Although significant emphasis is placed on language arts and mathematics in the Common Core State Standards, these educational guidelines also present educators with a unique way to incorporate greater social studies content into their lessons. Despite its waning popularity in some schools, social studies remains a critical component of the education system.
Stopping the slide
In 2000, social studies subjects occupied a substantially larger place in many schools’ curricula than they do today. The introduction of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 emphasized the instruction of subjects such as mathematics and language arts with a focus on improving numeracy and literacy, much as the CCSS do in some respects. However, as greater focus was placed on these areas, social studies began to fall by the wayside.
For example, language arts instruction took up approximately 47 percent of third-graders’ classroom time, compared to the mere 10 percent devoted to social and physical sciences combined. Despite this, it has been proven that around 55 percent of students’ vocabulary is learned in social studies classes, indicating the tremendous importance of addressing this imbalance.
Embracing the opportunity
However, the CCSS’ renewed focus on critical thinking and analytical skills has been seen by some educators as a potential “Sputnik” moment for social studies instruction. The convergence of government-led legislation regarding educational attainment in the U.S. and heightened awareness of the CCSS could shed light on the fact that, for some time, social studies has been placed on the backburner.
The renewed interest in the educational expectations of today’s students must be leveraged as an opportunity to reintroduce social studies into the curricula of modern classrooms. With ever-more innovative teaching tools at their disposal, educators must tailor and adapt their lessons to incorporate greater social studies and historical content into their teaching plans to ensure that students receive the well-rounded and holistic education they deserve.
Blueprints for success
There is hope for renewed focus on social studies within the context of the CCSS. The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) framework has sparked a nationwide debate among academic leaders on the potential for the standards to solidify the link between social studies and the Common Core.
In addition, the C3 Inquiry Arc encourages teachers to create engaging lesson plans that not only relate material to students in an understandable way, but also prompt learners to formulate questions, evaluate evidence, apply concepts and, ultimately, draw their own conclusions – skills that will serve them well in college and the workforce.
Want to learn more about how social studies can help you take on the Common Core? Download our free whitepaper, Common Core Presents Opportunities for Social Studies.