Social Studies

Vision:

All SPS students will participate in a rigorous, standards-based Social Studies program and will be prepared for college-level history coursework, to be competitive in the global work force and to be responsible citizens who are informed, thoughtful, and active participants in their communities.

Goals:

All students will achieve at a high level on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Continuum test in the area of Literacy.

All students will increase personal and social awareness by placing emphasis on values and interpersonal relationships.

Guiding Principles:

Students are empowered and capable of comprehending, appreciating, and participating in a diverse, complex, global society.

Critical thinking skills are essential to the development of student independence and the creation of empowered, responsible citizens.

Rich Social Studies instruction develops critical literacy through the processes and practices of thinking and reading like a historian. This instruction is essential as students make meaning across time, place, and cultures.

Social Studies assessment is a process of ongoing, formative evaluation designed to provide targeted feedback toward mastery of the Social Studies standards.

High Quality Social Studies Learning and Instruction:

Teachers will:

  • Emphasize a deep of development of important ideas within an appropriate range of topics.
  • Integrate their treatment of topics, across time and space, and across the curricula.
  • Treat the social world realistically by guiding students to consider the ethical dimensions of topics and by addressing controversial issues.
  • Model seriousness of purpose and a thoughtful approach to inquiry and use strategies designed to elicit and support similar qualities from students.
  • Gradually move from providing considerable guidance by modeling, explaining, or supplying information that builds student knowledge, to a less directive role that encourages students to become independent and self-regulated learners.

Students will:

  • Learn connected networks of knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes they will find useful both in and outside of school.
  • Think critically and make meaningful decisions about social issues.
  • Be exposed to many informational sources that include varying perspectives on topics and conflicting opinions on controversial issues – requiring thoughtful examination of the content, not just retrieval of information from memory.
  • Develop new understanding through a process of active construction of knowledge.

Coverage approach vs. Inquiry method of teaching and learning of Social Studies:

Coverage Approach

Inquiry Method
  • Teacher selection and direction
  • Assigned topics and isolated facts
  • Solitary work
  • Memorization
  • As if/surrogate learning
  • Student compliance
  • Student as information receiver
  • Quiet and listening
  • Teacher as expert and presenter
  • One subject at a time
  • Reliance on a textbook
  • Verbal sources only
  • Hearing about a discipline
  • Extrinsic motivators
  • Forgetting and moving to next unit
  • Filling in bubbles and blanks
  • Student voice and choice
  • Questions and concepts
  • Collaborative work
  • Strategic thinking
  • Authentic investigations
  • Student responsibility
  • Student as knowledge creator
  • Interaction and talk
  • Teacher as model and coach
  • Cross-disciplinary studies
  • Multiple resources
  • Multimodal learning
  • Engaging in a discipline
  • Real purpose and audience
  • Caring and taking action
  • Performance and self-assessment

Professional Development will:

  • Focus on standards-based Social Studies standards
  • Focus on effective instructional practices as well as content
  • Be designed based on student outcome data and teacher needs
  • Be designed collaboratively with teachers and administrators
  • Be timely, responsive, and flexible

Implementation and Action Plan:

We outline three stages in the implementation of a high quality Social Studies program for all SPS students.

Stage One: Standardized the Social Studies Curriculum

  • Identify grade-level Social Studies standards and expectations using both the Common Core and Connecticut Social Studies Framework
  • Identify available Social Studies resources at each school
  • Identify appropriate technology hardware and software resources to support teaching and learning

Stage Two: Develop and Share Best Practices in Social Studies Teaching and Learning

  • Identify best practices in Social Studies instruction
  • Identify high quality Social Studies instructional materials
  • Develop and implement classroom assessments to provide students with on-going feedback

Stage Three: Continuous Learning

  • Foster continual learning opportunities for students
  • Develop innovative and relevant topics (e.g., The Middle East, European Union, and China etc.)
  • Organize continual professional development opportunities for teachers
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