Involving Preservice Teachers in Social Studies Content Standards: Thoughts of a Methods Professor

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Fondren Library, Rice University ]On: 13 November 2014, At: 05:22Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House,37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>The Social StudiesPublication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:</p><p>Involving Preservice Teachers in Social Studies ContentStandards: Thoughts of a Methods ProfessorJanice Mcarthur aa Brigham Young University-Hawaii Elementary Education Department LaiePublished online: 07 Aug 2010.</p><p>To cite this article: Janice Mcarthur (2004) Involving Preservice Teachers in Social Studies Content Standards: Thoughts of aMethods Professor, The Social Studies, 95:2, 79-82, DOI: 10.3200/TSSS.95.2.79-82</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the Content) containedin the publications on our platform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of theContent. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon andshould be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable forany losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use ofthe Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematicreproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in anyform to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found at</p><p></p></li><li><p>THE SOCIAL STUDIES MARCH/APRIL 2004 79</p><p>tandards this! Standards that!What are standards? Why do we</p><p>need them? Those are some of the com-ments I frequently hear from preserviceteachers as they confront the concept ofstandards in their teacher-educationcourses. Indeed, why incorporate stan-dards in teacher education? Federalmandates now in place leave littledoubt that teachers need to be wellacquainted with standards and how touse them to guide their teaching; forteacher educators, the choice is notwhether to include standards, but how.In this article, I describe how I amusing the standards developed in 1994by the National Council for the SocialStudies (NCSS) as a framework for thesocial studies methods course that Iteach. </p><p>Federal Mandate for Education</p><p>The emphasis of the 2002 major fed-eral legislation affecting education, theNo Child Left Behind Act of 2001(NCLB), on stronger accountability for</p><p>achieving results in student learning andfor the use of research-based teachingmethods has a well-documented recordof success. Political leaders who spear-headed the legislation apparently sup-port the widely held belief that mandat-ing that specific content be taughtmakes for the balanced education ofAmerican students. They also embracedincreased teacher accountability withthe intent of advancing student learning.The act directly addresses the need forstandards in all content areas.</p><p>Professional associations in contentareas addressed the needs for standardswell ahead of the NCLB legislation. Inan effort to give teachers across thenation a common thread for social stud-ies content, NCSS published its themesin 1994. Although standards may bederived from a variety of sources, it islogical and wise to use the best collec-tive thinking in a given content area as aguide. Hence, most states, includingHawaii, have opted to use the NCSSsocial studies themes as a basis for statestandards. </p><p>As the instructor of the social studiesmethod course in the teacher educationprogram at Brigham Young UniversityHawaii, I began using the national stan-dards in my course after I was intro-duced to them at NCSS national meet-</p><p>ings in the mid-1990s. The facultymembers and the administrators in theBYU School of Education had alreadymade a commitment to align theteacher-preparation program with thestandards promulgated by the variousprofessional associations. ReflectingIsaksons (2001) observation, Now thatsuch standards are in place teachers arebeing encouraged to align their teachingunits and lesson plans to these stan-dards, I stressed in the social studiesmethods course that students learnappropriate preparation for planningand teaching. </p><p>The NCLB Act also addresses theissue of accountability, and it holdsteachers responsible for student learn-ing. With that mandate from the nation-al level, what must teacher-educationprograms do to insure that their preser-vice teachers not only are familiar withcontent standards for which they arelikely to be responsible but also areactually using them in unit and lessonplanning? </p><p>According to Buckles, Schug, andWatts (2001), nearly every state hasadopted its own social studies stan-dards, proficiencies, and guidelines,attempting to incorporate and blendnational standards documents with statecurriculum requirements and other</p><p>Involving Preservice Teachers inSocial Studies Content Standards:Thoughts of a Methods ProfessorJANICE MCARTHUR</p><p>JANICE McARTHUR is chair of the Ele-mentary Education Department in theSchool of Education at Brigham YoungUniversityHawaii in Laie.</p><p>S</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Fond</p><p>ren </p><p>Lib</p><p>rary</p><p>, Ric</p><p>e U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p> ] a</p><p>t 05:</p><p>22 1</p><p>3 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>80 MARCH/APRIL 2004 THE SOCIAL STUDIES</p><p>educational objectives. In our curricu-lum at the university, standards are firstaddressed in the introductory educationcourse for preservice teachers, with ref-erence to standards as a federal mandatebut with little attention to specific con-tent. Teaching the content of the stan-dards is left to the specific methodscourses. In the courses, professors giveclose attention to the standards for theparticular subject, which enables preser-vice teachers to spend a great deal oftime with standards. </p><p>Even though the standards are intro-duced early in teacher educationcourses, questions still remain: Whatare the social studies standards? Whatis standards-based education? Theprocess of answering those questionsrequired a paradigm shift for many ofthe preservice teachers. At the begin-ning of the course, most preserviceteachers were fairly certain that teach-ing social studies meant the teacherasked the students to read an assignedchapter in the textbook and thenanswer the questions at the end of thechapter. When asked what the pupilswere to retain from the assignment, themethods students could not articulatethe focus of the lesson or what was tobe learned. Their common beliefappeared to be that whatever informa-tion is in the chapter is what should betaught. To shift from such thinking,methods students needed to focus onthree areas: What students can beexpected to learn in the discipline, howstudents should be able to use thatknowledge in the classroom, and howteachers can assess what students havelearned (Buckles et al. 2001). The needto assess student learning and teachingpractices created a change in theirthinking and a paradigm shift. </p><p>Problems and Concerns WhenChanging Paradigms</p><p>A concern of those favoring standards-based education is that university meth-ods courses do not reflect the standards-based movement (Thornton 2001). Theycite as evidence the quality of the lessonsthat preservice teachers teach duringtheir school-based placement. Before the</p><p>introduction of standards, preserviceteachers often designed practicumlessons that included activities that theybelieved to be worthwhile even if thelearner outcomes were not obvious.When I began working with elementarypreservice teachers, I found what I con-sidered fluff in the lessons they pre-pared. I define fluff as those activitiesthat were fun for the children to do butwhen the preservice teacher was askedwhy the activity was done or what thestudents learned, he or she had difficultyanswering. The common response was,I thought it was something they wouldenjoy doing or It looked like it wouldbe fun. It was apparent to me that littlethought had been given to learner out-comes during the planning stage.</p><p>Opponents of standards-basedinstruction also expressed concernabout teaching to the test and narrowingthe curriculum by the use of standards.Research has shown that such concernis not unfounded. The literature sug-gests that the balance of teacher instruc-tion will favor what they know to be onthe test (Manzo 2002). Is that, however,enough reason to reject standards-basedcurriculum and instruction or to with-hold support until tests are aligned withthe standards? Most educators wouldsay no.</p><p>The last concern expressed by thoseopposed to standards was that socialstudies may get lost in a curriculum thatstresses literacy and mathematics. In aneffort to alleviate that concern, Manzoquoted Brian M. Stecher, a scientistwith RAND Corporation, who said,Lots of states have adopted standardsfor social studies, theyve put in a lot ofresources to establish statewide curricu-la, theyve selected textbooks thataddress the standards, and they stresstheir belief in the value of the subject(Manzo 2002). </p><p>It was necessary to overcome thoseconcerns and others to make the para-digm shift to the use of standards bypreservice teachers, cooperating teach-ers, and faculty members at the univer-sity level. As a methods course instruc-tor, I looked at those concerns as I beganincorporating standards into my coursecurriculum.</p><p>Strategies for IncorporatingStandards into Methods Classes</p><p>To encourage preservice teachers tothink about how to make social studiesinstruction interesting, I ask this ques-tion at the beginning of each newsemester: When you think of socialstudies, what is the first thing thatcomes to mind? Most students answer,Boring! I then ask, What made itboring? The usual response is,Because we had to read the book allthe time. A discussion of activity-basedcurricula that are aligned with the stan-dards follows the question period. Myhope is that the discussion moves pre-service teachers away from thinkingthat social studies instruction must con-sist only of book lessons.</p><p>Even though the preservice teachershad a cursory introduction to standardsin their first education class, they stillregarded standards to be a new con-cept. Therefore, I spent considerabletime introducing standards, the conceptof teaching with standards, and thespecific content of the NCSS stan-dards. To integrate content standardsinto the methods class, I chose a newmethods textbook that attended to thenational standards, centered classactivities on standards and NCSSthemes, assessed the preservice stu-dents knowledge of standards, and hadthem incorporate standards into theirstudent teaching plans.</p><p>Selecting the Methods Textbook </p><p>For preservice teachers to realize thatsocial studies can be more intriguingthan what they remember, I needed todemonstrate that standards were notboring. I wanted them to be aware thatteaching lessons that are tied to stan-dards is effective. I searched for a text-book that featured both NCSS stan-dards and activity-based lesson plans toteach the standards. After I examinedseveral social studies texts with thatformat, I chose James W. Stockard Jr.sActivities for Elementary School SocialStudies. The methods textbook pro-vides many sample lesson plans forteaching such content areas as history,</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Fond</p><p>ren </p><p>Lib</p><p>rary</p><p>, Ric</p><p>e U</p><p>nive</p><p>rsity</p><p> ] a</p><p>t 05:</p><p>22 1</p><p>3 N</p><p>ovem</p><p>ber </p><p>2014</p></li><li><p>THE SOCIAL STUDIES MARCH/APRIL 2004 81</p><p>political science, and geography at theelementary level. The lessons are tied tothe ten NCSS themes in a reader friend-ly fashion that is easily understood.</p><p>Class Activities</p><p>For an opening activity to introducethe national standards, I divided the pre-service teachers into groups, with eachgroup assigned a national standard. Iasked each group to design a posterillustrating its standard and to includeseveral activities that could be used inthe classroom to teach it. The groupsthen shared their posters with the rest ofthe class.</p><p>The methods students then com-pared state and national standards,receiving an overview of Hawaiis spe-cific social studies content areas forhistory, anthropology, political science,and so forth. Using their posters andcopies of Hawaiis standards, theycompared the two sets of standards.Their comparison of state and nationalstandards helped the preservice teachersee how the two types of standards fittogether.</p><p>After the standards presentation, Idivided the students into groups andassigned a lesson-plan activity fromthe textbook. Each group studied theplan and decided how to apply theideas to teach the lesson to the rest ofthe class. Through that experience, allof the preservice teachers worked witha lesson that relied on activities toteach a standard. The students enjoyedthe format because it allowed for cre-ativity and demonstrated the value ofan activity-based approach to teachingand learning.</p><p>Course Assignments</p><p>The national and state standards alsobecame part of the course assignments,one of which was for the preserviceteachers to develop a social studiesthematic unit. The unit, which had tobe tied to either the national standardsor the Hawaii state standards, helpedthe preservice teachers understand howto do lesson and unit planning withstandards-based curriculum.</p><p>Assessment of Knowledge</p><p>I assessed students knowledge andapplication of standards with a quiz inwhich the students matched a briefdescription to each national theme. Idecided on that assessment so that Icould establish the importance of thethemes (if something is tested, it mustbe important) and could give preserviceteachers a foundation from which toexamine individual content standardsfor the state, reinforcing the conceptthat national and state standards areconnected.</p><p>The final emphasis came at the end ofthe program, when preservice teacherswere student teaching. When teachingsocial studies lessons, they noted ontheir plans which national or state stan-dards they were using in the lesson. Alloutcomes, activities, and assessmentwere to be tied to the stated standard.Because the standards appeared at thebeginning of the lesson plan, theobserver could easily check them. </p><p>What Were the Outcomes?</p><p>The most important outcome of thisjourney was the paradigm shift made bythe preservice teachers. When theybegan the teacher...</p></li></ul>


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