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Formative Assessment

Activity 2: Formative Assessment

Printable Student View

Now that you know that people in a community specialize to perform a job, you will explain how these people depend on each other to meet their needs both personally and professionally.

Think about the following occupations.

Barber / HairdresserPrincipal
Gas station ownerFactory Worker
Pizza Delivery PersonDry Cleaner
Computer RepairmanNurse

Choose three community workers. List three other workers they would depend on and who would also depend on them. Explain how the individuals depend on each other.


  1. Explanation: 
  2. Explanation: 
  3. Explanation: 

Skills and Best Practices

Activity 2: Skills and Best Practices

Graphic Organizers

Graphic Organizers / Webbing

The Compendium of Instructional Strategies provides a rationale for the use of graphic organizers.

Graphic Organizers / Webbing: A diagram that represents the relationships of ideas or information using words or abstract symbols. Graphic organizers assist students to:

  1. attend to and isolate important information;
  2. organize information into coherent structures;
  3. integrate information and see relationships between concepts and elements;
  4. clarify and synthesize component parts of larger concepts.

Teachers and students can use graphic organizers:

  1. to activate current knowledge;
  2. to present information or explain concepts;
  3. to take notes while listening, reading, or viewing;
  4. to organize and summarize information;
  5. to assess student learning.



Simulation/Role Play

Instructional Strategies Online defines simulation as a form of “experiential learning.”

In addition, they view simulations and role-play as a way to extend student thinking. Often we associate simulations with active learning, but after the fun of playing the game, we forget to use the experience to foster critical and evaluative thinking.

Simulations promote the use of critical and evaluative thinking. The ambiguous or open-ended nature of a simulation encourages students to contemplate the implications of a scenario. The situation feels real and thus leads to more engaging interaction by learners. They are motivating activities enjoyed by students of all ages.


This site also provides the teacher with:

  • a description of the purpose of simulations
  • some advantages and disadvantages of using simulations
  • some suggestions for how to set up simulations and role-plays
  • some suggestions for assessing the effectiveness of a simulation
  • Does this simulation offer an appropriate measure of realism for my group of students?
  • Are the desired instructional outcomes well defined?
  • Is the level of ambiguity manageable for this group?
  • Does the student demonstrate an understanding of his/her role?
  • Are problem solving techniques in evidence?
  • Does the research being generated match the nature of the problem?
  • Is cooperation between participants in evidence?
  • Has the student been able to resolve the issue satisfactorily?
  • Does the student provide meaningful answers to probing questions?
  • Will follow-up activities be necessary?


The site also provides additional resources and websites.

Formative Assessment

Activity 1: Formative Assessment

Printable Student View

The following is a list of applicants for the various jobs required to make a restaurant successful. Based on each description, write a brief explanation as to what position you would hire that person for. You will need to hire:

  • A cook
  • Two waitresses
  • A person to clear the tables
  • A dishwasher
  • An accountant
  • A hostess / cashier
  • Mrs. Brown
    I have worked in the restaurant business for 15 years. I was recently in an automobile accident and I must now stay in a wheelchair. However I have excellent math and computer skills.
  • B. Gloria
    I am a part-time college student. My classes are from 8:00 to 10:00 each morning. I am available to work the rest of the day and evening. I have never worked in a restaurant, but I enjoy talking to people and I have lots of energy.
  • Darrin
    I am 16 years old and I want to earn some extra money to pay for my car insurance. I am shy around strangers, but I am dependable and willing to work.
  • Julie
    I am a mother of three and I have been a waitress for 10 years. I am available to work each school day and some evenings.
  • Andrew
    I am a high-school student who needs to earn extra spending money. I am available to work most evenings and weekends. I am athletic and strong enough to carry heavy loads.
  • Angela
    I am a retired teacher who is looking for some extra spending money. I know lots of people in town. I’m not a strong as I used to be and excessive walking tires me. I have also worked in a local store as a cashier.
  • Mark
    I am creative and hard working. I come from a very large family and my parents left all of the cooking to me. I have had my own catering business, but I do not enjoy bookkeeping and advertising. People rave about my delicious dishes.

Skills and Best Practices

Activity 1: Skills and Best Practices

Use of Surveys and Interviews

Using surveys and interviewing is an excellent way to build confidence in a student’s oral language skills. This is especially important for students learning English for the first time. Writing the survey questions also provides the opportunity for less confident students to interact with others in a cooperative group setting.

This site provides some excellent strategies for using surveys and interview to work with this type of student. For example, this site suggests developing and using surveys will:

  • Promote the development of your English Language Learners’ oral language skills and content area vocabulary through oral surveys written in a cooperative group setting.
  • Surveys provide your English language learners with a real reason to communicate with everyone in their mainstream class. They learn how to ask questions and acquire new content area vocabulary

Specifically, surveys will give your students practice in the following areas

  • Acquisition and use of content area vocabulary
  • Preparation of a survey
  • Interaction and negotiation of meaning with English-speaking peers
  • Construction of oral questions
  • Construction of a chart-synthesizing information
  • Record information accurately

Teaching Social Studies Through Literature

Carole J. Wilkinson, Teacher-in-Residence of the Delaware Social Studies Education Project states:

The elementary teacher need not always squeeze social studies into a separate spot in a schedule already bursting at the seams. Teach social studies through literature and infuse life into subjects that children, heretofore, may have thought they didn’t like. A good story stimulates interest in the history, geography, economics, and civics that contribute to its dynamic character. Take it from there.


This site offers numerous suggestions and strategies for doing this. It also provides a wealth of additional resources. It also suggests that asking students questions about what they read provides the opportunity to planning the writing experience. For example, when discussing Foster’s War, following guide questions provide the information for an informative paragraph:

  • What activities did Foster and other members of his family participate in that supported the war effort?
  • From your contact with people you have interviewed, what other activities supported the war effort?
  • From the primary sources you have explored, what additional activities supported the war effort?
  • Have you explained why each activity is important?
  • What order will best present your ideas logically and clearly?
  • Is your sentence structure clear?
  • Have you corrected errors in spelling, capitalization, punctuation, etc.?

Activity 3

Student Activity 3

Essential Questions

How does specialization affect production?


It is more effective to produce goods by breaking down the production into actual tasks and assigning individuals to complete these tasks. By using this method, higher quality goods can be produced.

Specialized tasks of bridge building


Strategy 1

Thinking Skills: Procedural Knowledge

  • Have the students scan the following recipes. Guide the discussion to the kinds of resources needed to make each of these recipes by asking the following questions:
    1. What kind of resources do the items in the recipes represent?
    2. Why are they necessary to produce a quality product?
    3. What might happen if we substituted other items for those listed in the recipes?
    4. What other resources are needed to produce the product?
    5. Who will make the products?
    6. Who will buy the food needed for the recipes?
  • Have students review the directions for construction of a recipe book. Divide the class into cooperative groups and have them brainstorm the best way to produce a recipe book. Provide them with the recipes and the directions for completing the book.
  • Allow time for each group to put together the recipe book. Monitor the process to be sure each group is constructing a quality product (Quality Control) and is following the directions for constructing the book.
  • Talk about the completed products. Ask each group what the process was for constructing the recipe book. Have the groups that produced the most booklets talk about how they were able to do produce more. Lead the discussion to a reflection on the following questions?
Check for Understanding

  • Why is the cooperative division of tasks the best way to produce quality products in the least amount of time?

Strategy 2

Link to Literature

  • Use the following book to initiate a discussion of resources needed to produce a product: The Goat in the Rug, Charles L. Blood and Martin Link

    Use the following questions to guide the discussion:

    • What is the product that is being produced?
    • What are the resources Glenmae needs to produce the rug?
    • Put the questions on the board or on chart paper for later use.

    Divide the class into small groups. Have the groups first discuss what the different types of resources are. Have them give examples of each.

    Distribute a set of cards to each group with the resources from the story printed on them. Provide each group with a large piece of chart paper divided into three sections: natural, human, and capital. Have the groups cooperatively sort the cards to fit the three categories. Have them fill in the chart and display it on the wall. Discuss the completed charts and assess them for accuracy.

    Printable Student View

    Resources Needed to Produce a Rug


    Have the students re-read the story looking for the various tasks needed to produce the rug.

    • Ask them to record each task on a separate card.
    • Have them arrange the cards in the proper sequence.
    • Have the groups share their sequence of tasks and initiate a discussion to have the total class come to consensus on the correct sequence.

    Construct a bulletin board display using pictures to illustrate this sequence of events. Use the bulletin board to initiate a discussion of the production process. Ask the following questions:

    • How could the production process be improved to promote the production of more then one rug?
    • Would more rugs be produced in the same amount of time if tasks were shared by other people?

    Check for Understanding

    • A rug company saw the beautiful rug that Glenmae made and asked her to make 50 more of them to sell in their store by the next month. Write a letter to Glenmae explaining what she will need to do in order to have the rugs ready for delivery.

Activity 2

Student Activity 2

Essential Questions

What are the personal benefits of specialization?


Producing a product consumes resources. The greater the production, the greater the resources consumed. Specialization usually requires the producer to rely on others to meet some of their needs for resources.

Instructional Strategies

Strategy 1


  • Have students work in groups to extend the following web. Have each group choose a different occupation for the center of the web. The web for each group will be different, as the relationship between jobs is different.
  • Add additional jobs to the web that are directly related to the primary job in the center of the web. Add jobs that are related to other jobs. Make your web as big as it needs to be by adding additional circles to show the relationships.
  • When all of the webs are complete and presented, compare them to see if there are some occupations listed on more than one of the webs. When placed together in a large group, have children identify areas where the smaller webs can be joined to make one great web. Have students explain why one job may be on several webs.

Check for Understanding

  • How does specialization make people become more interdependent?

Strategy 2

Simulation/Role Play

  • Using large tags of different colors with occupations written on them, assign different occupations to individual students. (Mail man, Grocery Store Owner, Doctor, Teacher, Police Officer, Banker, Electrician, Plumber, Department Store Owner, Pharmacist) Be sure that students understand what each occupation is.
  • Divide the community workers into two groups:
    • Workers who provide goods
    • Workers who provide services
  • Give each community worker a set of 12 strips of paper, corresponding in color to the color of his/her name tag.
    • When each individual gets their turn, they become the producer and the others who receive their strip (service, goods) is the consumer.
    • With the help of the group, have the individual workers decide which of the others they might need to depend on for either goods or services.
    • As the need is determined, the worker (producer) gives one of his/her colored strips to the other worker (consumer). For instance the mailman delivers mail to all of the people listed, so he would give each individual one of his strips to represent the service he provides. At the end of the trading session, students should understand that most of the goods or services are traded and that people in a community depend on each other to meet their personal needs.

Activity 1

Student Activity 1

Essential Questions

Why do individuals choose to specialize?


In a community, people tend to choose jobs that match their own set of skills and talents. This specialization allows them to produce goods or services of use to other people, while doing a job of interest to them. In addition, they earn an income that they in turn give to others to pay for the goods and services they need, but no not produce on their own.

Instructional Strategies

Strategy 1

Conducting an Interview

Have the children respond to the following question:

  • Why do people work?

Accept several reasonable answers and use these responses to initiate a written response to the question. Provide time for students to work in groups to complete their responses. Display the written responses and discuss.

Extend the discussion by having the students generate a list of jobs that people do in communities. Talk about the special skills and talents that people must have to do each of the jobs.

Have each group choose one of the jobs listed to further talk about the skills and talents needed to do the job. Have them construct a chart to record their responses.

Printable Student View

Community Job
Skills and Talents Needed for the Job

If time allows, have them add additional jobs to their charts. Have each group post their chart and share the discussion with the total class.

Talk about the wide variety of skills and talents needed to make a community grow and prosper. Discuss the following question:

  • Why do we need to depend on other people to do jobs for us?

Relate this discussion to your own community. Have each group of students interview a parent, neighbor, school employee, or mentor using the following questions as well as other questions generated by the class.

Printable Student View

Interview Questions

  • What is your job?
  • What skills and/or talents are needed to do your job well?
  • Why did you choose to do this job?
  • Is there any other job you think you would enjoy? Why?


Have each group report the findings from their interview.

Check for Understanding:

  • Write a summary of the interview based on responses to the questions.

Strategy 2

Connections to Literature

  • Read to the class: Miss Nelson Is Missing, by Harry Allard. Have the students focus on:
    • Miss Nelson’s job
    • The problems she has with it
    • The personal qualities required for her job.
  • Relate this story to other stories you have read about in which characters in stories have had interesting and useful jobs. Have the students write a description about one of these jobs. In the description, be sure to have the students think about:
    • Which character in your story has a job and what is it?
    • What did you learn about this job by reading the story?
    • What problems did the character have with the job?
    • How were these problems solved?
    • What traits does the character have that influenced the job?

Formative Assessment

Activity 3: Formative Assessment

Printable Student View

  1. What causes market failures?
    1. Governments do not distribute resources efficiently in the market.
    2. Producers and consumers do not agree on needs.
    3. Markets on their own do not distribute resources efficiently.
    4. Consumers do not signal their wants and needs to the producers.
  2. Why are free riders a type of market failure?

 Score Guide

Skills and Best Practices

Activity 3: Skills and Best Practices

Case Studies/Problem Solving

John J. Patrick, Director of the Social Studies Development Center and Professor of Education, Indiana University has described nine trends in social studies education which have broad potential for influencing civic education.

Among these is the use of case studies:


Teachers are requiring students to apply core concepts or principles to the analysis of case studies. Thus, students may demonstrate that they understand a concept by using it correctly to organize and interpret information in a case about the political behavior of individuals and groups. Case studies may also be about legal disputes decided by judges or juries in a court of law. The use of case studies brings the drama and vitality of authentic civic life into the classroom and demands the practical application of academic ideas to make sense of the data of civic reality. The content of case studies often is taken from the pages of daily newspapers, weekly news magazines, or televised documentaries.


The other trends include:

  • The systematic teaching of core concepts
  • Development of decision-making skills
  • Development of participatory skills and civic virtues
  • The use of literature to teach civic virtues
  • Active learning
  • The conjoining of content and process in teaching and learning

Taking a Position on an Issue

This discussion paper by Dr. John Malouff and Dr. Nicola Schutte argue for the need for teachers to take a more active role in the teaching of problem solving. Too often in our rush to teach social studies facts and information, we forget that the reason we teach this information is for students to use it in solving real life problems:

Formative Assessment

Activity 2: Formative Assessment

Printable Student View

  1. What economic powers did the federal government lack under the Articles of Confederation?
  2. What are some economic powers granted to the federal government under the Constitution?

 Score Guide