Effective social studies teachers ensure that all students have the opportunity to develop essential social studies skills and know that skills and content should be learned together.
They provide students with opportunities to think and communicate in ways that will enable them to develop a working knowledge of social studies content.
Developing essential social studies skills can occur at every grade level. Some essential skills include but are not limited to:
Critical Reading Skills
Because the reading of textbooks and nonfiction plays such a prominent role in the content fields, critical reading should be a central skill where the students learn to evaluate, draw inferences and arrive at conclusions based on the evidence. The student is expected to:
- analyze the author's choices of content and text structure.
- Critical readers can distinguish between statements of fact and opinion.
- Critical readers are aware of the text structure of a text in terms of the movement of ideas from beginning to end. They use headings, captions and visual cues from the text to help construct meaning.
- use and develop skills and strategies including, but not limited to, the following:
- Scan material before reading.
- Use text features (such as titles, bold print, italics, pictures, and graphs) to predict what the reading will be about.
- Predict what will happen next.
- Recall background knowledge.
- Summarize main ideas.
- Make text-to-text, text-to-self, and text-to-world connections.
- Stop periodically to retell or summarize what has been read.
- Make charts, webs, outlines, and record reactions.
Critical Communication Skills
Communication skills require the student to communicate in written, oral, and visual forms. The student is expected to:
- use social studies terminology correctly;
- use standard grammar, sentence structure, and punctuation;
- use writing to explain or describe social studies information and topics;
- transfer information from one medium to another, including written to visual;
- create and present written, oral and visual presentations of social studies information.
Critical Thinking Skills
The student applies critical thinking skills to organize and use information acquired from a variety of sources, including electronic technology. The student is expected to:
- use primary and secondary sources such as computer software, biographies, interviews, and artifacts, to acquire information;
- analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions;
- organize and interpret information from graphs, charts, timelines, and maps;
- use developmentally appropriate mathematical skills to interpret social studies information such as maps and graphs;
- use a problem-solving process to identify a problem, gather information, list and consider options, consider advantages and disadvantages;
- use a decision-making process to identify a situation that requires a decision, gather information, identify options, predict consequences, and take action to implement a decision, and
- trace the important historical, political, cultural and economic developments of selected regions.