Methods of Instruction

MTE 531 - Presented by Elin, Joi, Kelly, Sarah, and Terri

Methods of Instruction and Social Studies

Teachers must know their students, their background, family history, culture, academic progress, attitudes, interests, abilities and more. A teacher must understand and be able to incorporate a variety of instructional strategies and student activities within the classroom to meet the needs of a variety of learners. Students learn through many modalities and it is the teacher job to ensure that learning is interactive, varied, developmentally appropriate and meaningful to the students. The following methods of instruction may be used in the classroom to effectively teach Social Studies to a variety of learners: curriculum mapping, differentiated instruction, inquiry-based learning, cooperative learning, and independent or student-directed learning.

Curriculum Mapping

Curriculum mapping is a database that is used by teachers to enter real time information about what is happening in the classroom and what they want to happen in the classroom. Some areas to include in the curriculum map are content, skills, assessment method, standards and actual progress. The curriculum mapping process is a collaborative process, never stagnant as the learning process is always changing (Hale, 2014). The curriculum map can be used school wide, district wide or even state wide as an interactive authentic method to collect data of the progress of students. Curriculum maps provide the “what” of learning, details the data in real time and can be recorded on a monthly or grade period basis by teachers (Hale, 2014).

Types of curriculum maps include: Individual school site level: Diary Map or Projected Map, Collaborative school site level: Consensus Map or Core Map, Master Map or Benchmark Map, District level: Essential Map (Hale, 2014).

The benefits of using the curriculum mapping method include the three C’s of Curriculum Mapping Focus: Communication, Curricular Dialogue and Coherency.

  • Communication: most curriculum maps are internet based and are a collaborative force supported by technology providing teachers and administrators easy access to planned and goal related data (Hale, 2014).

  • Curricular Dialogue: allow teacher time to develop the cognitive processing time to learn something new, to engage in dialogue regarding grade level integration, cross disciplinary curricula and instructional practices (Hale, 2014). Curriculum mapping provides the forum for development and implementation of student-centered developmentally appropriate teaching strategies that align with established standards.

  • Coherency: the main goal of curriculum mapping is to get teachers past the “treadmill teaching” in which they run round and round drilling grade-level and content-area topics (Hale, 2014). Coherency in curriculum mapping occurs when teachers are able to look past the day to day tasks and personally document, evaluate, and plan according to the actual evidence based results of actual student learning progress (Hale, 2014). Curriculum Mapping calls for teachers to record, reflect on, study and revise their individual and corporate work in direct relation to standards and most importantly student progress (Hale, 2014).

Teachers that effectively use curriculum mapping in the classroom exhibit the ability to organize, record data, review data, and make appropriate adjustments and accommodations in planning lessons and implementation strategies according to student progress and learning. Whether the curriculum mapping is school or district wide the teacher is able to routinely evaluate student progress and make appropriate accommodations to ensure student success in all areas of learning.

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated instruction is a great learning strategy to implement into Social Studies. There are so many topics in social studies that can be used to engage the students into higher level thinking, seeing cause and effect, developing their own opinions on certain topics and comparing and contrasting given topics.

Differentiating instruction is the ability to work with students at all different learning levels who have different learning interest, while working with the same information and learning content ("Social Studies Differentiated Instruction", n.d.).

There are 3 main techniques on how to implement differentiated instruction in Social Studies:

1. Leveling: is grouping students based on their "level" of learning. By grouping students based on their level, it then allows teachers develop appropriate activities and rigor for each student's learning needs ("Social Studies Differentiated Instruction", n.d.).

2. Learning Styles/Multiple Intelligence- this form of differentiated instruction allows the teacher to focus on the learning style of each student and how to create a lesson based on their learning style to create interest in the learning content. There are three multiple intelligence:
1. Visual
2. Auditory
3. Kinesthetic
Establishing which learning style each of the students have allows a teacher to notice what they are intelligent in and can use it to get the students engaged in the learning content and develop interest in the topic ("Social Studies Differentiated Instruction", n.d.).

3. Enrichment and Remediation- This learning strategy can help teachers establish enriched lessons for those students who are advanced in their learning and can retain the learning content being taught. It is recommended to enrich the lesson by actively getting the students to use higher level and critical thinking skills to challenge them.

Remediation is used for the students that have not retained the learning content that is being taught. In situations such as this the teacher should give "wait" time, extra time to complete the task, extra practice and reviewing the learning content ("Social Studies Differentiated Instruction", n.d.).

Finally, by differentiating instruction teachers can create different worksheets, power point lessons and activities that are enriched and basic to meet the needs of each student. By using enriched and basic learning, one can implement the multiple intelligence to create a lesson that involves the learning styles that demonstrates the student's strength.

Video on Differentiated Instruction

This video is an example of how to use technology to differentiate instruction while using the multiple intelligence of visual learning.

Inquiry-based Learning

Social Studies explore culture and how people behave in society. Associating inquiry-based learning in this type of class is useful because this type of learning requires evidence based content. Inquiry-based learning is a complex process where students attempt to convert information into useful knowledge through a structure of identifying “real” questions, finding resources to gather information in answering the “real” question, interpreting the information and reporting the findings (Chard 2004).

What Does This Look Like in a Social Studies Classroom?

  • Helps students identify and refine “real” questions into learning projects;
  • Provides students with opportunities to learn with more freedom while reinforcing basic skills
  • Provides students with opportunities to utilize more varied learning styles;
  • Incorporates interdisciplinary study
  • Is suited for a collaborative learning environment or team projects;
  • Works with any age group and as students get older, more sophisticated questioning and research skills are developed


Applying inquiry based learning gives the student control over their own learning, and concepts become meaningful. For example when given a Social Studies lesson about Ancient Egypt implementing activities such as a Gallery walk, or world Café allows students to guide their own learning. In both activities information is given to the students from their peers and participants can question misunderstanding of information, and be supported by both peers and teacher.



“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

- Benjamin Frankilin

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning should go beyond the pairing and grouping of students. Interactions between scholars should be purposeful, meaningful and thought provoking. With the use of cooperative learning strategies teachers will maximize the potential for critical thinking. Three types of cooperative learning to examine are Facts or Fibs, Send-a-Problem and Roundtable.

Facts or Fibs

In this cooperative learning technique, students are put into groups and given a scenario regarding a current lesson. Each student as an individual writes their thoughts on rather or not the scenario is fact or fib, and they must justify their opinion. Once each student has their answer they go to their groups to discuss and justify their answers. Once the group has decided on the appropriate answer and supporting justification, they will present their answer to the class (The Routty Math Teacher, 2015). Once the information has been presented to the class other groups can agree with or challenge the answer based on their justifications.


For this technique, the cooperative learning will take place on paper. The teacher will hand out a worksheet with social studies specific questions. Each group will get one worksheet. The first student will answer the first question; the second student will read through the first answer and add to it or make corrections then answer the second question (Srinivas, n.d.). Each student will read, add and make necessary corrections to previous answers and then answer their assigned question. The worksheet will continue to go around the table until each student has had a chance to review every answer. Once this has happened then, the worksheet can be turned in.


This cooperative learning technique is similar to the above, but the main difference here is the purpose being to acquire as many correct answers as possible. The teacher will ask or pass out a paper with one question on it for each group. One student at a time will either answer, write or choose to pass their turn (Srinivas, n.d.). Once each student has had the opportunity to answer as a group, they will decide on which answers are correct and then present those to the class. Then additional conversation may occur if more answers are possible or if the answers given are not accurate.

Technological Resource is a free webpage designed to support and encourage online collaboration. Students can use this webpage to share ideas, have conversations, and build pages for assignments and categories their thoughts. This is a free service for anyone. There is even a place where students can build their "Wridea” webpage to match the unique needs for their assignments (“Idea management service”…, 2015).

This is only a small example of the possibilities of cooperative learning techniques. See the attached photo below for more ideas but surely not the only ideas available.

Independent or Student Directed Learning

Self-directed, or independent, learning allows students to take control of their learning. Self-directed learning occurs in home-schooling, experiential education, open schooling, and life-long learning. In the classroom self-directed learning gives students the opportunity to learn independently. Students use self-directed learning in the classroom when they read independently and work on assignments on their own. Self- directed learning is most observable when students work in groups on a project, assign their own parts and work to bring the whole thing together (Gibbons). When students are given the opportunity to take initiative they gain self-confidence and feel more ownership of their work. Teachers overlook the choices student make, give them some pointers, but ultimately the decisions about how to complete the project is left to students. This technique builds stronger individuals that can make decisions and feel empowered by their work. which are great advantages of self-directed learning. Some disadvantages include procrastination, lack of motivation and time management (Classroomaid).

Self-directed learning is a process. There are four stages to in The Self-Directed Learning Model: (see image "Self-directed Learning Model)

The teachers role changes in each stage as well, being a little less involved in decision making as the student gets closer to self-directed.

Some tools that encourage and will assist students in self-directed learning are electronics like computers where students can research information and watch videos pertaining to their assignments. Another would be a classroom of opportunities for students to decide what strategies will help them learn. For example, the classroom can have different learning centers. The classroom can have a library where students can check out books to find information they need. A different center can focus on crafts where students can create charts and posters needed for their learning.


Chard, Sylvia. "An Introduction to Inquiry-Based Learning." The YouthLearn Initiative. 30 June 2004. (Available online:

Classroomaid (2013). Self-directed Learning Well Explained. Retrieved from

Cooperative learning strategies. (n.d.). Retrieved December 15, 2015, from

Gibbons, M., (2014). The Major Principles of an SDL Program. Retrieved from

Hale, J. (2014). Curriculum mapping 101. Retrieved from

Idea management service and collection of brainstorming tools. (2015). Retrieved December 15, 2015, from

Social Studies Differentiated Instruction. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Srinivas, H. (n.d.). Collaborative Learning Structures and Techniques. Retrieved December 15, 2015, from

The Routty Math Teacher. (2015). Retrieved December 15, 2015, from