Word Generation Social Studies Units

Now more than ever, students need an education in civics.  Civics is central to the TASC Social Studies, but there are more urgent reasons to teach students about this American democracy.  Students need help in voting for their own interests and navigating the confusing new fact of political reporting.  As adult education teachers, we may feel that we have to choose between dry, simplistic textbook excerpts and newspaper articles that assume readers have extensive knowledge of U.S. politics.   Textbook excerpts often tell only a small part of the story—the part that glorifies U.S. history and the workings of its governments.  We all know the reality is less straightforward and positive.  How can we convey the basics while also inviting students to enter into the complex political life of our country, which includes the good, the bad and the ugly?

Enter Word Generation.  These teaching units were designed by educators at SERP for ELL middle school students, but are also perfect for the adult education classroom.  There are six units in the “Complex Questions Related to American Democracy” series, which focus on hard questions about the U.S. government and history.  “What are Governments Good for?” invites students to consider the balance between freedom and order in three governments: Singapore, London, and New York City.  “What is the Value of Your Citizenship?” invites students into the debate about immigrants.  “When is a Crime not a Crime?” is a case study of a convicted felon who achieved later success.  “Where is the Justice in our Justice System?” engages students in considering the issues around mass incarceration.  Finally “How do we Right the Wrongs of the Past?” engages students in considering cases of social injustice that include redlining, apartheid in South Africa, and the Native American genocide.

Why are these units so ideal for adult classrooms?

Engaging—the questions raised are deep, and framed in a way that encourages students to develop as critical thinkers.
Interdisciplinary-each unit engages includes a math, science, and language arts thread.
Vocabulary acquisition—Each unit centers around a set of words that are repeated in every text in bold.  Students learn the words through multiple exposures.
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About Kate Brandt

Kate Brandt is a Professional Developer in the adult literacy field in New York City and she loves her job. She loves her job so much that she commutes 2 hours per day, from her suburban home in Shrub Oak, New York, to get to work. She loves working in adult literacy because she gets to work with people who are smart, kind, and dedicated.

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