Lead the Class Module 5: Technology and Teaching the Social Sciences


What are the social sciences? Social sciences can cover a wide range of topics including psychology, sociology, political science, economics, and even history. Unfortunately, this is one of the topics that is losing attraction and being put on the back burner, figuratively speaking. Social sciences have present a critical need to be taught in schools' curriculum. The social sciences are being taught in the social studies curriculum. Teachers need to be able to not only understand the content but be able to translate it to students in kid-friendly language using appropriate teaching pedagogy.

To activate prior knowledge and see what your students know, you can have students create a word diagram starting with the words 'Social Sciences' and see what they come up with!

According to Acikalin and Duru (2005), the Internet is being used more and more in educational settings. The researchers also stated that over 90% of schools are implementing online-based teaching strategies to engage learners and promote learning. The researchers conducted a study in the state of Indiana in a middle-school social studies classroom. The study highlighted that 85% of students that frequently used these online programs showed growth and understanding on the social studies topics.

Goals and Expectations

This week, our goals are:

  • View the contents of this module including videos and the two required readings
  • Complete Module 5 discussion by answering the following questions:

1.How can online-based programs enchance student learning?

2. How can teachers effectively teach social studies content with the integration of technology? Give two examples.

Essential Questions

How can teachers effectively teach the socials sciences using technology?

How can web-based programs enhance student learning?

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. -Albert Einstein
Many teachers struggle with motivating students to learn. This is especially prevalent in social studies classrooms in which students perceive social studies as boring (Schug, Todd, & Berry, 1984).

Students in the social studies classrooms often feel that they struggle in this particular subject due to past experiences in these types of classes where they have been primarily required to memorize names and dates. With the information they have memorized, they are then often asked to take difficult multiple choice tests that do not adequately or authentically assess learning. Educators suggest that lack of student interest in social studies is related to the instructional methods utilized in disseminating information (Martorella, 1997). Incorporating technology into social studies classrooms can greatly enhance student engagement.

Image found from: http://classroom-aid.com/2013/03/07/interactive-games-in-social-science-classroom/

Ignite Learning is a wonderful resource for teachers needed support with lesson plans, media, student-centered activities, assessments, and ways to activate prior knowledge and build critical thinking skills in a social studies classroom. This resource also emphasizes how the arts and media can play a major role in student learning while keeping the rigor.

Required Texts

Web-based programs in the social studies classroom

In a study conducted by Olga Kachina, the researcher evaluated the teaching tool WebQuests, which are student-centered activities, versus traditional-teacher led methods in an 8th grade U.S. History class. Students benefited from the critical thinking skills and inquiry-based lessons. However, in conclusion the results of this study proved that there was not sufficient research included to show statistically significant results. This lack of data leads to critical need to evaluate other studies.

Virtual Reality Field Trips

In past decades, field trips have long been used as a connection for teaching and learning history in the social studies classroom. However, field trips are being cut from many schools’ curriculum. Today’s technologies provide some opportunities through virtual reality field trips to simulate these experiences, engage students in knowledge production and disciplined inquiry, and have interactions with the dedicated staff members from these historic sites. When integrated into the curriculum and not used as rewards, field trips can be among the most valuable and effective modes of history teaching, especially local historic sites (Noel, 2007). Google Expeditions is just one of many virtual reality apps that can take your students around the world!

Interactive Content Galleries can bring social studies to life. The topics include Ancient History, Archaeology, Family History, World Wars, and British History. If students are struggling with picturing the content, click here.

Working on map skills with students but struggling to make meaningful connections? Use World Map Interactive Games for students to practice at home, in class, or even on the bus! Using this online-based program, students will be able to successfully identify continents, countries, and even capitals!

The article "Primary Sources in the Social Studies Classroom: Historical Inquiry with Book Backdrops", examines the use of children's literature and promotes the use of primary resources in the secondary classroom. The Common Core State Standards ask teachers to include primary resources in their middle and high school social studies instruction. Cowgill (2015) explains that digital primary sources are at an advantage because they are easily accessible and can sometimes be edited to fit the needs of your individual students. Today's online databases provide teachers with a vast variety of primary resources that can be used to visually enhance lessons. Some online primary sources include: pictures, maps. cartoons, speeches, videos, and music. The following screenshots display images from an app called DocsTeach that can be used in your own classroom to find primary resources:


Activity: Engage Your 5th Grade Traveler!

Do you teach more than one subject? Are you self-contained? Want to teach across the curriculum? Try the activity above. This 5th grade activity meets the needs of math and social studies standards. Also, in the week's discussion, we would love to hear how to integrate multiple subjects into one lesson.

Interested in more? Books to further your understanding on teaching the social sciences

  • Creative Research Methods in the Social Sciences: A Practice Guide by Helen Kara
  • The Impact of the Social Sciences by Jane Tinkler, Patrick Dunleavy, and Simon Bastow


Acikalin, M. & Duru, E. (2005). The use of computer technologies in the social studies classroom, Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 4(2), 18-26.

Chumley-Jones, H. S., Dobbie, A., & Alford, C. L. (2002). Web-based Learning: Sound educational method or hype? A review of the evaluation literature. Academic Medicine, 77(10).

Cowgill, D. (2015). Primary sources in the social studies classroom: Historical inquiry with book backdrops. Social Studies Research and Practice, 10(1), 65-83.

Kachina, O. (2012). Using webquests in the social sciences classroom, Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 5(3), 185-200.

Martorella, P. H., (Ed.). (1997). Interactive technologies and the social studies: Emerging issues and applications. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Noel, M. (2007). Elements of a winning field trip. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 44(1), 42-44.

Ozerbas, M. o., & Erdogan, B. b. (2016). The Effect of the Digital Classroom on Academic Success and Online Technologies Self-Efficacy. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 19(4), 203-212.

Schug, M. C., Todd, R. J., & Berry, R. (1984). Why kids don’t like social studies. Social Education, 48, 382-87.

Created By
Brittany Cantwell


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