Professional Development

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From the time I was born I have loved social studies.  As a child I read everything I could get my hands on that related to history, whether it was social, political, or military history.  This love for history was fostered through the influence of both of my parents who were teachers - especially my father, the "social studies guru," as I used to call him.  My love for history and all fields of social studies continued throughout my K-12 educational experience and it was at graduation that I realized what I wanted to do with my life: be a social studies teacher.

One important goal I hold dear as a social studies educator is to provide my students with a comfortable educational atmosphere in which we accomplish several goals.  First of all I have a strong desire for my students to truly master the knowledge I teach them in class.  They will need to master the skills, terms, concepts, scope and sequence of historical events, and more importantly the critical thinking skills that are necessary in my class, their other classes, and more importantly, in their everyday lives.  Additionally, I find it important that my students grasp and appreciate the impact that social studies has had on the world in which they live in.  

Philosophically-speaking, I adhere to the "social reconstructionist" approach to education, as this approach lends itself well to social studies.  My overall goal as an educator for my students to take the knowledge they have learned in my class, along with the critical thinking skills they have mastered, and apply these to their everyday lives.  As a result, as a social studies educator I strive to provide a significant amount of application and synthesis-based activities in all of my classes.  I understand that testing students for recall and basic rote information is vital to a good educational experience, but I find more interest and necessity in testing the students' ability to critically think and apply themselves to solve real-world problems.  All social studies classes lend themselves nicely to this approach.  Here is a list of potential projects I will use if teaching various social studies classes: conducting a presidential campaign in a government class, simulating a stock-market exchange in economics, creating an environmental campaign to save a natural habitat in a social issues class, or presenting a multimedia history report on the impact of historical figures on today's world.  Now, the last example can take several shapes and forms, but doesn't have to be quite as thorough as the following clip (but it would be most excellent!):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijqnsRqSo2k&feature=related 

In order to accomplish my overall goal I will implement the use of technology extensively in my classes.  Besides using multimedia sources such as videos, audio clips, PowerPoint presentations, the Internet for finding supplemental articles, document cameras, INFOCUS projectors, and SMARTBoards, I will provide a wealth of technological resources for students to use on their application-based projects and require the use of different technology in each assignment.  

The key to the future is for our students to take the knowledge they have learned in school and apply it to relevant use in the real world.  Their sharpened critical thinking and reasoning skills coupled with their new-found knowledge base will enhance their ability to perpetuate a successful world for themselves and future generations.  As evident in social studies education, the goal of educators is to foster good citizenship in their students, and my goal as a social studies educator is to make students aware that they need to become productive citizens in the real world after their educational career is complete.  With the burgeoning reliance on technology we see all over the world, it is vital that the "citizen-building" we foster in our classrooms be significantly intertwined with the use of technology in order to achieve our overall purpose as educators.  Ultimately, we need to ensure our students, upon completing their educational careers, will be productive citizens in the real world, who possess the necessary technological skills to help lead the world successfully in the years to come.  


Here are some samples of lessons and projects implementing technology in social studies classes:



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