Reading Reflection: Zarrillo, Chapter 1


Zarrillo gives a basic overview of what social studies is and what it consists of in chapter one. He recognizes that in order to understand what social studies is today, we need to understand the history of social studies and how it has progressed and evolved into what it is today. From there he discusses the role and importance of standards, explaining that, as teachers, we will be responsible to teach according to our own state’s standards. Zarrillo then moves on to discuss curriculum and that it’s made up of content, processes, and values. Each of these facets gives social studies a new perspective and allows both the teacher and the student to dig deeper into the issues surrounding social studies.

Helpful Ideas and Examples

  • Concepts, Generalizations, and Facts (pg. 17, bottom half of the page): describes the differences between concepts, generalizations, and facts and the importance of teaching each is in social studies.
  • Scope and Sequence (pg. 15, bottom half of the page): This was especially helpful – knowing that I, as the teacher, will need to determine this helps me wrap my brain around my responsibilities a lot easier.

Thoughtful and Authentic Question

If I’m given a specific textbook, but I’m not satisfied with the content or material within the text, what is a good resource to use that still differentiates between the concepts, generalizations, and the facts?


I had assumed Social Studies involved studying primarily history, economics, and government. After reading this introduction to social studies, my view of it has broadened quite a bit, and it’s almost overwhelming. How will I know what I need to teach? How will I know what my students need to know?

Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods


Class Notes

Please follow along in this document; completing the sections as you go. If you could, use a different color font or italicize your answers so that they are easily distinguishable.


  • I Used To Think
    • Read the first two paragraphs
    • Then read section 2
      • For each paragraph in section 2, pick out three words that are in the paragraph that best summarize or encapsulate what is being said in that paragraph. Write each of these sets of three here:
        • Believe, attitudes, practices
        • Past, re-label, beliefs
        • Observers, judging, practice
        • Transform, testing, observing
        • Beliefs, experience, practice
      • Look at all the words you’ve selected and look at the section as a whole. Now pick out three words that you think best summarize or encapsulate the whole section. Write them here: Beliefs, Experiences, Practices
      • Compose a sentence using those three words that best summarizes the point the author is making. Write that sentence here: Our beliefs, as educators are ingrained in our experiences and show through our practices.
      • Do you agree with the authors premise? Answer here: I do agree with the author’s premise. Each person views the world through a lens, often called a worldview, or more specifically in the education community, preconceptions. These preconceptions aren’t always correct, but they are influenced by our experiences and they determine our practices. Changing what we practice can be difficult because it targets our preconceptions and challenges our trust.
      • Reading Strategy: 3 word combo – This strategy is great to use in order to help students learn summarizing strategies. The activity can be extended by having students share the words for each paragraph with partners and discuss why they picked the word they picked when they differ from the words their partner picked.
        • Can you see yourself using this strategy in your classroom? Why or why not? Answer here: Absolutely! When it comes to Social Studies, the text that students will be reading is often extremely dense. I remember having my grade school teachers ask me to summarize paragraphs and sections of my textbook and I was lost – I had no idea how to boil down the information to its most basic idea. This strategy helped me to understand how to make summarizing easier and more effective for my future students.
  • A Look Back… If we agree with the author’s premise then we need to take a look at where we come from and what factors have shaped our view and perspective of education.
    • Purpose of Education
      • Why were you told you needed an education? What were the reasons given that you should learn social studies?
        • I was told I needed an education to be able to make a difference and to be able to serve God to the best of my abilities. My parents have always expected me to do my best in school, whether that’s grade school, high school, or now college. They wanted me to be equipped in the best way possible to live a life for the Lord.
        • The biggest reason that stands out in my mind for studying social studies is so that we don’t repeat the past.
    • Nature of the Learner
      • How were you viewed as a student?
        • I was always a good student, but never the best in my class. I grew up going to a small school all through grade school and high school. Grade school, I was about a C – B average. Through high school, I was a B – A student. Now in college, I am an A student with an occasional A- or B. My parents never demanded fantastic grades from me; they always insisted that I do my best, and if that means a C, then they’ll support me in it, if that means an A, then they’ll support me in that as well. But if I know that I’m an A student and get a C, then I know I can do better.
    • Person and Offices of the Teacher
      • Why were some teachers meaningful? Why not?
        • My favorite teachers were not the people who fed me detail after detail and expected me to memorize it all and regurgitate it for a test (I’ve had plenty of those!). My favorite teachers were the people who tied concepts together and found a way to help me apply it.
    • Learning Process
      • What were the common instructional methods you experienced in school; particularly in social studies classes?
        • Through middle school and as a lower classman, I had the same history teacher. She lectured off a PowerPoint, expected us to take notes, had us turn in weekly assignments based on chapter questions, and then gave us tests on the information. These tests were the same format every time: multiple choice/true and false for the terms; short answer based on the questions we answered from the chapters; and essay questions based on the chapter review we were supposed to turn in. I don’t remember anything from these classes.
        • My favorite Social Studies teacher taught 20th Century/Post-Modern History my senior year of high school. Similarly to my middle school and high school social studies teacher, he lectured, but he presented the information in a completely different way. He didn’t use a textbook, and he was very careful to tie the concepts together. Then, rather than requiring us to memorize details for a test, he asked us about main concepts we might have discussed and we came up with questions in class about those concepts, of which we would then have to write an essay about for the test. He always told us that he didn’t want us to regurgitate information, but he wanted us to show off what we knew – if there was a concept that we understood, but couldn’t remember the term, he told us to describe and explain it to him, and then based on that, he knew that we understood the concepts he wanted us to understand. Not only did he connect concepts for us, but he taught us how to connect concepts and how to make sense of history.
    • Conceptualization of the Subject Matter
      • Were the subject matters compartmentalized? For example did you only ever talk about math in math class? Or did subjects get referred to in other areas of school?
        • Overall, subject matters were compartmentalized, at least as far as I can remember. But I’m sure there was a little bit of overlap. Science and Math were integrated quite often, but that’s only practical since so much of science is calculations.
      • Were the things you were taught in school useful and relevant to life? What about social studies specifically?
        • To be completely honest, I can’t think of anything right now that directly applies to my life, but I’m sure there are subtle things that I learned that I still use today. As far as Social Studies is concerned, the thing that taught me the most was participating in an organization called “Michigan Youth in Government” from sophomore year to senior year.
      • Was Sacred/Secular dichotomized? In other words did faith and the Bible infiltrate all areas of school or was it saved for Bible class? What about social studies – was the Bible an add-on or was it integral?
        • I went to a Christian school, so for the most part, faith and the Bible was integrated into most of my classes. Bible was definitely a part of my social studies classes.
      • Use of knowledge – did you do things with new knowledge or did you just intellectually work with it, master it and move on?
        • I’m not exactly sure how to answer this question in relation to my education. I want to say I mainly intellectually worked with learned concepts and ideas and moved on rather than doing anything with it. But I guess I’m not sure what you mean when you ask if I did anything with it – are you referring to something like project based learning in which students directly apply what they have learned through their work in a community, or are you talking about doing an end of the unit project to show what we had learned?
      • Teaching Redemptively – Donovan Graham
  • Getting to Know – I’d like to get to know you as a learner.
    • Learner/Teacher – Please take the following tests and read the accompanying information.
    • Please answer or speak to the following points in a two paragraph answer.
      • Analysis of the results of your diagnostic tests (please refer to the specific results as well as an analysis of the results)
      • What did you find out about you as a learner?
      • What are the implications?
      • Include anything else you might think is important for me to know about you.
      • Write your two paragraphs here:

My basic “classifications” are as follows: In regards to Learning Styles, I am a close tie between Visual and Kinesthetic; when it comes to understanding a theory or idea, I need to see and understand the “whole picture” before I feel like I have a good grasp on what I’m learning (Holistic/Global). This is especially true when it comes to sitting through lectures – If I don’t have a clear picture about the main idea or at least an outline about what’s happening and when, I am much slower at processing the information. The big picture provides me with places to “file” away information (as opposed to those who need all of the details before the big picture makes sense). When it comes to understanding how the theories and ideas are applied, I am a hands-on learner all the way. For example, in many of the methods classes that I’ve taken so far, I come away with more if I have the opportunity to practice a specific theory or method described multiple times. If I’m simply told the theory and not given the chance to practice it, it’s unlikely that I will remember it (I wish that weren’t the case).

As far as introversion and extroversion, I am neither extreme, but based on the assessment questionnaire; I am closer to introversion than extroversion (total for [a] responses: 11, total for [b] responses: 19). The idea of being a social butterfly all of the time scares me beyond belief. When it comes to accomplishing work, I see the value in doing group work and there are times when it can be extremely beneficial, but more often than not, I would prefer to work on my own. BUT after I have completed my work, specific feedback from others is extremely important to me. In regards to specifics, I am more of an introvert when it comes to problem solving, interpersonal interaction, and concentration and focus. My natural strengths seem to align with those of an introvert, as do my natural weaknesses (although there is a little bit of crossover within the weaknesses). I am more extroverted when it comes to decision-making, and I’m evenly balanced in the communication department.

Overall, I am more of an active learner than a reflective learner. I am more of an intuitive learner than a sensing learner (although it’s pretty close between those two). I am more of a visual learner than a verbal learner. And finally, probably the most important distinction for me is that I am more of a global learner than a sequential learner.

  • Could you please write 1 paragraph by completing this sentence: I would consider this course worth my time if ….
    • I would consider this course worth my time if I can come away with a basic understanding of the different facets involved with teaching Social Studies and if I can have time to practice teaching these different facets.


Go Back: Extra Reading: Social Studies Methods


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