This morning I had the privilege of joining in on a Social Studies Techbook webinar led by Kevin Jenkins and Dan Byerly. I’ve seen several SS TB overviews over the past few months and have even given it a go myself, but this morning’s discussion has me so excited, I just couldn’t resist sharing.
(If you are reading this and you are a middle school social studies teacher, stop what you are doing and sign up for the free trial! Register by clicking HERE- I promise you will fall in love just as I have.)
As a former middle school social studies teacher, I’m very passionate about engaging students in our rich history and helping them understand the importance of being an informed and active citizen. For many students, social studies was (or sadly still is) a class where teachers disseminate information via lecture and students passively consume the information to regurgitate on a test.
In a world where access to information is readily available, this old model of teaching social studies is no longer relevant. What I love about the DE SS TB is that it was designed from the ground-up to support a new model of teaching social studies. One where teachers facilitate student investigation and discovery, and students take ownership of their learning as they become active and engaged creators of authentic products. This inquiry approach to teaching social studies helps to create meaning for students as they seek out information, draw conclusions and propose solutions. Students are given the same access to information and resources as historians and geographers, allowing them to learn how to think and write within the social studies discipline.
The content embedded within the SS TB is designed around essential questions and provided in multiple formats (secondary test, video, visuals, primary sources, interactive maps- just to name a few). The activities built within the 5E model of instruction feature scaffolding to support students at various levels. Aligned with the requirements of Common Core, this allows students to engage in the work of a historian or a geographer. There are also activities built within the SS TB that help prepare students to be active members of a democratic society. For example- In the World Geography course there is an interactive investigation global challenge called “Future of Energy in India”. This activity allows students to understand the problem, analyze alternatives and propose a solution to India’s energy problem. Talk about creating authentic work products!
As a former social studies teacher there were challenges I faced that the SS TB resources addresses. First and foremost, finding varied sources of information to engage students in hunting for evidence. What used to take me hours of prep work is now done for me as the SS TB resources are all in one place. Another challenge was creating tasks for students that helped them learn how to think and write like a historian. The activities built within the “Explain” and “Elaborate” tabs of the SS TB are incredible. Not only are the activities designed to help students analyze information, share and defend their perspective by citing evidence, they are also designed to help students make connections to current events and their own life. What they are learning now means something to them. What a powerful way to explore our past.
What impresses me the most, however, is the team of passionate educators that have worked around the clock to develop this amazing resource. From our internal SS TB team to the teachers and students who have given constant feedback, the DE Social Studies Techbook is a resource that will have a dramatic impact on student engagement. Students won’t feel like they HAVE TO learn social studies. They will WANT TO learn social studies. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible. This former social studies teacher is smiling from ear to ear, and can’t wait to see what’s next.