Social studies is not one of those school subjects that automatically generates ideas of educational technology. After all, for years it was about civic projects, maps, governments and other elements that could prove to be a little bit less stimulating for some students and even their teachers. Fortunately, that is changing.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) and the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) have developed the 21st Century Skills and Social Studies Map. These free online maps document various social studies projects, tasks and outcomes to corresponding skills. Such capabilities allow teachers to implement concrete examples of how 21st century skills can easily be integrated into the classroom at different grade levels, while also demonstrating the critical connections between these skills and social studies.
The map delivers guidance on how to align teaching and learning to the demands of the 21st century through lesson examples that combine core skills such as critical thinking, creativity, and innovation with interdisciplinary themes. Using educational technology, the map also cites specific student opportunities and provides project models to enhance student achievement. "I am confident we have developed an invaluable resource for social studies teachers and educators in general as we move toward a 21st-century education system," said Michael Yell, NCSS president. "This map represents the intersection of 21st-century skills and the social studies and provides an exciting tool for teachers and students."
As teachers work to implement educational technology in the classroom setting, the skills map offers a number of tools that will support each activity. These tools include such things as Internet access, graphics software, interactive online sites, social networking sites, video conferencing and Web publishing software. In utilizing these tools, students understand how these core skills and interdisciplinary themes are taught.
One P21 vice president, Valerie Greenhill, leads strategic content work. She highlighted that the organization is often asked what the integration of 21st century skills should look like in the classroom, as well as how these skills should be taught. Greenhill noted that the map aims to answer these questions, making it easy to integrate educational technology in every learning environment. The organization offers a number of core subject maps to ensure 21st century skills are incorporated through the curriculum. "For us, that is the promise of these maps – that it makes these skills understandable and achievable by practitioners, and it also paints a picture for policy makers to understand that these skills have a natural fit in the core subjects," Greenhill said .
According to P21, the 21st Century Skills and Social Studies Map is the first in the serious of planned core content maps. Designed and targeted to educators, administrators and policy makers, these maps help to integrate educational technology in the classroom. Other maps are slated for mathematics, English, geography and science through 2008 and 2009.