Elementary Social Studies Program

Northside Independent School District

The goal of Northside ISD's elementary social studies curriculum is to provide students with the tools to become active citizens in their community. An effective social studies program provides students with curriculum that is active, challenging, integrative, meaningful, and value-based. These are the five elements of a powerful social studies teaching endorsed by the National Council for the Social Studies. Our program strives to meet these elements as it also addresses the requirements of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and the NISD Academic Standards.

An active social studies program utilizes numerous resources and is not taught straight out of a textbook. These resources include library resources, children's literature, maps, globes, computer software, Internet resources, and a rich variety of primary sources. Using a variety of primary sources, such as historical photographs, journal entries, and artifacts provide students with a more personal contact to history and can enrich learning. Because of our diverse community, students also participate in field trips to sites that link their learning to their lives.

By enabling our students to use higher order thinking skills, such as evaluation, analysis, and synthesis, we provide students with a challenging social studies program. Students are encouraged to solve problems, make connections, compare and contrast ideas, and analyze the cause and effects of actions as they study social studies content. By using many different models of teaching, including Project Approach, Big6 Information Problem Solving, literature-based instruction, and concept-based instruction keep student actively engaged in learning.

Integration is the key to a successful program. Our K-5 curriculum guides include numerous integration suggestions throughout the units that allow teachers to link social studies themes across the other content areas. Whenever possible, the curriculum merges the social studies content strands (geography, history, citizenship, culture, economics, government, and science/technology) with reading, language arts, science, and math.

Social Studies programs are meaningful when they combine authentic, challenging, and integrative curriculum with meaningful assessment. Rather than rote memorization, students are encouraged to examine, analyze, and synthesize the material through numerous approaches. Assessment criteria are shared with students and they are often part of the process in developing the criteria through the use of rubrics. Integrated benchmark assessments are also utilized to help students make connections between reading / language arts and social studies content and skills.

An excellent social studies program prepares students to become active community members who participate in society. Northside students learn to think about the values of a school society and then apply these values to their lives through our value-based program. An enduring goal of our program is to help students think critically about their own values, and how those values shape them as a person. A value-based program also emphasizes citizenship education. The students in today's classrooms are the leaders of tomorrow. Therefore, we teach students the ideas and skills of democratic citizenship.

A good social studies program should prepare students to become active within their community. By providing a program that includes a curriculum that is active, challenging, integrative, meaningful, and value-based, Northside ISD is leading students in shaping a positive future for our democratic society.