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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Natasha Merchant
T EDUC 562
Tacoma Campus

Social Studies Methods

Prepares prospective teachers to teach civics, economics, geography, and history. In addition to this social studies content- as required by the State of Washington-the course prepares prospective teachers to teach the skills required for and promote dispositions that support full democratic citizenship.

Class description


What creates an informed democratic citizen? How are you, as future teachers, part of this development? What does democratic citizenship mean to you? These are questions we will grapple with throughout this course. During our time together we will learn, debate and practice a variety of social studies methods while contemplating these larger questions. This course is designed for students with a B.A. degree who are pursuing a career in K-8 education. The class structure hopes to prepare you to:

Student learning goals

Develop a teaching philosophy in which Social Studies plays a prominent role

Develop a repertoire of teaching strategies that foster democratic engagement

Understand the Social Studies standards and reflect on how to employee them such that they are meaningful and relevant to student’s lives

General method of instruction

Course Content

Our class will move quickly through learning and practicing various Social Studies instructional strategies. Below is a list of the teaching tools we will engage with during this course: (Please note that each student is to keep track of these instructional strategies on the Methods Chart* shown on page 6) • Inquiry Method: The inquiry lesson plan is “where students analyze historical evidence in order to form and test hypotheses about past events. Inquiry lessons introduce students to the "doing" of history. Through using evidence to investigate historical questions, students are given the opportunity to see that history is not just a collection of facts, but rather a rigorously constructed set of arguments. As students encounter new and in some cases contradictory evidence, they are asked to reconsider their initial views, learning that interpretations of the past can change based on the available historical evidence.” ( Your plan will be informed by an in-class example modeling the process of inquiry and a packet of examples on Inquiry lesson plans. You will also gather a lot more information about inquiry by visiting .

• Concept Formation: In this assignment, you will plan a lesson in which students are guided to build a concept, also thought of as a powerful idea. Instead of an approach where the teacher gives students the concept and helps the deepening of understanding by sharing examples of that concept, you will offer students structured opportunities to inductively construct the concept through a thorough examination of examples and non-examples. You will choose a concept and create a lesson plan according to the State GLEs. Ultimately concept formation helps students classify and categorize information of a certain idea and it also offers students a way to think about how any big idea is built.

• Teaching Controversies: Each student will create a lesson plan teaching a controversial issue. Through this process students will reflect on how they can teach this lesson while not alienating any students, and mitigating issues that may distract from learning. Students will consider why this issue is controversial and predict potential areas of controversy in your lesson plan.

• Understanding CBA’s through AIW framework: Classroom Based Assessments (CBA) are Washington State’s Social Studies assessment. Newmann et al.’s Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) framework offers a way to determine the extent to which assigned tasks are engaging students in AIW. We will use this framework to evaluate the CBAs.

• Structured Academic Controversy: “Academic controversy is the instructional use of intellectual conflict to promote higher achievement and increase the quality of problem solving, decision making, critical thinking, reasoning, interpersonal relationships, and psychological health and well being. To engage in an academic controversy, students must research and prepare a position, present and advocate their position, refute opposing positions and rebut attacks on their own position, reverse perspectives, and create a synthesis that everyone can agree to” (Johnson and Johnson, University of Minnesota Center for Cooperative Learning) We will have a chance to practice this method in-class.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

The course assignments are designed to offer practice in deeply understanding each instructional strategy as well as reflecting on the usefulness of the strategies in a variety of teaching contexts. In addition, each assignment serves as an assessment of your understanding of the material as well as my ability to communicate the material in a meaningful and comprehensible way.

The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Natasha Merchant
Date: 06/04/2012