Social Studies Research and Practice
Volume 5, Number 1, Spring 2010
READY-TO-TEACH ~ Teaching Elementary Social Studies Methods: Looking Back to Move Forward
University of Virginia
With increased curricular and classroom demands, teaching social studies content and skills can be challenging, especially in elementary schools. Although educators are encouraged to promote critical thinking, collaboration and problem solving, classroom time is increasingly spent preparing students to pass state-mandated tests that emphasize factual recall. This article highlights the importance of self-study through the praxis of one teacher educator. To address the shifting instructional and professional demands, she modified and updated an elementary social studies methods course over a five-year period. Through analysis of documents, observations, and students’ feedback, the methods course and student learning outcomes changed significantly over time. This article addresses the need for social studies teacher educators to re-evaluate their own praxis, as some existing teacher education program models and course programs do not address today’s changing teaching and learning climates. Deliberate self-study, coupled with professional collaborations across school and university boundaries, can be key steps to improve learning outcomes for all.
Key Words: collaboration in instruction, professional development, self-study, social studies teaching