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Instructional Resources

Series Info

Episodes: 32

Length: 30, 60 min.

Grade Levels:
Professional Development

Social Studies

Video on Demand
Teachers Guides
Web Resources


Social Studies in Action: A Teaching Practices Library, K-12

The Social Studies in Action teaching practices library, professional development guide, and companion Web site bring to life the National Council for the Social Studies standards. Blending content and methodology, the video library documents 24 teachers and their students in K-12 classrooms across the country actively exploring the social studies.

Episode Guide

1. Introduction to the Video Library—This program presents the purpose of the Social Studies in Action video library. (30 min.)

2. A Standards Overview, K-5—This program includes K–5 classroom examples from across the country that define and illustrate the 10 NCSS thematic strands and present a variety of ways that they can be integrated into the K–5 curriculum. (60 min.)

3. Historical Change—David Kitts is a first–grade teacher on the Santo Domingo Indian Reservation in New Mexico. In his bilingual classroom, Native American students are studying the history of farming through a lesson that compares farming in eighteenth–century New England to current–day practices in the Midwest. (30 min.)

4. China Through Mapping—Mimi Norton teaches second grade at Solano Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona. In this lesson, students learn about China’s position on the globe and the location of important landmarks within the country. (30 min.)

5. Leaders, Community, and Citizens—Cynthia Vaughn teaches first grade at the Rooftop Alternative School in San Francisco, California. The objective of Ms. Vaughn’s lesson is to help her students differentiate between the titles and roles of elected officials at city, state, and country levels. (30 min.)

6. Making Bread Together—Meylin Gonzalez is a kindergarten teacher in Tampa, Florida. Ms. Gonzalez uses this lesson to introduce her students to several economic concepts, including production and cooperation. (30 min.)

7. Caring for the Community—Debbie Lerner teaches grades 1–3 at Red Bridge Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri. Red Bridge incorporates a personalized learning curriculum in which students stay in the same classroom for all three grade levels. (30 min.)

8. Celebrations of Light—Eileen Mesmer teaches a combined kindergarten and first–grade class in Salem, Massachusetts, a diverse community outside Boston. Ms. Mesmer asks her students to explore the many ways the holidays are celebrated and to find commonalities among the various celebrations. (30 min.)

9. Explorers in North America—Rob Cuddi, a fifth–grade teacher at Winthrop Middle School in Winthrop, Massachusetts, has been teaching for almost 30 years and has recently taken an active role in restructuring the social studies curriculum to accommodate both state and national standards. (30 min.)

10. California Missions—Osvaldo Rubio is a bilingual fourth–grade social studies teacher at Sherman Oaks Community Charter School in San Jose, California. Mr. Rubio’s geography lesson focuses on the location and movement of California missions. In groups, students create artistic, oral, written, and other more sophisticated audio–visual presentations. (30 min.)

11. State Government and the Role of the Citizen—Diane Kerr is a fourth–grade teacher at Butcher Greene Elementary School in the ethnically diverse community of Grandview, Missouri. Ms. Kerr presents a lesson on the state of Missouri and its three branches of government. (30 min.)

12. Using Primary Sources—Kathleen Waffle teaches fifth grade at John Muir Elementary School in San Bruno, California, a working–class suburb of San Francisco. In a unit on Colonial America, students examine an eighteenth–century business through a case study of a successful silversmith who lived in Colonial Williamsburg. (30 min.)

13. Making a Difference Through Giving—Darlene Jones–Inge is a fourth–grade teacher at O’Hearn Elementary School located in Boston’s inner city. Ms. Jones–Inge, a teacher for 10 years, presents a complex lesson that focuses on the theme of giving. (30 min.)

14. Understanding Stereotypes—Libby Sinclair is a fourth– and fifth–grade teacher at Alternative Elementary School #2 in Seattle, Washington. In her lesson, Ms. Sinclair asks her students to define the term “stereotype” from a variety of perspectives. (30 min.)

15. A Standards Overview, 6-8—Lessons from grade 6–8 classrooms illustrate how the NCSS standards and themes can be integrated into the middle school curriculum. Middle school teachers explore a number of expectations and outcomes in their lessons and build on the fundamentals established in the elementary grades. (60 min.)

16. Explorations in Archeology and History—Gwen Larsen teaches sixth–grade social studies at Harbor School in Boston, Massachusetts. In her introductory lesson, Ms. Larsen guides students through an exploration of their family histories, leading to their place in the larger human family and the development of civilizations.

17. Exploring Geography Through African History—Lisa Farrow is a seventh–grade world cultures teacher at Shiloh Middle School in a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. Ms. Farrow’s lesson provides her students with an understanding of African history and geography. (30 min.)

18. The Amistad Case—Gary Fisher is a teacher at Timilty Middle School in the urban community of Roxbury, Massachusetts, part of the greater Boston area. In his eighth–grade U.S. history class, Mr. Fisher examines the history of African American slavery through a dramatic mock trial based on the Amistad case in 1839. (30 min.)

19. Population and Resource Distribution—Becky Forristal teaches seventh–grade economics at Rockwood Valley Middle School, 20 miles outside St. Louis, Missouri. Her lesson focuses on a population simulation that explores world economics, demonstrating the inequalities in land, food, energy, and wealth distribution in the world today. (30 min.)

20. Landmark Supreme Court Cases—Wendy Ewbank teaches seventh and eighth grade at Madrona School in Bellevue, Washington. In a civics lesson on landmark Supreme Court cases, the students focus on the tension between the rights of the individual and the good of society. (30 min.)

21. The Middle East Conflict—Justin Zimmerman is a sixth-grade teacher at Magnolia School in Joppa, Maryland, about 30 miles north of Baltimore. Mr. Zimmerman explores the claims to land in the Middle East from three major religions — Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. (30 min.)

22. A Standards Overview, 9-12—This program shows a variety of complex topics from high school lessons, illustrating how the NCSS standards and themes can be integrated into teaching in grades 9–12. (60 min.)

23. Public Opinion and the Vietnam War—Liz Morrison is a ninth–grade American history teacher at Parkway South High School in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. In a lesson on the Vietnam War, Ms. Morrison explores how public opinion was shaped by key events. (30 min.)

24. Migration From Latin America—Mavis Weir teaches 10th–grade history at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, California. In this lesson, students explore the various reasons people emigrate from their homeland. (30 min.)

25. Competing Ideologies—Wendell Brooks is a teacher at the diverse Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California. Mr. Brooks’ ninth–grade history class focuses on a variety of political ideologies present during the period of World War I. (30 min.)

26. Economic Dilemmas and Solutions—Steven Page is a 12th–grade economics teacher at Vivian Gaither Senior High School in Tampa, Florida. In this lesson, students review and interpret the government’s role in the economy. (30 min.)

27. Gender-Based Distinctions—Tim Rockey teaches 12th–grade American government and politics at Sunnyslope High School in Phoenix, Arizona. Mr. Rockey reviews the concept of civil rights, with a focus on women’s rights. Students evaluate the “reasonableness” standard as set by the court and come to understand where the court has drawn the line for gender–based decisions. (30 min.)

28. The Individual in Society—Brian Poon is a teacher at Brookline High School in metropolitan Boston, Massachusetts. Mr. Poon’s 12th–grade philosophy lesson focuses on the role of the individual in society. (30 min.)

29. Groups, Projects, and Presentations—This program examines how social studies teachers in any grade level can use groups, projects, and presentations to help students become actively involved in their learning. (30 min.)

30. Unity and Diversity—This program examines how social studies teachers in any grade level can embrace both unity and diversity in their classrooms. Topics range from exploring democratic values to building awareness of student diversity. (30 min.)

31. Dealing With Controversial Issues—This program examines how social studies teachers in any grade level can encourage open and informed discussions with their students while dealing with controversial issues. (30 min.)

32. Dealing With Controversial Issues—This program examines how social studies teachers in any grade level can encourage open and informed discussions with their students while dealing with controversial issues. (30 min.)

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