Technology has transformed our world. It has allowed us to be more connected, and it has given us access to incredible amounts of information. These two developments alone have made social studies and history education more important than ever. Not only do they provide students with the foundational knowledge and skills they need in order to make important civic decisions, they also inform the diverse human interactions that they make every day. Perhaps most importantly, social studies and history empower students to become informed citizens in a democracy—guiding their actions and votes when they go to the ballot box on election day.
In recent years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the influence of social media, online news sources, and digital information, in general. This has changed the study of media literacy from an important topic into an essential, foundational literacy skill. Increasingly, online sources are sharing misinformation and disinformation that, on the surface, look and sound authentic. This is both disappointing and dangerous. It is critical that our students have foundational knowledge in social studies and history, and they must also be able to process and evaluate that information with the critical thinking skills of evaluating content, vetting sources, and filtering out information meant to sway and shape their opinions.
The content in this collection will provide you with strategies and resources for the effective integration of technology into social studies and history.
The Four Dimensions of the C3 Framework
Because content standards vary from state to state, we’ve chosen to frame the content in this collection around national standards, including those outlined by the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), as well as elements of the Common Core curriculum. Specifically, content is organized around the C3 Framework. This framework outlines the skills necessary to prepare students for college, career, and civic life. Although social studies does not have its own Common Core Standards, its content is woven throughout elements of the English Language Arts (ELA) Common Core Standards, providing an integrated approach to ELA, social studies, and history.
There are four dimensions included in the C3 Framework. For each dimension, we’ll offer relevant skills and content that focus on the effective integration of technology.
- Dimension 1: Developing Questions and Planning Inquiries
- Dimension 2: Applying Disciplinary Concepts and Tools (Civics, Economics, Geography, and History)
- Dimension 3: Evaluating Sources and Using Evidence (Research and Critical Thinking)
- Dimension 4: Communicating Conclusions and Taking Informed Action
As you review the content in these articles, you will undoubtedly find resources that may be applied to multiple dimensions and different content subdivisions of both history and social studies. This is understandable and natural, since none of us live in isolated little boxes. Rather, people are complex; they have numerous interactions with others, and all aspects of life flow together. The fact that each area impacts the others is part of the reason that it’s critical for our students to have a solid foundation and understanding of history and social studies. They need the skills and knowledge to sift through the overwhelming amount of information available to them, and then need to be able to break it all down, analyze it, and make informed decisions.
Supporting Critical Thinking
In order to become discerning citizens and informed consumers of information, students must be critical thinkers. For this reason, social studies has been integrated into the ELA Common Core Standards related to critical thinking. These standards support the ability of students to analyze information, recognize bias and point of view, and be able to use this information to form and support original ideas and perspectives. As you plan for teaching history and social studies, consider how the following four ELA Common Core Standards align to and support your social studies curriculum:
- Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.1
- Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion, or avoidance of particular facts). CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.6
- Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually and quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.7
- Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.8
The skills related to communication are equally important and are once again embedded in the ELA Common Core Standards. Once information is processed, understood, and used in a purposeful way, students frequently use these core skills to communicate their ideas effectively to an audience. This is the part of the process that makes learning actionable for students. They take what they’ve learned and do something with it. Skills needed for this range from the integration of various resources to the coherent organization and communication of that information. Consider how these three ELA standards support this integrated goal:
- Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally). CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.5
- Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7
- Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.9
As you work with your students to become empowered and informed citizens, pull from the resources in this collection, but don’t stop there. This is a small sampling of what is available (often for free) on the Internet. Be sure to search for more resources, network with other professionals, and share what you find. By sharing and being connected, we can all become stronger and more informed educators.
Extend Your Learning
- Classroom Technology: 5 Ways to Teach Social Studies With Digital Resources (Britannica Digital Learning)
- Learning Connections: Tech Integration in Social Studies (ISTE)
- Integrating Technology Into the Classroom (Teachinghistory.org and Stanford University School of Education)
- Combining Social Studies and STEM in a Project-Based Learning Unit (Edutopia)