A student looking at a globe through a magnifying glass

Real-World Experiences in Social Sciences

26 May 2015 by Scott Sterling

Giving students cool, real-world experiences in social studies has become much easier thanks to technology. What used to require a pen pal, stamps and a lot of time, for example, now only takes a Skype™ connection. Although that is a very worthwhile educational experience in itself, there are plenty of other ways for social science teachers to bring  real-world experiences into their classrooms using technology:

Worldmapper

I mentioned Worldmapper last week in the math post, but it really works better for geography. It helps students visualize the statistics that go into geographic studies by manipulating maps. For instance, the countries might appear larger or smaller than actual size based on their population or gross domestic product (GDP). This can give new life to presentations or reports you might assign.

Minecraft

is one of the most popular video games in the world, which sits fine with teachers and parents because it’s creative and can be educational in the right context. One of those contexts is to have students re-create famous buildings and cities from history, encouraging kids to be as period-accurate as they can. Another possibility is replicating important battlefields. The opportunities are endless when it comes to Minecraft.

Historical Treasure Chests

A big part of social studies is the analysis of primary sources, which leads to the important college- and career-readiness skills of critical thinking and reasoning. Historical Treasure Chests is a unit that asks students to study details surrounding actual primary sources, such as letters, photographs and other artifacts. Once kids have come up with some hypotheses about the sources, they use the Internet to either confirm or revise their suspicions.

Twitter

Twitter has become one of the premier newsgathering resources on the planet. Not only is every news outlet publishing its work on that medium, but some news makers take to the social network themselves to share their stories. Pick a hashtag of an ongoing issue that isn’t receiving a lot of attention and have students follow it. Imagine how enlightening it must have been for students to follow the Arab Spring as it happened a few years ago. There are plenty of other events going on around the world for students to learn about in real time.

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