Preparing students for the 21st century cannot be accomplished without a strong emphasis in the area of social studies. The founders of our country stressed that it is imperative for our future generations to have an understanding of the core concepts of social studies and the willingness as a citizen to participate actively in our society.
Within the new Iowa social studies standards there are instructional shifts, which require teachers to analyze and reflect on the best practices of a social studies classroom. Specific disciplinary knowledge is necessary, but not sufficient for powerful social studies teaching and learning. Social studies is about making and supporting arguments using a variety of sources, providing opportunities for students to work individually and collaboratively in order to communicate their conclusions. The expectations within the new social studies curriculum include teachers crafting questions that spark and sustain an inquiry; integrating skills and content purposefully; providing opportunities for communicating conclusions and taking informed action; and engaging in rigorous, student-centered learning.
The Iowa Core in Social Studies sets the expectation that teachers create compelling and supporting questions to drive their instruction. Students begin to understand the relevance and importance of questions under investigation. They begin to generate their own questions, which builds into an experience of inquiry.
The standards guide the curricular content to be taught and the grade levels at which to teach them. The content should be covered at a deeper level while integrating critical thinking skills.
The shift in teaching social studies includes providing opportunities for communicating conclusions and taking informed action. Students will need opportunities inside and outside the classroom to consider, debate, plan for, and take action.
Civic readiness is a key component of the Iowa social studies standards. Students are expected to work collaboratively to apply civic virtues and principles in a school setting and communicate their conclusions both in and out of the classroom.
The new K-12 Iowa Core in Social Studies are established on the principles of engaging our students in the pursuit of becoming active informed citizens. Students will be led by their teachers through curriculum connecting them to their social world.