Defining Social Studies

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When defining social studies the best definition comes from the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). Even though “the ‘official’ definition is somewhat misleading because authorities in the field have long debated the dimensions of an appropriate definition of social studies” (Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall, 2013). The NCSS defines social studies as the “study of political, economic, cultural, and environmental aspects of societies” (NCSS, 1988). There may never be a definition of social studies that is accepted unanimously, but this one seems to be accurate.
Social studies textbooks should support the specific states standards. Although the author of this paper resides in New York State the textbook used is Georgia based. This book is for second grade and is Houghton Mifflin Social Studies: Georgia edition. After researching Georgia’s state standards there is a direct correlation between the standards and the textbook. An example is standard SS2H1 “The student will read about and describe the lives of historical figures in Georgia history” (GaDOE, 2013) like James Oglethorpe. In the second lesson of the textbook the students read about James Oglethorpe and Mary Musgrove two settlers who came to Georgia (Viola, 2008). Can a textbook really meet the needs of the students, educators, and the states standards?
Topics Covered
Knowing that the above definition of social studies actually looks at politics, economics, cultures, and the environment of societies, the next step is to see if the textbook follows. Georgia’s state standard SS2CG1 through SS2CG4 covers the politics; SS2E1 through SS2E4 covers economics; and SS2G2 covers the culture. The state standards do not cover the environment side of society. This second...

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...hentic assessment. Educational Technology Research and Development, 52(3), 67-86.
National Council for the Social Studies (1988). Social Studies for Early Childhood and Elementary School Children: Preparing for the 21st Century. Retrieved February 21, 2014, from
Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall (2013). Definitions of Social Studies | Retrieved February 21, 2014, from
Short, D. J. (1994). Expanding middle school horizons: Integrating language, culture, and social studies. TESOL quarterly, 28(3), 581-608.
Vincent, A., & Ross, D. (2001). Learning Style Awareness. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33(5).
Viola, H. J., & Houghton Mifflin Company (2008). Houghton Mifflin social studies. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co.
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