to surface students interest then after instruction to prompt reflection on what they have learned.
1. Create a handout and transparency with a three column. Place a letter "K: at the top of the column 1, the letter "W' at the top of column 2, and the letter "L" at the top column 3. Distribute copies of the handout to students. Instead of a transparency you may simply draw the KWL chart on the board.
2. Introduce the topic or concept to be studied.

Model United Nations
Step1. Selecting topics
Select a topic or topics of international concerns that you want your students to discuss, or an international problem for which you want your students to develop proposed solutions.

Step2. Selecting a U.N Context
Optional- depending on how realistic you want your simulation to be, you can choose to have the students simulate the work of one of variety of United Nations "organ".

Step3. Identification of countries (or states)
Identify countries that have stakes in the problem. The selection of countries should be based on their representing divergent views on the topics you have selected for the simulation. Select one country for every 2-3 students.

Step4. Assignment of Roles
Assign 2-3 students to the role of a delegate from each of the countries. They will become the "delegations" for the simulation. Have students research the position of their assigned countries on the topics that will be discussed during the simulation.

Step5. Developing Resolution
A "resolution" is a proposed policy, statement, or course of action that is recommended for adoption by the United Nations.
Approach A-have students write their own resolutions.
Approach B- write resolutions for the students to consider.

Step6. Create an Agenda
Collect and number all of the resolutions that will be considered. Have students vote on which resolution will be discussed.

Step7. Create a Speaker's list
A speaker's list is a list of countries that will be permitted to speak on the topic. To get on a speaker's list, delegate simply has to volunteer. Time limits are usually imposed on the speeches and 2-3 questions from other delegates are typically permitted at the end of the speech.

Step8. Discuss (debate) and Vote
Post it poll
This simple strategy is useful prior to debate or discussion as a way for instructional planners to see if there are actually differences of opinion that might enhance the discussion. This strategy can also be sued to invite changes of opinion and to gauge the impact of the discussion.

Problem- Based learning (BPL).
1. Select a problem.
2. Discuss problem solving strategies.
3. Introduce the problem to the students.
4. Have students clarify the problem.
5. Assign students to stakeholders group or roles to develop solutions or positions.
6. Move students to jigsaw groups comprised of every role to try to reach an agreement or solution to the problem.
7. Debrief.

Stay or Stray
1. Select a topic to be explored. The topic should be multi-faceted.
2. Explain procedures to students before implementing them so that students know what will be expected of them.
3. Jigsaw information gathering: place students in small group and assign a reading, recording etc that offers information about one facet of the topic.
4. Assign each students a number from 1-3. Tell students that they are now going to explore different facet of the topic and that each will get turn to be the teacher while others have an opportunity to learn from their peers.

Synectics-Understanding together
1. Select a topic or concept to be studied.
2. Provide factual information on the topic.
3. Present an analogy. Suggest some similarities between the two beings compared.
4. Personalize the analogy. Ask students to describe in a single word what it feel like to be a layer cake.

Take a Stand
1. Select an issue.
2. Ask the students to identify their positions on the issue.
3. Ask for 1-2 students who strongly support 1-2 students who strongly oppose, and 1-2 students who have mixed opinions.
4. Post signs in the front of the room. The signs should be at opposite end of the board.
5. Ask the volunteer who strongly support to come up to front of the room and stand under the sign that states "strongly support".
Recommended reading: law in your life by Mary C. Larkin (contributing authors Elizabeth Chorak and Wanda Routier). Publisher: West Education Publishing, 1990.