Elementary Social Studies

The BIG IDEAS behind this course are:

  1. Social studies should teach about what it means to be a human being.
  2. Social studies is about content, processes, and values.
  3. Social studies instruction should foster reflection and interaction.
  4. Social studies instruction should be responsive to the concerns of a diverse and interdependent world and relevant to the present day lives of students.
  5. Social studies should give students opportunities to contribute actively to the betterment of their school and the larger community.


Kids Taking Action: Community Service-Learning Projects K-8 by P. Roberts.
Social Studies for Social Justice: Teaching strategies for the elementary classroom by R. Wade.
You will also be loaned a copy (free of charge) of Looking at Ourselves and Others, a publication of the Peace Corp?s World Wise Schools.


In a democratic classroom, teacher and students strive to create a participatory learning community. Thus, your role in discussions, making decisions, and teaching in class will be very important to everyone’s learning. Democratic education also involves connecting with the larger community through meaningful, hands-on involvement. The focus of a democratic classroom is on responsible participation from all the members of the classroom community. I welcome your questions and feedback on any aspect of this course via e-mail, phone, stopping by our offices during office hours, or setting up an appointment to meet.


Students who are interested in learning the subject matter of this course and complete high quality assignments in a timely manner generally receive the highest grades. I take seriously the responsibility for designing meaningful assignments, explaining the criteria for grading as clearly as possible, and evaluating student work fairly, based on high standards. In an effort to communicate fairly with you about the grading process, the information here will help you to set goals and to assess your progress in the course. Please feel free to check in with me at any time to inquire about assignment information and/or the status of your grade in the course. Grades for the course are assigned according to the following scale: 94-100 A, 90-93 A-, 87-89 B+, 84-86 B, 80-83 B- and so forth. (I do not round up; a 93.75 is an A-).


You should consult the course website (www.uiowa.edu/~c07e161a/) for details on the following course assignments, samples of the CSL pages, the complete syllabus, and other information on the course.

Unit Introduction Page ? 10% (10 points) ? Due February 13 or 18
Unit ? 25% (25 points) ? Due April 23 or 28
CSL Portfolio Pages ? 15% (15 points) ? Due May 12
Team Teaching ? 20% (20 points) ? Due date varies
Activities Card File ? 5% (5 points) ? Due March 26 or 31
Exam ? 15% (15 points) ? April 16 or 21
Professionalism and reflection exercises ? 10% (10 points)

The professionalism aspect of the course covers being in class on time, completing the required reading for class each week, turning in assignments on time, and responsible participation in both in-class activities and the CSL project.

Each of the two reflection exercises should be typed, proofread, and thoughtful. Students meeting all of the criteria satisfactorily will receive all 10 points. Students will lose points for the following:

missing a class without a legitimate excuse (generally just for sickness or family emergency, not family vacations, work, or other class experiences) ?2 pts (for each class missed)
missing more than two classes for any reason ?2 pts (for each class missed)
coming late to a class without a legitimate excuse ?1 pt (for each time late to class)
irresponsibility in the CSL project ?2 to ?8 pts
irresponsibility on the team teaching project ?2 to ?4 pts
turning in an assignment late ?1 pt (for each late assignment)
inadequate reflection exercise -1 pt

Respect for Diversity

The diversity that students bring to this class is a wonderful resource, strength and benefit. It is our intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of all types of diversity: gender, sexual orientation, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, culture, perspective, and other background characteristics. Your suggestions about how to improve the value of diversity in this course are encouraged and appreciated. Please let us know ways to improve the effectiveness of the course for you or for other students or student groups.

In addition, in scheduling the exam, we have attempted to avoid conflicts with major religious holidays. If, however, we have inadvertently scheduled the exam or major deadline that creates a conflict with your religious observances, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can make other arrangements.


The CSL Project has been designed to provide you with the following benefits:

  • learning about the value of community service-learning projects in the social studies curriculum through direct experience
  • learning about two of the primary goals of social studies (learning about what it means to be human and developing skills in active citizenship) through direct experience
  • developing skills in critical and creative thinking, lesson planning, collaboration, and working with children
  • learning about the role of a community agency that serves children or families

Why are we doing the CSL project?

The CSL project is one of the centerpieces of the course. It is an excellent opportunity for experiential learning and for the development of many skills that are important in being an exemplary teacher. These include: creative thinking, problem solving, empathy, responsibility, planning skills, and time management. The CSL project is included in the social studies methods course for all of the following reasons:

  1. The goal of social studies is active citizenship. To date, the traditional social studies curriculum (history and geography facts) has failed in fostering active citizenship. A more promising approach is active involvement in the school and community.
  2. Most people learn more through experience. Most teachers after being in the field for 10 years believe they learned very little from their traditional social studies methods course. Experiential learning with children offers you as the learner a chance to have a meaningful and relevant learning experience that you will be able to draw on in your future teaching.
  3. The community service-learning experience also offers the opportunity to develop many of the professional skills teachers need: time management, organization, planning, and problem solving.
  4. You will be more effective at integrating CSL in your future classroom if you have experienced it yourself.
  5. Through the CSL project, you will become aware of community resources and the importance of networking with others to enhance students’ academic, social, and personal development. Community connections are becoming increasingly important as teachers attempt to respond to the varying needs of their students.

In summary, the CSL project supports the goal of social studies instruction?active citizenship?and provides you with an opportunity to develop a variety of skills that will be useful in your future teaching.

CSL Project Options


Day: any school day (M-F)
Time: varies, but typically between 9 am and 3 pm (or 2 pm on Thursdays). For many schools, lunch time is ideal.
Agency: Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Johnson County and schools in Iowa City, North Liberty and Oxford

COMMITMENT. You cannot do School Buddies if you are student teaching in the spring. Must be able to pass a police record check and background check. Must have own transportation to school site.Project Description: School Buddies is a school-based mentoring program. Mentors are matched one-to-one with elementary school students in the Iowa City Community School District and neighboring school districts. You meet with your child “buddy” once a week during the school day at a designated location within the school. Activities may be academic (reading, homework, etc.) or social (playing games, eating lunch, etc.). The goal of the School Buddies program is to provide a friend to a child who may need a little extra help and guidance from a mentor. You must go through a screening process and attend a training and orientation session.

Day: Thursday evenings
Time: 6:30-8:15 PM (in West Liberty)
Agency: West Liberty Family Literacy Program
Special Requirements: You can carpool with the tutors or others from this class if you don’t have a car. This is a wonderful opportunity for reading and language arts specialization students. It would be helpful if you have already taken reading and language arts methods. If you choose this option, you should be interested in gaining experience working with diverse elementary students.

Project Description: Carolyn Colvin, Associate Professor in Curriculum and Instruction, oversees a literacy tutoring program for Latino/Asian adults and their children in West Liberty. While the parents are receiving literacy instruction from tutors, their children are also engaged in literacy activities. You will work directly with the supervisor of the children’s program and will be assigned to work with students each week. You will be responsible for planning other activities which might include games, songs, and art projects, as well as reading and writing experiences. If you have an interest in working with individuals who speak English as a second language or with a family literacy program, this project will provide you with these opportunities You should plan to attend each Thursday evening through the last week of classes (except Spring break week).

Day: Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday
Time: 3:15 to 5:30 pm
Agency: Hills Family Resource Center at Hills Elementary School
Special Requirements: You will need to have a car or arrange carpooling with others who are doing their CSL placement there.
Project Description: The Hills Family Resource Center exists to provide programming for Hills Elementary students and their families. You will be working with one or more students to help them complete their homework or practice their reading skills. Students working in their programs must commit to the entire duration of the program (it goes through the last week of classes, not including the week of Spring break). There is also a need for one or two volunteers for Thursday evenings from 5 pm to 7 pm to provide recreational and literacy activities at the family nights.

Day: Tuesdays
Times: 4:30 – 5:45 pm and 6:00 – 7:15 pm
Agency: North Liberty Family Resource Center at Penn Elementary School in North Liberty
Special requirements: You will need to have a car or arrange carpooling with others who are doing their CSL placement there.
Project Description: The North Liberty Family Resource Center provides support and programs for Penn children and their families. The Tuesday tutoring program will match you one to one (or one to two students) with 3rd through 6th graders. The tutoring sessions run on Tuesdays from February 26 through April 29 excluding March 18. Because there are just 9 sessions for each time slot, you will need to tutor during both time slots. You need to commit to tutoring through April 29, even though you will have completed your 15 hours before that.


The Washington Community School District?s A.C.C.T. after school program in Washington, Iowa is recruiting University of Iowa education students who are excited to work with kids and who are willing to devote one afternoon each week to our after school program. This program will begin in September, and will provide kids in grades 4-6 with opportunities to learn about what interests you! In the past, interns have focused on teaching fencing, acting, foreign languages, sports, forestry, and much more! We are looking for student interns who will instruct Washington students in these and many other areas of their own choosing. If you want to participate in a dynamic environment where your ideas and abilities will be used with hands-on activities, we are looking for you! We will provide training and support. You need to plan lessons and manage a a class of 5-15 students. If you are interested, contact Kelly Swift at kswift {at} washington.k12.ia(.)us"">kswift {at} washington.k12.ia(.)us

Note: To do this experience for CSL in social studies methods, the students you work with must do a service activity as part of your class.

Washington Iowa is located 25 minutes from Iowa City.


You may prefer to arrange your own CSL project. This is fine provided it fits the requirements listed below.

  1. involves at least 15 contact hours with elementary age children who are in need (special education, ESL students, from single parent families or low income students) OR you are coordinating children being involved in service-learning
  2. project is coordinated through a community agency or organization (or a school district other than the Iowa City or Cedar Rapids school districts)
  3. project is not associated with a paid job you have and does not take place in a classroom during the school day.
    Sometimes students who live outside of the Iowa City/Coralville area prefer to arrange a CSL project through an agency in their own community. This is fine.

An alternative project in the Iowa City/Coralville area in the past that satisfies these requirements is working with children at: Pheasant Ridge or Broadway Street Neighborhood Centers – working with children in poverty and/or children from different cultures in recreational or academic activities, afterschool and evening hours, for Pheasant Ridge contact Pat Meyer, 354-2886, pat-meyer {at} ncjc(.)org"">pat-meyer {at} ncjc(.)org, for Broadway Street contact Josh Gurian at 354-7989

Good places to inquire about local alternative possibilities: Volunteer Action Center of United Way or the Iowa City Public Library

If you wish to do an alternative CSL project, please discuss with your instructor before you have confirmed with the agency. Once you have contacted the agency and received the OK, you should write down the name of a contact person at the agency, the email address of this person (or phone number if an email is not available), and a brief description of what you will be doing for the CSL project and give this information to your instructor. This information is due to your instructor byFebruary 27 or March 3.

CSL PORTFOLIO PAGES ? Due on Monday, May 12 by 5 pm

The benefits to you of the CSLPortfolio Pages are:

  • an opportunity to reflect on your CSL experience
  • a “keepsake” to look back on your experience
  • a resource you can use in your professional teaching portfolio for job interviews

This assignment consists of the following pages:

  1. The first page should introduce the reader to the agency you worked with. Use photos, parts of agency brochures, graphics, or other visual elements to draw the reader’s attention to this page. Include the full title of the agency and program, not just acronyms. Also include some text and/or captions to inform the reader about the agency and the program in which you participated.
  2. The second page should focus on your role during the CSL experience. Again, with both visuals and text, the reader should learn about what you did there (include photos with captions or “artifacts” of your work with children or other visual and written descriptions of what you did during your CSL experience).Someone unfamiliar with your CSL project should be able to understand both the agency/program and what you did there from looking at these two pages. (Be sure to see the sample pages for this assignment on the Portfolio Pictures section of the course web site).
  3. a one to two page single spaced essay addressing the following questions about
    your CSL experience:What did you learn about yourself as a teacher? What “teacher skills” did you need to use in this project? What knowledge or abilities did you develop as a result of working on this project? What skills or abilities do you now recognize that you need to develop?

    How did your experiences in this project change your views of children or families? What will you do as a teacher to accommodate children with differing needs in your classroom?

    How might what you learned about service, social issues or community agencies impact your future teaching of elementary social studies? How can you apply what you learned about community service-learning to your future teaching of elementary social studies?

    Grading on the Portfolio will take into account the following criteria:

    1. neat and proofread
    2. well crafted and informative introductory CSL pages and
    3. evidence of strong reflective ability in what you learned from the CSL project


Introduction Page due February 13 or 18
Complete Unit Assignment due April 23 or 28

The purpose of this assignment is to develop an enriched unit of study based on a social justice oriented social studies topic. To complete this assignment, follow these steps.

  1. You will choose a topic within the broad category of HUMAN RIGHTS based on your interests and in-class information. On the introduction page, include all of the following: Unit title or topic, grade level, and your name. Write a paragraph that introduces the topic. What are the big ideas or concepts important in this unit? Why should elementary students learn these concepts and ideas? How will this unit help students in their daily lives and as future democratic citizens? Finally, list at least 5 broad generalizations that students will learn as they complete the lessons in the unit you have designed. These generalizations should be useful to children in their daily lives as well as in their future as democratic citizens. Phrase these generalizations as you would like students to be able to express if you asked them, “What are the important ideas you learned from this unit?” The generalizations should be substantive in terms of student learning but broad enough to be applied (generalized) to a variety of situations in students’ lives, both now and in the future.
  2. Develop a list of at least 10 resources on your topic (web sites, children’s books, journal articles, non-fiction books, etc.) for this unit. (These should not include social studies methods course textbooks or articles). Use an appropriate reference format (e.g. APA, Chicago, MLA) and include complete reference information on each resource. For each resource, provide an informative, two sentence description.
  3. Use the social studies methods course texts, readings and handouts given in class, your course notes, the powerpoints from class, and the course web site information to develop a plan for how to enrich the teaching of the textbook content/topic you have chosen.
  4. Next, type 4 to 5 pages that include 6 to 8 teaching ideas for this unit. For each idea, write one paragraph that includes the following: Title , one Objective, the number(s) of the generalization(s) supported by this lesson, Materials, Description of the activity, and Rationale. A teaching idea might be just one lesson or might include several activities to be completed over a number of days.
    • Submit this assignment with the following components in this order:
    • title page with your name and class day (Monday or Wednesday).
    • introduction page (include original initial assignment and if you revise it, the revision as well)
    • annotated resource list
    • teaching ideas
  5. Somewhere among your 6-8 teaching ideas, you must include evidence of the following:
    • community service-learning activity
    • integration of reading and language arts
    • multicultural/global emphasis
  6. Criteria for excellent assignments include:
    written well and proofread, all required information included, resource list includes two sentence descriptions for each resource, all resources are in an acceptable reference format, thoughtful introduction and important, appropriate generalizations, teaching ideas are connected to the elementary textbook content, teaching ideas are well supported by course materials, objectives are written well, lessons include community service-learning, integration of reading and language arts, and multicultural/global emphasis.


  1. Write your objectives carefully. Make sure they include what the student is to learn, how the student will demonstrate the learning, and criteria for success (look at the lesson plan links on this website).
  2. The rationale sections are an important part of this assignment. Be sure to cite course texts as well as course handouts, notes from in-class activities, Powerpoint lectures, etc. Do not use the same citations over and over again. Please do NOT cite the resources you found and included in the annotated resource list; please DO cite a variety of materials and books from the social studies methods course.
  3. Carefully think through the activities. Provide detailed descriptions of them and sequence them in the order you would teach them. Your first teaching idea should be an attention-getter, an overview, a lesson to find out what students know about the topic, and/or another way to effectively introduce the unit. Your last teaching idea should assist students in synthesizing their learning and/or applying what they learned in the unit to their lives or their community.

School: University of Iowa
Professor: Rahima Wade
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