Making history class interesting and vital to the future of students as citizens is just one reason two teachers are developing new approaches to social studies.
In Egg Harbor Township, NJ, social studies teacher and Atlantic County Teacher of the Year Michael Martirone has partnered with the New Jersey Teacher of the Year Chelsea Collins, a middle school English teacher. Together they are developing a project to promote global education and literacy through social studies.
In Martirone’s Honors World Cultures Class, students have a choice of reading one of two memoirs chosen in consultation with English teacher Lauren Alexander. The books are “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier” by Ishmael Beah, and “The Other Side of the Sky” by Farah Ahmedi with Tamin Ansary.
The stories are set amid present day war zones and tell of survival, escape, and endurance. “I wanted to promote history in a way that makes it come alive,” Martirone said. In the US History II class, students will pick their own books.
According to Martirone, social studies is often considered to be less important than other subjects. There is no required standardized test, and no national campaign as there is for STEM subjects.
“You may never need to do algebra again,” Martirone said. “But if you plan to vote, if you pay taxes, you will use social studies.”