Digital tools to engage your students in social studies

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“Hamilton: An American Musicalsaid it best: “Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.”

Never in our generation have we had such rich fodder for social studies instruction. And yet, the year is beginning quite differently than we ever expected. While distance learning is going to be a mind shift for both teachers and students, learning still should remain our focus. Students still can have many of the experiences that they would in a normal social studies classroom.

Maybe you’re looking for ways to engage students with more technology in your classroom. Whatever you’re looking to accomplish, digital learning can provide meaningful inquiry experiences for students to engage in the social sciences, investigate their history, visit that awesome museum and continue to learn more about the world around them. Remember that the Kentucky Academic Standards (KAS) for Social Studies places an equal importance on both the mastery of important social studies concepts and disciplinary practices.

Students should be engaging with the inquiry practices to acquire, refine and extend knowledge and understanding of key social studies concepts within the four disciplinary lenses of civics, economics, geography and history. Inquiry instruction isn’t limited to a physical classroom. Students can question, investigate, use evidence and communicate in whatever mode – in-person or virtual – your instruction now embodies. As long as you are focusing upon your students interacting with questions, tasks and sources, your social studies instruction will thrive and your students will connect to the amazing history happening around them!

As we move into the fall, many districts are choosing to begin their year virtually. The interactive document, NTI Resources to Support Social Studies, is a compilation of resources gathered by the Kentucky Council for the Social Studies to help support digital instruction, whether it be virtual or in person. This document highlights tools that social studies teachers can use to build lessons, take their students on virtual field trips, build in brain breaks for students to decompress and various digital learning tools. Resources are listed by grade span, then alphabetical order to provide access to information.

For more information, visit the Kentucky Council for the Social Studies website or email them at kysscouncil@gmail.com.

The Kentucky Council for the Social Studies (KCSS) serves as the primary voice for social studies education in Kentucky. Our membership exists to inform, educate and advocate on behalf of not only social studies educators at all levels (elementary, middle, high and post-secondary), but also of students throughout the Commonwealth. Our goal is to foster a collaborative community through which we will provide a wide array of services to members throughout the state. KCSS is an affiliate member of the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). Visit or join at www.kysscouncil.org.

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