Should Social Studies Have a National Core Curriculum?

After much discussion and debate the California Council for the Social Studies adopted a policy and is sending letters to prominent policymakers that call for the development and adoption of Common Core Standards in social studies.

The National Council for the Social Studies "hopes" that "this letter will be used as an example, and inspire you to take similar action."

Should Delaware's social studies educators be lobbying for national, Common Core Standards? Why or why not?


Share Teaching Ideas

The beginning of any school year is an great time for teachers to share their favorite teaching tips as there remains ample time to consider and implement. This blog respresents an attempt to build a collaborative social studies education environment in which Delaware social studies teachers contribute to an ever growing and easily accessed pool of effective ideas- big or small. Do NOT understimate the things you do and consider ideas relating to a range of matters such as instruction, assessment, motivation, parent involvement, classroom management etc. Examples include:

*Collaborate with students in the formulation of classroom rules. Expose students to a brief list of poorly written rules (see "No Vehicles in the Park" at ). Have students analyze the rules for defects with an eye toward improving them. Then ask, what are the quality of good rules and present them with a list of rules that you are proposing for the classroom (I always left some intentional as well as unintentional flaws ;). Have the students work in small groups to review, refine, and improve your drafts. Discuss and vote on the classroom rules. This process allows you to manage in a manner that suits your style while building a sense of democratic action and ownership within the classroom. You can always remind the students, "you wrote the rules."

*Make or send a few personalized phone calls or e-mails to parents/guardians every night at the very beginning of the year to establish a positive relationship. Don't wait until there is a problem! Some are very hesitant to do this but the payoff is significant. This is time VERY well spent.

*Maximize instructional time while improving management. Plan an "entry activity" or "bellringer" at the beginning of every day or class so students get to work the moment they enter the classroom. My entry activities were pretty consistent, unapologetically DSTP focused, and involved posting a prompt or task before class. I used to place a stack of index cards (cards resemble amount of response space on DSTP) on a table next to the door. As students entered they picked up an index card, took 2-3 minutes to respond while I took roll or conducted preliminary classroom business. Use the DSTP rubric formula (0-2 scale) to grade then share the rubric and have students grade each others' work (yes, it's legal).

DSSEP will post one new idea for every five posted by others. Please contribute to the improvement of the profession. Simply click on "comment" and post your idea.


Competing or Merging "Curriculum" Approaches

In recent years Delaware's public school districts embraced Understanding by Design (UbD) as a way of framing the written and enacted social studies curricula. A new approach - Learning Focused Strategies (LFS) - has been gaining traction. At this juncture, it is unclear as to how the two may merge or whether one approach will dominate. What are your thoughts?
  • Should there be a shift in, or merging of, approaches?

  • Is one approach better than another?

  • Is you district or school moving in a particular direction?

  • In which direction should the social studies community be moving?

Statewide Social Studies Conference

In recent years, the Delaware Council for the Social Studies hosted a statewide social studies conference on the "state inservice day" which would have occurred this coming fall on Friday, October 9th. Due to the reduction in professional development days, most districts report that they will be keeping their teachers in the districts on that day. Reluctantly, DCSS cancelled this year's conference. Professional development groups concerned about the diminishing status of social studies are considering a weekend conference on a date or dates yet to be determined.
  • Do you think that plans to hold a weekend mini-conference should move forward?

  • Would you attend a Friday evening/Saturday conference or a Saturday only conference?


Homework Debate

A recent article by Angie Wagner of the Associated Press resurrects an ongoing debate surrounding homework. Critics of homework argue that it is frequently mindless busy work and denies children family time as well as opportunities to explore, read for fun, and recreate. Schools, the article suggests, are paying attention. The NEA as well as the national PTA are now endorsing the "10 minute" rule credited to Harris Cooper of Duke University. The "rule" calls for no more than 10 minutes of homework per grade i.e., no more than 10 minutes in first more than 110 minutes in eleventh grade.

What recommendations do you have in terms of homework?

Songs for Social Studies Education

It's summertime and many of you are relaxing to your favorite songs. Classrooms could use a little music to engage students. Help others learn appropriate ways to incorporate music into their social studies instruction. What music do you use, or think could be used, to teach or springboard into topics that are relevant to the social studies? Share the title of the song and artist as well as how you recommend it be integrated.


Delaware Social Studies Testing

Under the Delaware State Testing Program (DSTP), testing occurred in grades 4, 6, 8 & 11. This will continue during the upcoming 2009-2010 school year.

The new Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) envisions social studies testing once in the elementary grades (K-5), once in the middle grades, and again in a high school end-of-course exam that will be phased in as the budget permits. The most recent proposal schedules social studies testing in grades 4 and 7. The new assessment system also envisions an adaptive model in which students move through different test trajectories depending on their responses with quick feedback.

  • What are your thoughts on the changes?


DE Social Studies Blog Content

Which topics would you like to see featured on the new Delaware Social Studies blog?