The Sacrificing of Social Studies

I would like to begin with stating that I did wrestle for a couple of days with my thoughts for writing my 2nd blog post. In light of the recent events that transpired in our nation’s capital, I am compelled to address a growing trend in elementary schools around the country. The event I am referring to is the video circulating of the teenagers from Covington Catholic High School mocking Nathan Phillips, a Native American who is also a Vietnam veteran, who served this great country of ours. There are various videos and opinions concerning the actions of all involved and I am not addressing those actions in this particular post, but I am going to address the lack of teaching social studies in the elementary grades.

As I have attended various conferences and connected with over a hundred elementary educators through social media the same words have been echoed…teach social studies during reading…social studies is not a tested subject, so we only focus on reading and math….our social studies is on paper only…social studies is replaced with more and more intervention time for the hope of higher test scores. I could ramble on with more statements similar to those mentioned, but the message is the same. The message that social studies is not viewed as an important subject matter in lower grades. I do have a difficult time wrapping my mind around why we have arrived at the thought that teaching children about history, economics, geography, and sociology is not important. Now, I do know how we arrived at this conclusion. We have sacrificed social studies in many schools for the hope of raising standardized test scores.

“Social studies is NOT a vehicle to help us arrive at our reading goal” as stated by LaNesha Tabb at the Get Your Teach On conference in Charlotte, NC. This quote has become my motto when faced with opposition in stressing to administrators and fellow educators the importance of teaching social studies. As educators, we give the world an education. If we truly understand the weight of that statement we realize we must do a better job in educating our students in the area of social studies. Social studies should and deserves its own dedicated time where learners as young as kindergarten explore and learn about the world around them. The National Council for the Social Studies states “If the young learners of this nation are to become effective participants in a democratic society, then social studies must be an essential part of the curriculum throughout the elementary years. In a world that demands independent and cooperative problem solving to address complex social, economic, ethical, and personal concerns, core social studies content is as basic for success as reading, writing, and computing. Knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for informed and thoughtful participation in society require a systematically developed elementary program focused on concepts from the four core social studies disciplines: civics, economics, geography and history.”

I close with this thought, the students from Covington Catholic High School sat in a elementary classroom many years ago and I question what type of foundation was laid for these students. Was the foundation steeped in knowledge of other cultures that make up this great land, was it laid with bricks of tolerance, was it whitewashed or built upon truth of history? The foundation is laid in elementary school, so we need to make sure we are laying a solid one to build upon. Until next time….Dandelion Dreams

Reflections/Decisions

As I begin this post, we will be saying goodbye to 2018 and hello to 2019 in about 8 hours. This is a time to reflect on the past 365 days and decide how to write the next 365 days.

Reflection – 2018 was a wonderful year for room 119. I decided to throw convention to the wind and step even more outside the box (my husband says I don’t even have a box). I attended Get Your Teach On twice, once in Jan. and then again in Oct. and visited the Ron Clark Academy for the first time. These experiences helped me to grow as a teacher and confirm truths I hold dear when it comes to educating young minds. I dove into The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and Game Changer by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp. I can not say enough wonderful words about these two educators. These two are my go to experts in the field of ditch levels or color coding of books and free reading for all. I have probably quoted from these two more than I should to teachers around me…forgive me. Also, I tried every day to bring learning to life for my students. I cried while reading The One and Only Ivan for the third time. I cried explaining how wonderful The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is to a sweet little student. I laughed while making voices for each animal in Creature Features especially when a student answered a question on the test that he learned his teacher speaks blobfish. I hope my students saw in 2018 how much I love them and my passion for learning which will hopefully enable them to fulfill every dream they have for life.

Decisions – 2019 has yet to be written and with that comes decisions on how to fill the 365 pages that await. I have already made a few decisions on how to write a chapter or two or three. Chapter One, will be confronting inequality in the classroom especially for students of poverty. According to the National Center for Children in Poverty, 21% of children live below the federal poverty threshold which is approximately 15 million children. This percentage does not include the combination of poverty/low income families. I will dive into research and thoughts concerning students of poverty/low income in a later post. Chapter Two, I want to become a culturally responsive teacher. I have failed in this area over the years…no more excuses. I must open my own eyes to see and embrace the wonderful diversity that is represented in room 119 and educate myself first and foremost. Chapter Three, I will not settle for mediocrity and accept excuses. I am weary of listening to excuses of why this, we can’t do that, these kids, and so on and so on. No more….room 119 is a no excuse zone! Lastly, I strive to continue to bring back the wonder of learning. Childhood should be a time of amazement and excitement. Is there a better place for this amazement and excitement than in the context of learning? I have become discouraged with the test, test, test scenario of education that has zapped the joy of learning and it is a disservice to children (I’ll also cover that in a later post). May my decisions for 2019 in room 119 impact you to make some decisions about the chapters you choose to write in this new year. Happy New Year! Until again…Dandelion Dreams