We teach science and social studies together to help children learn about themselves and about the world. We use a systematic process of inquiry. This helps students build both content knowledge and information literacy skills such as formulating questions and finding and evaluating resources that they can apply to learning in any context.
To begin, children engage in active learning experiences designed to familiarize them with a concept or curriculum area. The experiences might include field trips, conversations with visiting experts or explorations of primary source documents.
Building on the experiences, students form questions and explore ideas to deepen their understanding. They generate individual and group questions. They gather information and data through direct observation using their senses and through reading informational texts. They conduct research and experiments to answer their questions.
Throughout the investigation, teachers provide multiple opportunities for students to make sense of their findings and experiences by offering them a variety of ways to represent their knowledge. These forms of “sense-making” might include creating a drawing, painting, dance, song, play, three-dimensional model, computer-generated graphic, written report or slide presentation.
Students may share their knowledge and understandings through longterm projects. They may also consider how they can address issues that have arisen during the course of study through social action. Students make sense of their learning by representing their understanding of concepts and ideas using various forms of creative expression. Providing multiple modalities gives students more entry points to immerse themselves in the inquiry process.
The visual and performing arts, primary sources and technology play a vital role in the process. During the investigation, teachers provide students with recordings, images and journals to spark interest or support student research.
Exploring the arts and technology in context and creating a final project and disseminating it provide fresh, imaginative ways for students to summarize, communicate and take action.