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Social Studies in the
Middle
Teaching Assistant:
Jeni Venker Weidenbenner, MLIS, MAT,
PhD Student
What does Social Studies include?
Psychology
Sociology
Anthropology
Religion
Economics
The Social
Studies
History
Geography
Political
Science/
Law
Philosophy
Archaeology
Social Studies is . . .
“Social Studies is the integrated study of the social
sciences and humanities to promote civic competence.
Within the school program, social studies provides
coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such
disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics,
geography, history, law, philosophy, religion, and
sociology, as well as appropriate content from the
humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences. The
primary purpose of social studies is to help young people
develop the ability to make informed and reasoned
decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally
diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.”
(Expectations for Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies, NCSS, 1994)
Why is Social Studies
in the middle?
Mathematics
The Arts
The Social
Studies
Language Arts
Natural Sciences
Pair & Share
Imagine that your middle school
team is planning an integrated
unit on sports and society . . .
Think of a few guiding questions
that you could use to focus the
unit. Which core content areas
do they encompass?
Examples of Content Intersections
Social Studies + Math =
Which countries in the
world have the highest
percentages of middle
school boys and girls
playing team sports?
The Arts
Social Studies + The Arts =
How has the role of dance in
society changed in the past
100 years?
Mathematics
The Social
Studies
Language Arts
Social Studies + Science =
How have specific physical and
environmental adaptations over
the course of history affected
humans’ capabilities to engage
in different types of sports?
Natural Sciences
Social Studies + Language =
Is it legal and/or fair to place
gender restrictions on who
can participate in intramural or
interscholastic sports?
What are the themes
of Social Studies?
• Culture
• Time, Continuity, and
Change
• People, Places, and
Environment
• Individual
Development and
Identity
• Individuals, Groups,
and Institutions
• Power, Authority, and
Governance
• Production,
Distribution, and
Consumption
• Science, Technology,
and Society
• Global Connections
• Civic Ideals and
Practices
Adapted from: Expectations of Excellence: Curriculum Standards for Social Studies,
National Council for the Social Studies, 1994.
What are the essential concepts of
Social Studies education?
• Causality
• Conflict
• Cooperation
• Cultural change
• Differences
• Interdependence
• Modification
• Power
• Societal control
• Tradition
• Values
Adapted from:Szymanski Sunal, C. and Haas, M.E. (2005). Social Studies for the
Elementary and Middle Grades: A Constructivist Approach, 2nd ed. Boston: Pearson.
What attitudes and behaviors
promote Social Studies learning?
• Curiosity to Experience, Explore, and Investigate
• Respect for Evidence
– Asking for evidence (i.e. How do you know that’s true?)
– Perseverance in gathering evidence
– Consideration of conflicting evidence
• Reserving Judgment
• Flexibility in Drawing Conclusions (i.e. As far as we can
tell . . .)
• Sensitivity and Responsibility for Others and the
Environment
• Values, Morals, and Aesthetics