Making room for social studies, through read aloud
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Through this report, I offer a solution for a problematic gap that I observed in my school’s curriculum: the absence of social studies. Grounding my understanding of the nature of this problem in the school’s mission, I argue that based on research, this absence could actually interfere with our goal of inspiring children to create positive change in their communities in the future. I present data showing the effectiveness of read aloud as a pedagogical practice, and then I show the way in which structuring read aloud around meaningful social issues would actually make it more effective pedagogically over the course of the year. Finally, I outline the structure, materials, and lines of inquiry that teachers might use in a fourth grade context in order to incorporate a multicultural social studies curriculum through the read aloud time which we are allotted two to four times per week. Drawing on frameworks of multicultural education (Banks, 2004) and culturally-relevant instruction (Ladson-Billings, 1994), I demonstrate how the curriculum outlined fulfills the purposes desired. I hope that the adoption of this curriculum at my own school will enable the fourth grade’s continued improvement in our mission to prepare our students to be thoughtful, participatory citizens in their communities, and that this project might serve to spark similar ideas in other contexts.