Friday, October 23, 2015

Using Multiple Sources to Examine Important Changes in Metropolitan Communities

In modern social studies learning, we use topics to expose students to broader concepts. In the past, the topic was most, helping students to see how a topic connects to a concept is critical. When students are able to make this conceptual connection, they're able to see the bigger picture.

In my school district, 3rd graders are engaged in a unit where they explore change over time in the Denver Metro area. Conceptually, we are hopeful that students begin to understand that all places change over time for a variety of reasons. The unit has a goal that states students will understand that people, events, and developments influence change to metropolitan regions (and its communities) over time. To help students uncover this understanding, best practice instruction encourages teachers to embrace inquiry and possibly provide some essential questions to discuss within our learning. Essential questions might include:

  • How has Metropolitan Denver changed over time? How has Metropolitan Denver stayed the same over time? Why does a city stay the same AND change over time?
  • What are "important" changes that we might want to see within Metropolitan Denver? What is an "important" change within a community?
  • How do members of government, leaders, and citizens support the development of Metropolitan Denver (and communities within this region)?

As social scientists, we want students to engage with resources that allow them to construct learning. One way to explore this learning is to gather resources related to one type of change that has taken place. As students engage with various sources, we want them to apply critical thinking skills. Learning targets might include skill statements such as:

  • Students will be able to identify the big ideas and supporting details communicated within a source (teachers from the old days call this "taking notes").
  • Students will be able to ask questions when reading sources (including charts, maps, graphs, and infographics).
  • Students will be able to identify how people influence or help with "important" changes.
  • Students will be able to use evidence from sources to explain if a change is "important."
  • Students will be able to use chronology and compare the past to the present when describing how a Metropolitan area changes over time.

Knowing these goals, we might select a set of sources based on any example of important change. Here are some "important" changes that have taken place in the Denver Metro Area and sources that can be used to help students construct their understanding of the change.

Once students have examined a type of change, they might...

  • identify additional changes that would benefit a metropolitan region
  • identify other examples of change within a metropolitan region
  • describe how they (as citizens) can influence change within a metropolitan region

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