Interdisciplinary Studies: Social Studies

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Interdisciplinary Studies - Social Studies



  • The Importance of Studying History by Michael Postma
  • I Hated High School History: Confessions of a Middle School History Teacher by Margaret Gosfield
  • Gaining Wisdom by Giving Back: Helping Gifted Young People Help Others by Erik Schwinger & Jim Delisle
  • What Do the Common Core State Standards Mean for History Teaching and Learning?: Educating Students in the Discourse of History by Katherine Suyeyasu
  • Social Studies and the Common Core by Sandra N. Kaplan
  • The Politics of Teaching Politics by Sandra N. Kaplan & Jessica Manzone
  • Student Teaching: A Catalyst to Activate the Teaching and Learning of Social Studies by Sandra N. Kaplan & Jessica Manzone


  • Parent talk: Making Connections In and Outside of School by James Webb & Janet Gore
  • Administrator talk: Interdisciplinary Studies: Social Studies from Chalkboard to High Tech by Carolyn R. Cooper
  • Counseling Corner: What is this Gifted Thing Anyway? by Dan Peters
  • Common Core for Gifted Learners: Literacy Development in the Common Core Standards by Beth Littrell
  • Technology Ideas for Home and School: Blogging for Kids by Barbara L. Branch


  • Gifted Program Evaluation: A Handbook for Administrators & Coordinators reviewed By Christine Hoehner


We open our features section with a passionate commentary on “The Importance of Studying History” by Michael Postma. He shares his beliefs that the study of history is vital for humans in creating the future, transmission of cultural literacy, intellectual recognition of patterns, and sharing empathic brotherhood with all peoples. He gives us much to think about.

I have already admitted my love of history but now must confess that in high school I hated it! During my tenure as editor of this journal (beginning in 1999), I have never written a feature article for it and have some reservations about doing so now. But as I look back through my career as an educator, I know that my best days were always in the classroom in direct engagement with my students. It’s not that managing a district program for gifted students, co-authoring the California standards for gifted learners, editing this journal, and putting thousands of readers in touch with timely and important ideas in the field are not important. It’s simply that those classroom days were the ones that gave me the greatest personal fulfillment. And it’s why I want today’s teachers to engage their students in the study of history and social studies in ways that they will enjoy—both teachers and students— in order to become the standard bearers of our civilization throughout the new millennium. (A lofty goal I know!) I have shared some strategies I found successful in teaching history in “Confessions of a Middle School History Teacher.”

One of the most effective ways of engaging students in “doing history and social studies” is through service learning. Erik Schwinger and Jim Delisle provide powerful examples of service learning in their work with the Davidson Young Scholars Ambassador Program. In their article, “Gaining Wisdom by Giving Back: Helping Gifted Young People Help Others” they share some of the objectives of the Davidson Institute founded by Bob and Jan Davidson in 1999. The Ambassador program is just one of many components of the Institute, but one that has an enormous “pay off” in terms of gifted young people making a difference in the world. Schwinger and Delisle describe the projects of three gifted young ambassadors and their results. The article is meant not merely to awe readers as to what individual young people can do, but to encourage other teachers to engage their students in meaningful service-learning projects themselves.

Returning to the California Common Core Curriculum, we next present an upbeat and encouraging short piece by a current Oakland California history teacher. Katherine Suyeyasu asks, “What Do the Common Core State Standards Mean for History Teaching and Learning?” She too was not particularly interested in the study of history while in high school, and states, too many of my teachers treated history as a body of facts and students as bodies to fill with those facts. What I have since learned is that while history may begin with facts.

Sandra Kaplan, in her article, “Social Studies and the Common Core” provides us with a pedagogical perspective for the promise of the Common Core Curriculum as a meaningful path for gifted students to learn in appropriate environments and to have the opportunities they need for study in our schools. She warns, however, that the standards… “…do not include all that might be included or do not include the types of advanced curriculum aligned to students who surpass the standards before high school graduation.”

Kaplan goes on to give specific examples of how to build on the tenants of the Common Core for gifted students. Given this presidential election year, “The Politics of Teaching Politics” by Sandra Kaplan and Jessica Manzone is both timely and an opportunity to put into practice the importance of student engagement in the study of history and social studies. They comment, “Too often, young students are led to believe that politics is “just for adults.” They are taught to examine what others have done politically rather than what they themselves might do in similar situations.” The authors include charts and three lessons plans to illustrate their points and to provide examples for teachers.

Finally, in a short piece titled “Student Teaching: A Catalyst to Activate the Teaching and Learning of Social Studies,” Sandra Kaplan and Jessica Manzone present the reflections of three recent graduates of the Master of Arts in Teaching online program at the University of Southern California.