The American Journey
Michele C. Bennett
Grand Canyon University: EED 465
January 22, 2011
Textbook Analysis: The American Journey
Before using a social studies textbook, a deep analysis of its contents will be required. How the book covers the topics in comparison to the definition of, social studies bring forth the relevance of the book in effective planning and instruction. Whether or not the book conveys separate classroom activities for class participation and a chance to form a deeper understanding of the lesson is desirable. Furthermore, the book should integrate other subjects such as writing to incorporate a deeper interest in social studies. The textbook needs to include methods of assessing the students learning both formally and accurately in each chapter. A quality social studies textbook requires some photos with captions, charts or graphic organizers, vocabulary listings, review questions and some strategies for better reading comprehension of the material in the social studies textbook. Let us begin by looking at the definition of social studies.
Social studies defined by Merriam-Webster as: a part of a school or college curriculum concerned with the study of social relationships and the functioning of a society and usually made up of courses in history, government, economics, civics, sociology, geography, and anthropology (Merriam-Webster, 2011). According to the above definition of social studies, The American Journey by Joyce Appleby, Ph.D., Alan Brinkley, and James M. McPherson, Ph.D. covers all seven content areas in the social studies definition. These subjects listed as themes to teach students how to study history in the social studies textbook. The themes in the book are Culture and Traditions, Continuity and Change, Geography and History, Individual Action, Groups and Institutions, Government and Democracy, Science and Technology, Economic factors, Global Connections, and Civil Rights and Responsibilities (Appleby, Brinkley, McPherson, 2005, p. xxiv).
In a social studies classroom, simply reading a textbook and answering some questions at the end of the chapters lacks the effort to reach effective instructional goals for the lessons in the curriculum. In effective planning and instruction, activities are required for developing a deeper understanding of the social studies lesson. Each chapter begins with activities such as History online, which provides chapter overviews that teachers can assign to students before looking at the next chapter. The chapter incorporates such activities as geography skills where they provide an illustration and present students with some questions. At the end of each heading and subheading of paragraphs, a reading check requires students to think deeper (e.g. describing, summarizing, identifying, explaining, making generalizations) (Appleby, Brinkley, and McPherson, 2005, Unit 1, Ch. 1, sec. 1) about the chapter readings. Some Chapters end with information such as social studies skillbuilder like on page 27 where the students directed to understand the parts of a map. ‘Children at all grade levels can write a report (with you individualizing skills instruction at the level of each), do hands-on geometry or measurement activities, make a model, prepare an explanation, participate in the same field trips, interviews, observations, books read aloud, and discussions related to the theme topic. Some of the assignments can be family projects with each child doing a piece to contribute to the whole. This type of academic interaction is a key benefit to many families, adding to enjoyment of learning, closeness, and appreciation for one another’s gifts and talents’ (Teaching Children, 1997).
The integration of different subjects in with social studies exists in this textbook. Examples of such integrations include the section, People in History, where the students read about how an individual...