DSSEP Home Page How can the Internet be utilized to acquire instructional materials and resources that can improve social studies instruction?
Orval Foraker
DelaWISE – Project Manager
Delaware Department of Education

According to the needs assessment conducted by the Delaware Social Studies Education Project during the 1999-2000 school year, two-thirds of the teachers indicated that they needed “improved access to current instructional materials and resources that meet the state standards.”  One tool available to most teachers to find standards based resources is the Internet. The purpose of this article is to provide teachers some of my ideas on how the Internet can be used to locate resources specifically aligned to the state social studies standards.  

Experience has led me to the conclusion that taking the time to be specific about what you are searching for before you begin using the Internet can significantly improve your chances of knowing whether you will or will not find what you are seeking.  Most people begin with search engines of various types when they are seeking some specific information.  Considering that the Internet can provide you various means of searching for information, it is critical to take the time to determine which means of searching would be the most effective. 

Let’s begin with a few focusing questions:


·        What is the content target?  

·        Am I seeking general resources on the content target, or do I want to find a specific lesson, unit, or web quest?  

To find a general resource related to a content target you could use several resources that provide various levels of specificity when you do your search.  For example, you could use a Meta Search Engine that searches several other search engines for you.  My favorite is http://www.go2net.com/. Or you could go to a site where a teacher has organized a list of resources for you under course titles.  One example would be Abby’s Site http://www.alltel.net/~abbysresources/socialstudies.htm.  Another general resource would be to go to a generic resource archive such as http://www.bigchalk.com that allows you to search by grade clusters and content.  

There are several states including Delaware that are attempting to create lesson plan databases, sample assessment item banks, and resources for teachers directly aligned to their respective state standards.  These sites such as http://www.glc.k12.ga.us/ will be very useful as they identify more and more resources specifically targeted to content standards by grade.  

To find a specific lesson or unit on a specific content target, you will need to make sure that you start with an Internet site that is set up to do this for you. For example, let’s say I want to find a lesson on supply and demand that supports the teaching of Delaware’s grade 5 end of cluster expectation for the microeconomics standard.  This end of grade cluster expectation states: “By the completion of grade 5, students will be able to understand that prices in a market economy are determined by the interaction of supply and demand, with governments intervening to deal with market failures.” An excellent starting point would be http://www.economicsamerica.org:/ or http://www.econedlink.org/.  In this case the second site has a lesson on supply and demand for fifth grade at  http://www.econedlink.org/lessons/index.cfm?lesson=EM13&page=teacher.   

To determine if a web quest has been created for a specific standard, knowledge of sites that list web quests is required.  With this information you can review the sites and then know if any of the web quests would support your instruction of a specific standard.  A couple of places to look would be http://edweb.sdsu.edu/webquest/matrix.html, or http://www.kiko.com/wqst/showcase.jsp.  When searching through web quests you will soon see that they are usually problem-based and research- oriented.  They often require the students to interact with web pages to support the learning of specific content targets. 

What should you do if you tried the strategies mentioned in this article and you still haven’t been able to locate the information you are seeking?  I would suggest that you email me at oforaker@state.de.us.  I have been collecting resources from the web for the past five years.  I would be glad to share these resources with you.    

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