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Skills and Best Practices

Activity 3: Skills and Best Practices

Use of Current Events to Provide Relevancy to Instruction

Social studies is relevant to the life of every American citizen. Students just don’t know this unless we make this connection obvious to them. This activity is a perfect opportunity to talk about establishing a new government based on the American model. Students can follow the process by using newspapers, magazines, and the Internet to follow the process of nation building and the establishment of a new government in Iraq. Ask students to follow this process using these questions:

  • What kind of government are we trying to establish in Iraq?
  • What principles of government do we feel are important for the Iraqi people to adopt?
  • What freedoms are we trying to protect for the Iraqi people?
  • Why do we feel these freedoms are so important?

The following site and others like it will provide additional justification for the use of current events in social studies:

Role Play in Social Studies

The use of role-playing in social studies can help students relate a situation to their own lives. Students learn best when they can connect new learning to prior knowledge. Even though this role-play situation is short it sets the stage for a discussion of rights and responsibilities in relation to the Bill of Rights.

Here are some excellent tips for the use of role-play in the social studies classroom:

Role Play with Traumatic Historical Events

While role-play can be used positively in the social studies, it is not a pedagogically sound choice for dealing with traumatic historical events, such as the Holocaust or slavery in the US.

Role Playing

Role-Playing: A teaching technique that provides a group problem-solving situation in which students explore the problem, alternatives available to them and the personal and social consequences of the proposals. (Barth, James L. Methods of Instruction in Social Studies Education. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1990.) Role playing is a means of trying out and practicing social skills. It also allows for critical analysis of a dilemma, historical event, or social occurrence.

Three aspects of role playing groups:

  1. Briefing- establishing of the situation
  2. Drama or Role-Play
  3. Debriefing-follow up discussion


  1. Know your students, and what they can handle. Don’t allow aspects or characters of the role play to get out of hand or become personal.
  2. Make your students aware of goals, rules, assignments, and expectations of the role-play in advance.
  3. Approximate reality as closely as possible.
  4. Engage in sociodrama, not psychodrama.
  5. Let students know how they will be evaluated in advance.

Types of role playing:

  1. Impromptu Historical Role Playing (teachers and students)
  2. Dramatic Plays Mock Trials *& Mock Presidential Elections
  3. Classroom Problem Resolution & Classroom Constitutional Convention
  4. Social Skills Practice

Student Constructed Bulletin Boards

Students need to take ownership for the creation of the bulletin boards in the classroom. Bulletin boards are instructional tools. In fact, multiple intelligence research includes bulletin boards as a part of the well organized multiple intelligence classroom. Brain research also says that students learn from their environment even while they are attending to the activity for the day.

Updated May 1, 2018 12:14pm