How is  social studies instruction utilizing reading, writing, listening, speaking, and the dramatic arts? How could you improve in these areas? How is  social studies instruction utilizing reading, writing, listening, speaking, and the dramatic arts? How could you improve in these areas?

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Honestly, most social studies instruction I have seen just have students read a textbook. However, using simulations to act out history, watching videos and reading primary sources are some of the best ways to make history come to life. Research and student presentations, as well as guest speakers, are also good.
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I remember, in some of my social studies classes, being made to participate in very interesting, almost "dramatic" activities.  For instance, I remember that one of my teachers made us put on a mock trial, with judge, jury, witnesses, accused, defense attorney, prosecuting attorney, etc. I assume that the purpose of the exercise was to teach us some fundamentals of the U. S. justice system, and it certainly did that, but it also brought social studies to life in a very memorable way.  I've never forgotten it.

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Too many students view history and the social sciences as their least favorite class, so a word here on the importance of the dramatic arts.  I think being an effective history teacher is being an effective storyteller.  There are SO MANY good stories that can catch your students' interest and help to develop an affection for learning the subject, it's important to stick the landing, as it were.

So we have to be actors in the classroom.  We have to expect, as Theodore Sizer once wrote, that our students will only be as interested in the subject as we are.  We need to use humor, be willing to look foolish once in a while, and get them out of the book and their chairs.

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The ways we include reading and writing into a subject area like social studies are probably fairly obvious, so I will focus on the dramatic arts inclusion part of this question.  I have seen many wonderful social studies teachers include the dramatic arts into their lesson plans.  One great way is to have students perform a presentation for their classmates.  They might reenact some specific event in history or host a special event.  I have seen many classes do wonderful reenactments of the "I have a dream speech" and other special presentations for Black History Month or Martin Luther King day.  Some classes have created mock trials for historical figures.  I think a good teacher will include as many different styles of learning into the course work as possible.  A good teacher will include reading, writing, listening, speaking, and dramatic arts (among others) on a regular basis.  Of course, not every lesson is going to contain every learning style, but a well planned mix throughout the term should be utilized.

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Good social studies teachers, just like good teachers in other disciplines recognize that there are varied components to student learning and that each student has a his or her own "best" way to learn. With that, teachers need to consciously think about how to vary their instruction and assessments to best meet all students. For example, in a unit on the Civil War, the teacher could lecture some of the information, have the students read something written by a young soldier during the war, study the photographs of the time period, reinact in some small way an event of the war or something related to it -- perhaps the signing of the peace treaty, and they could write an essay on some other aspect of the war and its affect on the nation. It takes some effort and flexibility, but students certainly benefit!

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I really enjoyed teaching Sociology and I miss it a lot. Obviously how you respond to this question depends a lot on the teacher concerned and how creative they are, but I personally think that teaching social sciences lends itself easily to very creative teaching methods such as role plays. A colleague of mine gets her students to act in strange ways in the dining hall of our school and gets other students to record the reactions they receive. Such strategies are highly effective.

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Social studies is one of the most diverse elemenatary and middle school subjects.  It takes into account citizenship, community, history, government, and the individual.  In many ways, social studies could be combined as a reading/language arts class, because so much of the material is learned through reading, discussion, and writing.

I'm going to guess that the second part of the question is personal, and encourage you to answer it for yourself.  Personally, I am pretty good at incorporating all of these things into my daily lessons.

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One of the ways that I think Social Studies should be utilizing reading and isn't is the use of more primary sources and more scholarly books or articles rather than dependence on a text book.  So many students think of history as the study of "facts" or trying to memorize dates and places and names when it is actually far more about how history is recorded and human bias and so many other things.

Instead of reading that Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, have a student read about her and understand that that moment was planned and that she participated in other civil rights actions prior to and after that particular one.  Students might get to know more about her as a person instead of just thinking she was the little old lady who wouldn't move to the back of the bus.

The same could be said for almost any historical character and the benefits students could derive from knowing them as an entire person would be inestimable and perhaps help more students be genuinely interested in history throughout their lives rather than just studying for tests and promptly forgetting everything.

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