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University of St. Francis logo · College of Education · COE

Methods of Teaching Social Studies in the Elementary School

  • Sample 2021
  • Section SAMPLE
  • 1 Credits
  • 09/15/2021 to 07/29/2100
  • Modified 09/15/2021

Mission Statement

As a Catholic university rooted in the liberal arts, we are a welcoming community of learners challenged by Franciscan values and charism, engaged in a continuous pursuit of knowledge, faith, wisdom, and justice, and ever mindful of a tradition that emphasizes reverence for creation, compassion and peacemaking. We strive for academic excellence in all programs, preparing women and men to contribute to the world through service and leadership. 


Provides an overview of materials, content and methodologies utilized by educators in the elementary social studies curriculum.  Candidates will work to identify the most important social studies knowledge, skills and disposition; investigate how students learn most effectively; and then utilize their new understandings to draw conclusion about what constitutes effective teaching in the social sciences.  Unit planning and a teaching experience in an elementary setting are included in the course.


Co-requisite EDUC 330


College of Education Mission

The mission of the College of Education is to prepare competent and caring educators who understand students, serve the community and develop professionally to become ethical decision-makers and leaders.

Understanding Students

Candidates will explore various areas of learning, development, and motivation. Candidates will examine general tendencies as well as individual differences.  Learning and assessment approaches will be discussed in terms of identifying multiple and diverse means of understanding candidates’ learning and development.

Serving the Community

In this course candidates will discuss desirable characteristics of citizenry in a democracy. Candidates will examine the role of social studies education related to citizenship and the common good.  A teaching experience in a local school comprised of diverse learners will provide candidates with the opportunity to begin meeting the needs of a variety of learners within the elementary context.     

Finding Our Professional Selves

Candidates will demonstrate continuous development of social studies methodology and how they can support learning for all students.  As future social studies teachers, candidates will develop an awareness of their role as democratic citizens both in and out of the classroom.     


Access to standards referenced in this section can be found HERE

Candidates will:

  • Evaluate best practices for social studies instruction and engagement against benchmarks in the NCSS standards (IPTS:  D – 4C, 5F, 6G, 9A)
  • Examine learning theories and apply them in to improve social studies instruction (IPTS:  I – 2J; IPTS:  D - 1A, 1B, 1G, 2A, 2G, 4D)
  • Demonstrate an understanding of when and how to use multiple representations of various methods, including guided discovery and inquiry, in lesson design (IPTS:  I – 2I, 2K; IPTS:  D - 2B, 2C, 2J, 2M, 3N, 4C, 5B, 5I, 5L, 6I; ITPS:  P – 2E)
  • Demonstrate the ability to use process, questioning, and listening skills to improve children's thinking in social studies (IPTS:  D – 4D, 5K, 5M)
  • Demonstrate the ability to plan and evaluate lessons and units in social studies (IPTS: D - 3D, 3F; IPTS:  P – 3B, 3I)
  • Differentiate lessons and units for diverse learners (IPTS: D – 1C, 1G, 2E, 3C, 3O, 5N, 6G; IPTS:  P – 1H, 1J, 1L, 2E, 2P, 5E)
  • Identify community resources to enhance student learning in a real-world context (IPTS:  D – 3K; P – 8T).
  • Examine the curriculum, scope and sequence, and standards related to different goals of social studies education (IPTS: D - 1I, 3A, 9A)
  • Understand the role of value, moral, and character education in the social studies curriculum (IPTS: D - 1E; IPTS:  P - 9I)
  • Demonstrate the ability to assess students in multiple and diverse ways (IPTS:  D - 6J, 7A, 7F; IPTS:  P – 5P, 7D, 7E, 7I, 7K, 7Q)
  • Demonstrate the ability to blend social studies topics and skills into an integrative unit (IPTS:  P – 2D, 2N, 3L, 5D)
  • Begin to cultivate an attitude of professionalism by exhibiting the following behaviors: preparedness, neatness, organizational skills, poise, leadership, self-motivation, responsibility, promptness, professional curiosity, and proper oral and written communication skills (IPTS:  D - 1K; IPTS:  P - 1F)


Introduced  2I, 2J, 2K

Developing  1A, 1B, 1C, 1E, 1F, 1G, 1I, 1K, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2E, 2G, 2J, 2M, 3A, 3C, 3D, 3F, 3K, 3N, 3O, 4C, 4D, 5B, 5F, 5I, 5K, 5L, 5M, 5N, 6G, 6I, 6J, 7A, 7F, 9A

Proficient  1H, 1J, 1L, 2D, 2E, 2N, 2P, 3B, 3I, 3L, 5D, 5E, 5P, 7D, 7E, 7I, 7K, 7Q, 8T, 9I


Course Requirements

1a. Discussions & Response Guides (30% undergrads; 15% grads)

Virtual attendance and participation every week are required.  The majority of class sessions involve class interaction and candidate presence if course objectives are to be achieved.  Candidates are required to read all assigned readings (and refer to them within their responses via in-text citations) to successfully participate in class interactions/discussions/response guides (readings can be found electronically on Canvas).  Candidates MUST participate in class discussions about methodology issues that surface in their field experiences.  This is a place to share and compare what is happening in the field to what research/theory says should be happening.

The instructor will deduct points from the final grade for lack of participation, attendance, and/or punctuality.  Late posts to discussions will not be accepted for credit.  For every day that a response guide is late, points will be deducted from the candidates’ score for that assignment.

1b. Virtual or Site-Based Field Trip Project – GRADUATES ONLY (15%)

Graduate candidates will research options for field trips based on the unit topic for their Curriculum Mapping Activity, after which they will plan a field trip for students, either site-based or virtual.  Pretend that USF is the location of the school for the purpose of calculating mileage, costs, etc.  Ideally, this location should offer interdisciplinary experiences for students.  As part of this assignment, candidates will determine the overall cost of the trip per student, including transportation (forms provided on Canvas). Candidates will create a sample itinerary, summary of services provided during the trip, ties to learning standards, summary of student grouping (if applicable), and parent communication and permission forms.  Samples and forms are provided on Canvas.

2. Social Studies Resource List (30%)

Candidates will create a list of resources from which they can plan and teach an elementary unit of study.  This list must include at least one textbook, two graphic organizers to support student learning, three websites and/or apps, and four children’s literature books.  The candidate will provide a summary of each resource, a description of how the resource aligns to the chosen topic with regard to content, instructional practice, and student learning.  Research and theory is expected to be synthesized and referenced within the final document to rationalize the use of the resources according to best practices.

3. Social Studies Unit Curriculum Mapping (40%)

Candidates will choose a unit topic and grade level aligned to the New Illinois Learning Standards for Social Studies (2016).  Then, using the graphic organizers provided on Canvas, candidates will design a framework for a mini unit of study (3 lessons, not including summative assessment or field trip days) related to their topic, integrating course content pertaining to methodologies and best practices for teaching social studies, including the domains of the C3 Framework and the 10 Content Themes of NCSS.  A summary and rationale for the week will be provided, connecting to research and theory and articulating differentiation strategies for a diverse context of learners.

Institutional Policies

Students should use the USF portal as the first resource for guidance and support on items such as student complaints, safety, security and transportation questions, contact information for various USF departments, student support services such as counseling and academic resources. Information on these resources can be found in the For Students section of the USF portal.

A complete listing of university policies and procedures can be found in the University of St. Francis Catalog and Student Handbooks. 

Students are expected to be familiar with and follow the various procedures and guidelines regarding USF’s COVID-19 Response, including the USF Preparedness Plan and other materials incorporated in the Saints United resource hub (

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity requires that all academic work be wholly the product of an identified individual or individuals. Collaboration is only acceptable when it is explicitly acknowledged. Ethical conduct is the obligation of every member of the University community, and breaches of academic integrity constitute serious offenses. Since a lack of integrity hinders the student’s academic development, it cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. Violations include but are not limited to: cheating, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, plagiarism, and denying others access to information or material. See the University of St. Francis Catalog for further clarification and information on grievance procedures.

Services and Accommodations for Students with Disabilities (ADA)

The University strives to be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the ADA Amendments Act (ADAAA). A student who requires special accommodations or arrangements due to a disability should contact the Office of Disability Services. This contact preferably should occur no later than the first week of classes. Early contact before the semester starts is encouraged to allow sufficient time to provide accommodations. Extra time is needed for some types of accommodations such as sign language interpreters or special text formatting. Should a need arrive after the start of a semester; the student is encouraged to contact the Office of Disability Services as soon as possible. Note that accommodations are not retroactive. Each case will be reviewed on an individual basis to determine reasonable and appropriate accommodations.

USF is committed to ensuring the full participation of all students in its programs, regardless of the course format. If you have a documented disability and need a reasonable accommodation to participate in a course, complete course requirements, or benefit from the University’s programs or services, please contact the Office of Disability Services at 815-740-3631 or [email protected] . The Office of Disability Services is in the Academic Resource Center (ARC) and is located on the second floor of the LaVerne and Dorothy Brown Library in room L214. Consultations are welcome, please contact the Office of Disability Services for an appointment.

Notice of Copyright

This course may contain copyrighted materials that are intended to support the learning experiences of students currently enrolled in the course. No student may retain or further disseminate any copyrighted materials, in their entirety or any portion thereof, under penalty of law.

Technology Support

If you are experiencing any difficulty using Canvas or need technical assistance, you have several options to receive support:

  1. 24x7 Live Canvas Support. Canvas has a 24 hour support by clicking on ? Help while in Canvas. You can Chat with Canvas Support, Report a Problem, or call the Canvas Support Hotline. If you experience technical difficulties or have a question about Canvas, you can receive support 24 hours a day seven (7) days a week through the Canvas help menu. From the help menu; select Report a Problem to send an email support request, select Chat with Canvas Support (Student) for a “live” text-based click-to-chat session, or to speak to someone directly use the toll-free number listed under the Canvas Support Hotline (Student). NOTE: Responses to Canvas’ email based Report a Problem request system will go to your USF email account, NOT your personal email.
  2. Online Self-Service Help Resources. A student user guide and other resources for solving issues related to Canvas can be found at
  3. You can phone the Technology Support Center for personal help at (815) 768-8324 or (866) 337-1497 (toll-free) between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM Central Standard Time, Monday through Friday or fill out a Technology Support Center ticket and select Canvas/Online courses as the component.

For any technical support issues that are not related to Canvas, you can also contact the USF Technology Support Center (TSC). You can reach them via:

Academic Support Services

The Academic Resource Center (ARC) located in Room L214 in the Library (815-740-5060) offers various types of academic services.  Online and distance learning students can contact ARC for appropriate resources.  ARC serves students who need tutoring in many areas of study including writing and math.  Library services include a number of online services and full text databases.  Call the Library at 815-740-5041 for additional information.  If you need academic-related resources or assistance, please contact the Academic Resource Center.