Social Studies and the Arts

One way to engage your students in social studies is to incorporate their own creativity.  The arts can provide a window into culture: a time period or a social movement can come alive.  To give just a few examples from WorldView programs:

  1. Project: Political Cartoons in American History I has students create their own image to illustrate an era
  2. Tutorial: Social Media in U.S. Government in part examines the history of protest songs
  3. Project: Art Appreciation in World History A explains how to examine the elements of a specific style of painting
  4. Art: W.P.A. Poster in Economics examines the role of art patronage (in this case, the federal government)

    Poster designed by J. Hirt
    Poster designed by J. Hirt

There are also good academic reasons to use the arts.  Music, long known to provide a path into mathematics, has recently been shown by neurobiologists to help students process sound and language.  Specifically, it was the action of making music themselves, not just listening to it, that mattered most for reading skills!

Using the arts with social studies is working together to help struggling students in schools in Bridgeport, Connecticut:

With such creative outlets, the teacher says, even children at the lowest level academically can feel successful. And then they’re more motivated when it comes to writing and answering questions – skills many of the students still need to develop.

Their associated skill increases are even more impressive given the resource-poor environment (Connecticut schools are known for their inequality.)  The author is careful to note, however, that “Whether arts integration delivers on its potential generally comes down to leadership and sustained effort.” (The story is from the new “EqualEd” section at The Christian Science Monitor.)

So with all that in mind, here are a few edtech resources for making your own works of art:

  • a list of free and open source music making programs from MusicRadar
  • a similar list for visual artists from EmptyEasel
  • a mix of free and paid software for visual artists
  • some ideas for more concrete (but still low budget) projects

If you know of other apps, let us know in the comments!

BulbgraphOnOffIn a flipped classroom, have students read the overview on their own, then go through the “Questions for Thought” in class as starting points for discussion.

Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at company logo

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Dr. Annelies Kamran is V.P. for Content and Product Development at WorldView Software, Inc.

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