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Purpose of the Social Studies
The purpose of social studies is to prepare students for citizenship in a diverse democratic society and participation in an interdependent global community.
The social studies curriculum:
Social Studies in AISD
Social Studies Skills
Skills important for success in social studies are closely aligned with skills in language arts and science. In fact, social studies activities and projects provide many opportunity to practice and apply skills from other disciplines.
Oral Language Skills
At the primary level, social studies provides students opportunities to improve their speaking skills as they work cooperatively to resolve academic and classroom problems and to tell stories about or describe people and events in their families and community.
As social studies students grow older, they should make formal oral presentations, participate in small and large group discussions, and defend their opinions on historical and contemporary social issues.
Writing is an important social studies skill, and students should be expected to write developmentally appropriate descriptions of events, research findings, opinion papers, etc. Writing assignments in social studies should reflect the writing skills identified in the language arts curriculum. Social studies students should practice the same prewriting, drafting, reviewing, editing, and publishing steps expected in language arts classes. Similarly, the standards for grammar, mechanics, and penmanship established in language arts should be applied in social studies classes at every grade level.
Reading skills are crucial to success in social studies. In the early grades, teachers should integrate social studies-related content into their daily reading lessons. They should teach cause-effect relationships, summarization, and inferencing strategies. The ability to read and use a variety of sources to obtain social studies information is an important competency that spirals through the social studies curriculum. As students progress in school, teachers should identify and provide students with an ever greater array of reading material—historical fiction, biography, non-fictional accounts of important events, descrip-tions of interesting places, newspapers and magazines, reference books, and primary source documents. Social studies teachers should help students understand the characteristics of these different sources of information and help them learn to use them efficiently.
Critical Thinking Skills
The scientific method, so crucial to science instruction, and adapted for use by social scientists-sociologists, historians, economists, political scientists, etc.-should be emphasized in social studies. From the primary grades, social studies lessons should be organized around questions to answer or problems to solve. Teachers should help students develop hypotheses, design plans for gathering information, evaluate data, and report findings or solutions. If this approach is followed consistently, students will find social studies more engaging, and they will take greater responsibility for their own learning.
Dyslexic and Learning Different Students
Students identified as dyslexic or having learning disabilities
that affect their ability to read, write, listen, or process information
may require individual assistance. Similarly, limited English proficient
students may need the support of a bilingual or ESL teacher to master
social studies content and skills.
Advanced Learners (Gifted and Talented)
Instruction and assessment for students who are especially creative,
enjoy studying topics in depth, or process information more quickly
than their peers also can be modified. Research projects and assessments
can be designed to focus on student interests and take advantage
of their unique skills and creativity.