Interdisciplinary Studies Social Studies



fall 2006 Interdisciplinary studies social studies


Our fall issue traditionally focuses on serving gifted learners in a specific subject matter area. Our premise is that educators still have most of the school year to explore and implement ideas and programs included in the issue. This year it seems particularly appropriate that we focus on social studies, because to our dismay, we find less and less time being allotted to social studies in our schools—especially at the elementary level.As Sandra Kaplan puts it in our lead feature article, “Advocating for the Teaching of Social Studies,”  [Social studies is] becoming the forgotten, superfluous,  or frill subject…. Kaplan focuses on three means of advocating for social studies: demonstrating the relevance of social studies; finding time to teach social studies; and testing in social studies. Carolyn Cooper sounds a similar warning as she initiates a new department for the journal: Administrator Talk. In this first column for principals, coordinators, and superintendents, Cooper suggests ways that we can get “More For Our Money: Differentiating Social Studies Instruction with Stunning Results.” Cooper maintains that with its emphasis on authentic problem solving, social studies help students of all ages to construct meaningful contexts for their learning, with the result that they retain new learning by using it. Social studies thereby become important for the entire curriculum. A third warning comes from Marshall Croddy, who asks, “Have We Forgotten Civic Education?” Croddy is director of programs at the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF), and maintains that, “Two centuries after Jefferson, social studies are lacking at public schools.” The CRF is a non-profit organization that sponsors programs, publications, and online lessons to assist in providing civic education for our students. See page 15 to learn more about CRF. However, it would be folly merely to lament the loss of time given to social studies. Again referring to the Kaplan article, “It is more important to find a way to teach social studies than to ignore it.” Therefore we offer four articles that provide educators with a variety of means to enrich and implement social studies instruction. U.S. history teacher James McAleney teams with a language arts teacher in an interdisciplinary project that he describes in his article, “Think Like An Historian: Sleuthing Family History.” In this project, students learn history, geography, listening skills, interviewing, and writing skills, with the two teachers sharing theinstruction and evaluating responsibilities.Sharon Leon at George Mason University shares a new website in her article, “Historical Thinking Matters: Revolutionizing the Teaching and Learning of History with Online Sources.” The goal of Leon and her colleagues is to guide students in analyzing and evaluating historical documents through a series of “student investigations.” Lesson plans assist even novice teachers of social studies to provide quality instruction in several standard topics of

historical study.Kimberly Dodds, elementary teacher in Newport Mesa, CA demonstrates how she incorporates social studies into the curriculum in her article, “Social Studies in the Primary Grades: Using Learning Centers as a Vehicle.” She includes specific center tasks and correlates them to state content standards at several grade levels. Finally, Kimberly Chandler, Curriculum Director at the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary, provides rubrics to use at both primary and upper levels to train students to examine primary source documents with a critical eye. She shows us how in her article, “Using Primary Sources in

Social Studies with Gifted Learners.”We also have a full slate of department articles in this issue. As stated above, Carolyn Cooper joins us with a new column entitled Administrator Talk. We believe this to be an important addition to our continuing departments of Teacher Talk and Parent Talk. It helps us meet our goal of providing practical information for teachers, parents, and administrators. Cooper is a recently retired administrator who served at a variety of levels including district gifted coordinator and head of the gifted program for the Maryland Department of Education. Please note that we have a guest student author writing for the Hands-on Curriculum department. Evan Morikawa, who just graduated from High Tech High School in San Diego, shares the process he and his classmates used to develop and publish a field guide to the San Diego bay. His article is entitled, “Student-centered Environment: Interdisciplinary Perspectives Through Field

Studies and Publishing.”Another change in this issue concerns Internet addresses. We have adopted the newer practice of omitting the www or http:// as prefixes to most individual Internet addresses. Almost all Web addresses can now be accessed without this prefix, and it makes formatting much simpler for us.

Finally, we wish to thank our designers at Barbara Brown Marketing & Design, for creating the new look of our cover. We appreciate their professional and creative work. As year-round schools are well into the new school year, and traditional schools have recently begun their fall term, we wish all our readers a successful, productive, and satisfying year. Our winter issue is due out on January 1, 2007 and will focus on serving middle school gifted learners.
—Margaret Gosfield, Editor