Skip to content

Teaching Social Studies in Elementary Schools: A Social Constructivist Approach, 1st Edition

By Susan E. Gibson
Instructional Resources
Digital teaching aids may be available for this title. All instructor requests are reviewed by our team before the files are made accessible.
Soft Cover
352 pages
ISBN-10: 0176104380
ISBN-13: 9780176104382
Publisher: Top Hat
Edition: 1st

In this new text for the Education market, Susan Gibson uses a constructivist framework to guide teacher candidates learning how to teach Social Studies at the elementary level. The basis premise of constructivism is students learn by fitting new information together with what they already know, and students active engagement. Constructivism is the opposite of a didactic approach to teaching, wherein teachers lecture and students receive information sitting passively at their desks. Our author believes that teachers’ beliefs about how students learn and the role the teacher plays in that learning affects their decision making across all aspects of planning, instruction, resource selection and reflective exercises.


  • To encourage active engagement and practical application there will be an abundance of examples and activities including teaching strategies, resource suggestions and assessment tools. Practical information about projects, role playing, and art integration answer the question "how does this look in the classroom?" Wright does a bit of this but our reviewers indicate that he doesn't do nearly enough. This issue came up over and over during interviews in this discipline.
  • Reflective thinking activities intended to activate prior knowledge, examine and rethink that knowledge in light of the new information being presented, and to apply that new knowledge for each of the areas addressed in the book. These exercises absolutely reinforce the constructivist framework. "Constructivism in Action"
  • Themes of social studies are "hot" in the field. Our text will integrate these themes across the text: Multicultural Education, Global Education, Human Rights/Peace Education, and Character and Values.
  • Focus on computer and internet technologies and resources plus a stronger focus on media literacy issues and current events. This has been identified as a deficiency in Wright and our author's current research specialty is in the area of technology in elementary social studies.
  • Two colour design. The advantage of a more cosmetically appealing or engaging design cannot be underestimated. The current texts are dated and dull in appearance. A modern and appealing design will promote the currency of our approach and content.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 Deciding on your goals for your social studies program
  • Chapter 2 Applying a social constructivism framework
  • Part One: Why is social studies taught in elementary schools?
  • Chapter 3 What is social studies all about?
  • Chapter 4 What does citizenship education have to do with elementary social studies?
  • Part Two: How do you select and organize social studies content for teaching?
  • Chapter 5 How can the curriculum shape our thinking about social studies content?
  • Chapter 6 What other factors affect your social studies content choices?
  • Part Three: How do you locate and choose resources to assist in teaching social studies content?
  • Chapter 7 What factors might influence your selection of resources for your social studies program?
  • Chapter 8 Why use childrens literature in social studies?
  • Chapter 9 How can computers technologies be used as social studies resources?
  • Part Four: What activity ideas would help you to meet your goals?
  • Chapter 10 What approach to teaching would best meet your social studies goals?
  • Chapter 11 How can learning activities help to meet your social studies goals?
  • Chapter 12 How can computer technologies help to enhance learning?
  • Part Five: How should childrens learning in social studies be assessed?
  • Chapter 13 What different types of approaches to assessment in social studies are there?
  • Closure
  • Chapter 14 Pulling It all together
  • Epilogue: The Journey Continues?

Author Information

Susan E. Gibson

Susan Gibson came highly recommended by Carol Stokes in our School Division where she is a subject area consultant. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Elementary Education at the University of Alberta. She is the coordinator of the Social Studies Teaching Methods course (600-700 students). Her area of specialization is Social Studies curriculum and instruction. Her research areas include: the integration of technology in social studies, using the Internet and the role of technology in teacher education. She has been the University representative on the Alberta Education Social Studies K-12 Advisory Committee and the Provincial Social Studies Council. She has contributed articles to Sears/Wright, Trends and Issues in Canadian Social Studies and Case/Clark, The Canadian Anthology of Social Studies, both of which are competitors in this discipline and a compendium of "whose who" among social studies academics. Sue Gibson did her PhD under Ian Wright at the University of British Columbia. It is interesting to note that David Hutchison at Brock (Reviewer 1) cites the "philosophical and theoretical discussion which frames Wright's book" as its greatest strength and that Sue Gibson wrote that discussion while working for Dr. Wright.