Reflecting on Your Practice
- What are some abstract concepts in your social studies curriculum? How do you plan for, introduce, and build on these concepts to help students understand them more clearly?
- What do you do to prepare young students for paired and group activities? How do you convey your expectations to them? What have been the most effective ways of providing your students with feedback on these activities?
- How do you keep students on track when they are working in groups? How do you make sure all group members participate?
- How do you make abstract concepts visual or more concrete for students?
- Why is it important for students to put the civic ideals they learn in the classroom into practice outside of school? What are some strategies you use to do this?
Taking It Back to Your Classroom
- After studying local, state, and national government, ask students to collect newspaper and magazine articles about various office holders and the work they do as engaged citizens.
- Use literature to help illustrate what it means to be a responsible citizen. For example, in Leo Lionni's book Frederick, a mouse family prepares for the winter, but Frederick doesn't help in the usual way. Ask your students to decide whether he is a good citizen and what the qualities of citizenship are.
- Have students use a coat hanger to construct a mobile of local, state, and national offices. Tell them to use one color construction paper for the office titles, another for the name of the officeholders, and another for the location of the offices.
- Have students build a model of a fictitious community and then set up a system of government to run it.
- Plan a field trip with your students to the neighborhood around your school. Have students take notes on the main streets and some of the buildings they see. Then have students use their notes to create a floor map in the classroom.
- Invite the mayor or another elected official to visit your class. In advance, have children write down questions they want to ask and give them time to practice their interviewing skills.
- Ask students to think about the qualities that make a good leader. Then have the class list those qualities (for example, patient, caring, fair, strong, and so on). Later, post a "Leadership Word of the Week" taken from students' own lists. Encourage students to point out examples of the leadership qualities and behaviors they see in other students during the week at school.
For related print materials and Web sites, see Resources.