In a discipline that is often not a hands on experience, social studies education is shifting with the recent adoption of the Social Studies Framework and the Inquiries. Imagine sitting down in a classroom, having a teacher read a break-up note found on the floor only to discover, that the reasons for breaking up were very similar to the reasons the American Colonies separated from the empire of Great Britain. This is staging the compelling question to the Grade 5 Inquiry where the students have to investigate, “Why do countries declare independence?” Teachers now have at their fingertips, the excitement of a catapult! This is what historians do and it is what makes history come alive. Sifting through numerous sources to come to your own conclusion and convey that conclusion, is what historians do in real life (yes, they do exist!). What can students make or produce in social studies? They design ideas and hypotheses, potentially solve a mystery!
Think about why the Indiana Jones franchise is so popular. Indy studied multiple sources, came to a conclusion and solved a problem. True, we cannot offer the excitement of a pit of snakes, going over a waterfall or face-melting, we can give students the opportunity to examine sources and create their own conclusion.
Social studies teachers, what is your pumpkin?
About the author - Marcy Sweetman is a Staff Development Specialist with the Integrated Education Services team.She previously taught US History and Advanced Placement US History.