Special Report
Social Studies

Social Studies Relies on Tech Tools That Are Not Tailored to the Subject

By Michelle R. Davis — June 12, 2017 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Technology has changed social studies instruction in many ways—bringing primary sources to students’ classrooms, allowing access to archival information, and using interactive maps to visualize migration or population trends.

But many of the tools social studies teachers are using—everything from GoogleEarth to Prezi or Nearpod—are not specific to the subject.

Bethany Petty, a technology blogger and American government teacher at Central High School in Park Hills, Mo., uses general technology tools like Screencastify to produce videos on government concepts, EDpuzzle for interactive videos and formative assessments, and game-based Kahoot! to check for understanding.

Many of these creation apps and sites are good tools for helping students collaborate on lessons, detail their knowledge in a meaningful and individualized way, and promote historical and critical thinking, Petty said.

But these are tools that will work in just about any subject. Educators report there are fewer social-studies-specific digital curriculum offerings available than for subjects like math and English/language arts, which are part of the Common Core State Standards.

That seems to be changing. Educators are making use of Discovery Education’s digital Social Studies Techbook, IXL’s adaptive social studies middle school curriculum, and lesson plans from iCivics.

In addition, the sites allowing access to archival information, primary sources, interactive information, and video about everything from ancient Mesopotamia to the Holocaust have changed how students think about what they study. Sites such as the British Museum, World Digital Library, the Library of Congress, and Go Social Studies Go all offer material that is also adaptable based on grade level and interest, said Rachel Langenhorst, a technology integrationist and instructional coach and former social studies teacher at Rock Valley Community school district in Iowa.

The technology can “bring the outside in,” she said.

Related Tags:

Coverage of learning through integrated designs for school innovation is supported in part by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York at www.carnegie.org. Education Week retains sole editorial control over the content of this coverage.
A version of this article appeared in the June 14, 2017 edition of Education Week as Social Studies: Many of the digital tools teachers use are not tailored to the subject

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Academic Integrity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
As AI writing tools rapidly evolve, learn how to set standards and expectations for your students on their use.
Content provided by Turnitin
Recruitment & Retention Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Chronic Teacher Shortage: Where Do We Go From Here?  
Join Peter DeWitt, Michael Fullan, and guests for expert insights into finding solutions for the teacher shortage.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
The Science of Reading: Tools to Build Reading Proficiency
The Science of Reading has taken education by storm. Learn how Dr. Miranda Blount transformed literacy instruction in her state.
Content provided by hand2mind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Social Studies Opinion Teaching the Holocaust Is Daunting—But Critical
It's not enough to relate the facts; students need to consider the roles of perpetrators and bystanders.
Deborah Lauter
3 min read
Illustration of stock photo details of train tracks of The Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands.
Detail of train tracks at the Westerbork transit camp in the Netherlands, where Jews were deported to killing centers and concentration camps by the Germans between 1942-1945.
Vanessa Solis/EdWeek + iStock/Getty
Social Studies Opinion Teachers Are First Responders in an Ugly Partisan Divide
A middle school teacher argues that an investment from the federal government in civic education can help restore a common sense of purpose.
Jacob Goodwin
4 min read
Collaged illustration of various United States history events, icons, and people.
Vanessa Solis/EdWeek + Getty Images
Social Studies Florida's Ban on AP African American Studies, Explained
Florida high schoolers will not be able to take an AP Black history course, after the course was banned for allegedly being inaccurate and illegal.
7 min read
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks after being sworn in to begin his second term during an inauguration ceremony outside the Old Capitol on Jan. 3, 2023, in Tallahassee, Fla. DeSantis' administration has blocked a new Advanced Placement course on African-American studies from being taught in high schools, saying the class violates state law and that it is historically inaccurate.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks after being sworn in to begin his second term on Jan. 3 in Tallahassee, Fla. DeSantis' administration has blocked a new high school Advanced Placement course on African-American studies, claiming it violates state law.
Lynne Sladky/AP
Social Studies Bipartisan Civics and History Guidelines Get a Dose of Federal Funding
The money will go toward curating curriculum and providing professional development for teachers.
4 min read
photo collage of American Flag, Capitol building and the United States Constitution
iStock/Getty Images Plus