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A great deal of money is spent on purchasing curriculum for a district and school. Using it, is a requirement, but it is not the only source of resources available to incorporate into a lesson. In fact, it is possible that it is too much information. For Ron relying on the textbook and a few videos (though many are probably great and appropriate), the reality is that teachers are required to teach to the standards and not to the curriculum.
A curriculum set can only go so far and cover so much. If Ron continues to only rely on the textbook to teach, he is not preparing his students to be vertically aligned with the standards as they progress to the next level, nor will it prepare them for a state standardized test because those assessments are not based on curriculum, but on standards instead.
Throughout most sets of standards that are aligned for fifth grade, the Declaration of Independence is a standard that must be taught and covered. Kim’s lesson idea is appropriate because she is finding material that meets the needs of her students (which is differentiating), but spending days going over the various parts of the document may be a bit too much and not actually aligned with what the standards expect of fifth grade students.
From my personal experience of teaching fifth grade, the standards that I covered with my students included them understanding the significance of the relationship between people and events associated with the drafting and signing of the Declaration of Independence and the document’s significance, including the key political concepts, the origins of those concepts, and its role in severing ties with Great Britain (DoDEA 5th Grade Social Studies Standards).
Proceeding forward with her lesson idea will take her off the original focus of the lesson which was helping the students to become aware of how historians go about their work. Through strong lesson plans that are mapped out, this can help Kim to stay on the right path of the learning experience for the kids. In fact, Kim’s lesson in my opinion would benefit students that are more advanced and have already met the standard expectations set for their grade level, and they can use the activity to build vocabulary skills.
Simulation activities are an amazing tool to use in the classroom for project-based learning activities. It provides students with the ability to apply real-world scenarios into their learning experience. Through this activity, Sue can cover many aspects of the standards as well as encourage the students to be engaged in the learning activity.
I have used simulations in the past for explorers, American Revolution, colonization, etc., and the students get so much out of the activity that exceeds the expectations of the standards. More than that, the recall of what the learning experience entailed is amazing.
Anytime you can take the learning experience and turn it into something the students can do with hands-on activities, real-world scenarios, and more, increases the likelihood that the students will have so much in the role-playing activity that they forget they are learning. In the text, Elementary Social Studies: A Practical Guide, it suggests that the strong advantage of a simulation is that students are often highly enthusiastic and motivated (Chapin, 2013, p. 92).
Chapin, J. (2013). Elementary social studies: A practical guide (8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson
U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity, (DoDEA). Social Studies Standards.