Social studies is critical to students’ lives beyond the classroom--educators should use every possible tool to engage students in this critical discipline

5 digital tools to enhance your social studies instruction


Social studies is critical to students’ lives beyond the classroom--educators should use every possible tool to engage students in this critical discipline

Over the span of my 22-year career as South Carolina public school educator, I’ve taught in self-contained classrooms and I’ve been in departmentalized settings.  Although I love teaching all subjects, I always choose English/language arts and social studies, in part because I love the challenge of engaging young leaners in these important subjects.

As a fourth-grade English/language arts and social studies teacher in an elementary collaborative learning magnet program–which is also a NASA Explorer School–I get the challenge of unlocking the minds of 9- and 10-year-olds who are more at home in the STEM subjects than in exploring literature or our country’s history.

In my quest to engage my students in social studies, I’ve found that, after a few rounds of trial and error, the social studies textbooks belong on the shelf. Instead, I’ve turned to a host of exciting digital resources that would engage the students and connect their lessons to the “real world”, enhance my delivery of instruction, and expand students’ knowledge of our country’s history.

However, the digital resources are not enough—they need to be applied within the context of effective, classroom-tested strategies. Among the most effective strategies I’ve used are the following:

Direct Instruction – Game Show Style…Quizizz!

Platforms such as Google and Microsoft provide variations of this digital tool known as a slideshow. Slideshows allow you to embed text, images, video clips, and animation all in one place to make the flow of your lesson seamless. Using this digital tool is a great way to deliver an engaging social studies lesson. However, if you want to take your slideshow to another level, you must try Quizizz!  Quizizz allows you to take an ordinary slide show and turn it into an interactive lesson/game. Not only does Quizizz make learning history fun, but it also helps you to stay focused and manage your instructional time.

Preparing a Quizizz lesson is super easy! You simply upload a slideshow or create one from scratch, then add questions, video clips, or polls to keep students engaged.  With lessons in Quizizz, you check for understanding using a variety of question types such as multiple choice, reorder, match, fill-in-blanks, open ended, video response, and audio response.  

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