Teaching Elementary and Middle School Social Sciences – EDUC 322

CG • Section 8WK • 07/01/2018 to 12/31/2199 • Modified 09/05/2023

Course Description

An analysis of trends and practices of teaching social sciences in the elementary school and middle school. Emphasis will be made on how to transfer theory into practice through the development of instructional planning for the integrated study of history, geography, the social sciences, and other related areas appropriate for the elementary and middle classroom. A unit is developed to enhance differentiation of instruction for diverse learners.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


This course is designed to educate the candidate on pedagogical and content considerations for teaching elementary and middle school social sciences. The candidate must learn about the development of cognate skills in addition to retention of facts for areas of the social sciences, including history, geography, economics, etc. The candidate will learn about age-appropriate methods and specific strategies. The candidate will also learn about providing engaging, informative lessons that foster understanding of standards-based social sciences instruction. The candidate will also develop technological skills in providing various methods of social sciences instruction.

Course Assignment

Textbook Readings

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Candidate Expectations, the candidate will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (2)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the candidate will create a thread in response to the provided prompt. Each thread must demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the candidate will reply to the threads of at least two classmates. The thread must contain at least 200 words, and the replies must be at least 100 words each. For each thread, the candidate must support his/her assertions with at least one scholarly citation in current APA format. Any sources cited must have been published within the last five years. Acceptable sources include journal articles, books, and websites. Candidates must meet the rubric terms for the thread and the replies (CLOs: B, C, G)

Textbook Reflection Assignments (5)

Textbook Reflections provide candidates with opportunities to consider personal views and best practices in social studies.  After reading the required chapters, candidates will write reflections that are based on assigned prompts. These reflections will assist candidates in understanding the principles and knowledge necessary for elementary and middle social studies teachers, as reflected in the Virginia regulations. These reflections ensure candidates can synthesize and apply the key social studies concepts covered in the assigned reading chapters. Candidates will also address the biblical perspectives on social studies concepts. The candidates must complete the template for each reflection, incorporate current APA formatting requirements as noted in the rubric, and meet the rubric terms. (CLOs: C, G)

Inquiry Arc Project Assignment

The NCSS College, Career, and Civic Life Framework notes four dimensions of the Inquiry Arc. These are as follows. 1. Developing Questions and Planning Investigations, 2. Disciplinary Concepts and Tools, 3. Gathering, Evaluating, and Using Evidence, and 4. Working Collaboratively and Communicating Conclusions. These concepts are covered in the readings for the week. Inquiry practices, as outlined with these four dimensions, are important to give students experience with effective social studies research and questioning. With this assignment, candidates will use knowledge of these inquiry principles to develop a student inquiry activity for elementary or middle school students. Candidates will complete the Inquiry Arc Project Template and provide detailed descriptions of the activity components. Candidates will plan an inquiry activity that is based on effective questioning, inquiry practices, and social studies research. This assignment will provide the candidate with practice in planning an active, engaging inquiry activity for students. (CLOs: A, B, C, F, G)

Field Trip Project Assignment

Experiential learning through field trips can help students learn information in different and exciting ways. Field trips give teachers the ability to connect the information in a book to a real-life experience, and they take a lot of preparation and planning. A good field trip will balance cost, content, experience, and risk. The cost must be low enough so a vast majority, if not all, students can attend. The trip must connect to the content in the curriculum. The field trip should be a worthwhile experience for students. For both elementary and middle school students, the trip should connect to the age and stage of learners. It is important to think through the inherent risks involved in taking the field trip. For example, it is important to consider if there are places or experiences to avoid. All student health needs must be considered, including dietary needs.

For this assignment, candidates will have the opportunity to practice planning for field trips. Field trips are covered in the reading for the Module: Week. Candidates will complete the Field Trip Project Template and provide detailed descriptions of the activity components. Candidates will select an elementary or middle school standard and develop a field trip, a parent permission form, and a corresponding virtual field trip activity. In actual schools, teachers must use the official school forms and follow official school procedures for field trips. For just one example, schools have strict procedures for recruiting parental chaperones and volunteers. However, this assignment is designed to provide candidates with some initial practice in planning real-life and virtual field trips for social studies students. (CLOs: E, G)

Novel Activity Project Assignment

Literature integration with novels supports social studies engagement and learning. With literature integration, elementary and middle school students practice essential reading and comprehension skills. Students also gain additional perspectives and knowledge in social studies concepts through reading novels. This can be accomplished when teachers incorporate novels into social studies activities. The use of novels is covered in the reading for the Module: Week. As described in the reading, candidates should plan to integrate reading and text appropriately with social studies instruction so that students can learn more about social studies topics. Candidates will complete the Novel Activity Project Template chart for this assignment. With this assignment, candidates will select a social studies novel to plan an engaging learning activity for elementary or middle social studies students. The purpose of this assignment is to provide candidates with practice in integrating a specific novel into a social studies lesson activity. (CLOs: B, C, D, F, G)

Social Studies Lesson Plan Assignment

Effective lesson planning is important for teacher education candidates. With this assignment, candidates will gain practice in developing an engaging social studies lesson. The reading for this week provides lesson-related information, especially with principles of teaching history and geography. As noted in the readings for the week, effective lesson planning is essential to promote student social studies learning. Through effective lesson planning, candidates can develop organized instruction that facilitates student social studies understanding. With this assignment, candidates will complete a social studies lesson plan by considering sound strategies and utilizing the provided Social Studies Lesson Plan Template. Candidates will select a history or geography topic and standard, then demonstrate effective planning for social studies content and pedagogy. In addition to completing the required planning sections in the Social Studies Lesson Plan Template, candidates will complete a reflection that details how they will help students in understanding historical thinking concepts. This assignment is designed to provide the candidate with practice in developing a quality social studies lesson plan. (CLOs: A, B, C, D, E, F)

Financial Literacy Activity and Reflection Assignment

Financial literacy is essential for applying economic knowledge and making wise budgeting decisions. Financial literacy also enhances candidates’ ability to teach economic concepts to elementary and middle school students. Economics and financial literacy are covered in the reading for the week. With the assignment, candidates will use information from the Liberty University Center for Financial Literacy and the Ron Blue Institute to complete the Financial Literacy Activity and Reflection Template. Candidates will complete a Ron Blue spreadsheet and reflect on biblical principles for financial literacy, future teaching salaries, wise spending principles, and budget principles. This assignment is designed to facilitate financial literacy and economic knowledge for candidates. With this assignment, candidates will practice economic and financial literacy concepts to increase their personal knowledge and to prepare them for future teaching budgets. (CLOs: G, H)

Civic Education Activity Assignment

Civic education is important for student decision-making and and student understanding of societal knowledge. Therefore, candidates need to foster civic education for students to promote student content acquisition and student decision-making skills. Candidates will complete the Civic Education Activity Template for this assignment and use content information from the Virginia State and Local Civic Education module to design a civics activity for students. With this activity, candidates will plan to foster civic understanding for elementary and middle school students through active learning. Civic education principles are covered in the readings for the week. The activity will address effective civic education pedagogy and engagement practices, as noted in the readings. This assignment is designed to provide candidates with practice in planning an appropriate civic education activity for elementary or middle school students. (CLOs: A, B, F, G)

Integrated Unit Plan Assignment

In social studies, elementary and middle school students benefit from interdisciplinary or integrated approaches that integrate multiple subjects. Integrated approaches assist elementary and middle school students with making connections across subject areas. Integrated approaches also help students to understand how information is interconnected. Therefore, this planning approach is important for candidates to master for effective teaching. Integrated planning approaches are covered in the reading for the week. With this assignment, candidates will align the integrated study of social studies with additional subject areas through completing a unit plan. Candidates will use the Integrated Unit Plan Template to complete a unit plan that integrates social studies with two other subject areas. The Integrated Unit Plan Template will assist candidates in developing a cohesive unit plan that facilitates social studies knowledge under a curriculum learning topic. This assignment is designed to provide candidates with practice in developing a quality social studies integrated unit plan. (CLOs: A, B, D, E, F, G, H)