SEED 415-- CLASS SYLLABUS--Fall 2006


Welcome to SEED 415, the most wonderful, the most exciting, and the most interesting methods course mentioned in this particular paragraph!  The broad goal of this course is to help you to become the best social sciences teacher you can be.  By sharing with you what we ourselves have learned about teaching over the years, we hope we can improve your basic teaching skills, reinforce your enthusiasm for the teaching profession, and increase both your love of learning and love for students.


SEED 415. Special Methods in the Social Sciences. Instruction and practice of teaching skills necessary for teaching social sciences effectively at the secondary level. 


This course is designed to help prospective social science teachers meet the standards of Knowledge Base Goal 3, Knowledge of Pedagogy.  It includes instruction and practice in giving lectures, leading discussions, and various other methods of instruction appropriate to the social sciences. In addition, the course addresses the standards and principles of the following:

The Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC)
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS)
National Educational Technology Standards (NETS)

Level one: The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage students' development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills

Level three: The teacher understands principles and techniques, along with advantages and limitations, associated with various instructional strategies (e.g. cooperative learning, direct instruction, discovery learning, whole group discussion, independent study, interdisciplinary instruction)


1.    Teachers are committed to students and their learning.
2.    Teachers know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students.
3.    Teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.
4.    Teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from experience.
5.    Teachers are members of learning communities.


Technology operations and concepts: Teachers demonstrate a sound understanding of technology operations and concepts.


The knowledge base for students in all teacher education programs at Northern State university is organized around the following categories: 1)knowledge of self as an individual, 2) knowledge of content, 3) knowledge of the learner, 4) knowledge of pedagogy, and 5) knowledge of self as a teacher and member of a learning community.  This course addresses primarily KB goal 3 (knowledge of pedagogy), though it addresses other aspects of the knowledge base as well.


The most exciting feature of this particular methods course is that it is a collaborative effort between Northern and Aberdeen Central High School.  Northern has provided an overall plan for the course, but the actual class sessions will be taught by Central High School teachers, each of whom will work in the area of their greatest experience and expertise.


Each student in the methods class will have one of the Central High social studies teachers as a mentor, someone to work closely with them in helping to develop their teaching skills.  The mentor teachers will schedule their students as guest instructors for some Central High school classes, giving the methods students a chance to apply the teaching techniques they study in class. 


Portions of this course have been redesigned in order to better prepare our prospective social science teachers to make full use of technology in the classroom.  Your suggestions on this aspect of the course will be particularly appreciated.

This course syllabus and all other class materials are available on-line.  Go to Click on "current courses," and go to the SEED 415 link. 
To sign on for the WebCT portion of the course, go to the WebCT link off the NSU homepage ( Use your Datatel number as your user name. The Datatel number is on your ID card. Use the seven digits starting with the “5,” and omit the last number. Your Datatel number is also your initial password.  You can (and should) change the password immediately.

One goal of the re-designed course is to improve communications.  This can only happen if students check their e-mail regularly.  Please do so! You can contact me electronically at


I have prepared a brief textbook, Teaching Social Studies for Fun and Profit (TSSFFAP), for use in the methods class.  In addition to chapters on teaching philosophy and technique, the text contains many creative teaching ideas from students in previous methods classes.  In addition to the "hard-copy" text passed out in class, you will also have access to an "on-line" edition of the text.  I would appreciate your corrections/suggestions for both the hard copy and on-line editions.

Students will be allowed one absence only without penalty.  Your class grade will be lowered one full grade for each additional absence.  Coming to class late and/or leaving early are not acceptable.  You will be given only partial credit for attendance if you miss any significant portion of a class session. 


Northern State University recognizes its responsibility for creating an institutional climate in which students with disabilities can thrive.  If you have any type of disability for which you require accommodations, please contact Karen Gerety at the NSU Office of Disability Services (626-2371, Student Center 217) as soon as possible to discuss your particular needs.


Under Board of Regents and University policy student academic performance may be evaluated solely on an academic basis, not on opinions or conduct in matters unrelated to academic standards. Students should be free to take reasoned exception to the data or views offered in any course of study and to reserve judgment about matters of opinion, but they are responsible for learning the content of any course of study for which they are enrolled. Students who believe that an academic evaluation reflects prejudiced or capricious consideration of student opinions or conduct unrelated to academic standards should contact the academic dean administratively in charge of the class to initiate a review of the evaluation.


    Concentration on KB-5, Outcome 2 (Commitment to teaching)

Class meets in MJ 101 with Art Marmorstein for introductions and an overview of course.  The class will then move to the computer center for an introduction to the on-line portion of the course. 
    For next week:

    Read Chapter 1 of Teaching Social Studies for Fun and Profit (Everybody's Favorite Subject).  Do WebCT quiz online.

    Begin homepage set-up (see below).


    Class meets at the NSU computer center.  Discussion of internet resources available for the social sciences. Exploration of sites particularly suited to social studies. Register for MERLOT (, explore the site, and review at least one of the MERLOT submissions.  

    For next week:

    Finish home page, begin link collection (see below).


    Discussion of software available for the social studies classroom. Work on social sciences links page.

    For next week:

    Read Chapter 2 of Teaching Social Studies for Fun and Profit (Who We Are/Who We Teach: Building Effective Classroom Relationships) Do "on-line" quiz.


    Concentration on KB1, Outcome 2 (Respect and Concern for Students), KB2, Outcome 2 (Student Diversity) and KB5, Outcome 3 (Interpersonal Relations).  Stress on fact that successful teaching depends on building appropriate relations with one's students and discussion of ways of building those relationships.  Extra attention to the problem of relating to students whose values/beliefs are different from one's own.

    Note: This class (and all future classes) at Aberdeen Central High School B-210.

    View and discuss Guy Doud video Molder of Dreams.

    For next week:

Read TSSFFAP Chapter 3 (Once Around the Race Course:
Developing Effective Social Sciences Curriculum).  Do on-line quiz.

    Concentration on KB4, Outcomes 1 and 3 (Planning and Organizing, Classroom Management).  Stress on writing lesson plans in TSWBAT format.

Explanation, demonstration, and practice in curriculum planning (narrowly defined), unit planning, and daily lesson planning.

    For next week:

    Read TSSFFAP Chapter 4 (Shtick and Tricks, the Easy Road to Teaching Stardom--and to Creating an Effective Classroom Environment).  Do on-line quiz. 

    Submit sample unit plan/lesson plan on-line (see below).


Concentration on KB4, Outcome 3 (Classroom Management); KB1, Outcome 2 (Respect for All Students) and KB 5, Outcome 1 (Parent and Community Involvement).  Stress on prevention of disciplinary problems by creating an enjoyable environment for students.  

    Discussion of TSSFFAP chapter assigned above. Presentation by several Central teachers on how they create and maintain a good learning environment in their classroom. 

    For next week:

    Read TSSFFAP Chapter 5 (Gluing Students to Their Seats and Other Fun Social Science Games and Activities).  Do on-line quiz. Also, look through the games on the “Gluing Students to Their Seats” blog

    Prepare a learning game/activity for presentation to the methods class. Post your "learning game" on-line and include the game in you electronic portfolio (see below). Please make your game suitable for posting on the “Gluing Students to Their Seats” blog.


Concentration on KB4, Outcomes 1 and 2 (Planning, Implementation).  Stress on using a variety of supplemental activities (contests, art projects, video productions, etc.) to reinforce learning.

    Presentation of learning games to class


Outcomes as above

    Presentation of learning games to class

    For next week:

    Read TSSFFAP Chapter 6 (Classrooms Full of Stars: Theater Games in the Social Sciences).  Do on-line quiz.

    Contact your mentor teacher, and set a date for your guest presentation. Send me an e-mail message giving the time, location, and date of your guest lecture.

  October 24--THEATER GAMES

    Concentration on KB 4, Outcomes 1 and 2 (Planning and Implementation) and KB2 (Content).  Stress on how the basics of a good improvised scene (highly motivated characters, conflicts, complications, resolution of conflict) are also present at key historical moments and how improvising around historical situations can make history (and the other social sciences) come alive for students.

    Art Marmorstein will lead session showing how theater games can be used to advantage in the social science classroom.

    For next week:

    Read TSSFFAP Chapters 7 (Herodotus Had it Right: From Lecturer to Story Teller).  Do on-line quiz.

    If you have not done so already contact your mentor teacher and schedule your "guest" presentation. Send me an e-mail note giving the date, time, and location or your presentation.


    Emphasis on KB1, Outcome 1 (Communications skills); KB4, Outcomes 1 and 2 (Planning, Implementation).  Stress on essentials of a good lecture: having a clear purpose, a clear/logical structure, keeping students' minds engaged.  Sample lecture outlines passed out and explained.  Examples of effective lecture technique.

    Discussion of assigned TSSFFAP chapter. 

    For next week:

    Read TSSFFAP Chapter 8 (How to Get from Chicago to New York without Going through San Francisco: Leading Good Discussions).  Do on-line quiz.
    Outcomes as above.  Stress on essentials of a good discussion: Clear purpose, keeping students' minds engaged, asking good questions.  Extended discussion of what constitutes a good question and why.  Practice writing good questions.  Sample discussion outline passed out and explained.  Examples given of good discussion technique.

    Discussion of assigned TSSFFAP chapter.

    For next week:

    If you have not already done so, present your guest lecture/discussion to a Central High school class.  Be prepared to report on experience to Methods class.  Bring with your evaluations.  Send me a brief e-mail note summarizing your experience.


    Report and discussion of experience leading discussion.  Students meet with mentors for evaluation.

    Outcomes as above.


        Read TSSFFAP Chapter 9 (Tests, Homework, Papers, and Other Dirty Tricks to Play on Your Students).  Do on-line quiz.

        Read TSSFFAP Chapter 10 (Shut Down System Immediately and Reboot: Instructional Technology and the Social Sciences).  Do on-line quiz.


    Concentration on KB4, Outcome 3 and KB5, Outcome 1 (Assessment/Parent Involvement).  Stress on advantages/disadvantages of essay, multiple-choice, short answer tests.  Stress also on criteria for evaluating students writing and on how grading can best be used to motivate students. Second half of class: Concentration on KB 4, Outcome 5 (Instructional Materials).  Emphasis on problems with video as a teaching tool and possible ways of overcoming limitations.  Emphasis also on software available for social sciences and CD-ROM's worth looking at.

    Discussion of Chapter 9 of TSSFFAP.  Samples of effective homework assignments/term papers/projects.  Explanation and examples of effective testing procedures.  Discussion of assignments which encourage parental involvement.

    Discussion of movies, videos, overheads, filmstrips, computers, etc. and their advantages and disadvantages in the classroom.

    For next week: 

    Read TSSFFAP Chapter 11 (A Madness in Their Methods: New Trends in Education).  Do on-line quiz.


    Concentration on KB4, Outcomes 3 (Implementation)

Discussion of Outcome-based education, collaborative learning, mastery learning, multicultural education, etc.

    For next week:

    Read the remainder of TSSFFAP (including the appendix).  Do Final TSSFFAP quizzes. Prepare for final exam.


    *** Final exam: 4:00p.m, Tuesday, December 7, MJ 101 ***

  December 12-- ONLINE FINAL EXAM

    This is the “regularly scheduled” date for Tuesday evening finals.
    Please be sure your online final is completed by this date. 


    Your grade for this course will be based primarily on the assignments below.  In addition, we will take into account attendance and participation in figuring your final grade. 

    Note that a primary goal of this class is to figure out a way to make social sciences seem interesting and important to junior/senior high students. The more you contribute toward this goal, the higher your grade will be.   

ASSIGNMENT #1    PORTFOLIO (200 points possible):

    Students are to keep all their work (the paper, the lesson plan, the list of games/activities, etc.) in a portfolio.  Many of you already have begun a teaching portfolio in other education classes.  If so, please simply add the materials from this class to your existing portfolio. If at all possible, I would prefer to have your work included in an electronic portfolio linked to your homepage. 

    Please bring your self-evaluations, your mentor teacher evaluations, and your student evaluations to the final exam. Your portfolio and your evaluations will be reviewed by Art Marmorstein during the final exam and returned to you immediately.
ASSIGNMENT #2    ON-LINE QUIZZES (100 points possible):

    In order to make sure that students are keeping up with the reading, I have incorporated on-line quizzes for TSSFFAP.  These quizzes are often very short and they are intended to be easy.  But please do each of the quizzes on time!

    When you have finished reading the textbook, take the final on-line quiz.  That quiz is a review of all 11 chapters and the appendix.

ASSIGNMENT #3    HOME PAGE (100 points possible):

    Set up a home page on either the NSU student server or one of the many free home page servers available.  You will be graded both on content and creativity.  If you want to include your own images, I can make available a digital camera and a scanner. As you do further assignments for this course, they should be linked to your homepage.  Eventually, you should have a link to your lesson plan, a link to your social studies game/activity, and a link to your links page. 


    For this assignment, I’d like you organize a set of links to World Wide Web sites useful for social studies students and teachers. I would like you to take one particular area of social sciences and history and concentrate on that area.
    Your page will be evaluated in accord with the following criteria:

        1. Ease of navigation
        2. Visual attractiveness
        3. Completeness
        4. Appropriateness to the secondary classroom
        5. Reliability of suggested sources

ASSIGNMENT #5     LESSON PLAN (100 points possible):

    Read through some on-line sample lesson plans or look through some of the sample lesson plans in the NSU curriculum library.  Then prepare a sample unit or lesson plan of your own.  You will be graded for both content and creativity--and for paying attention to the suggestions in TSSFFAP! Publish your lesson plan online, and put a link to the plan on your homepage.

If you did a lesson plan for Dr. Ehli in General Methods, you may use that plan as a basis for this assignment.  You may also use the lesson plan techniques suggested by your cooperating teacher at Central.


Prepare a learning game/activity for both on-line and in-class presentation. You may use any of the suggested activities in TSSFFAP Chapter 5 as your model, but try to add creative touches of your own. You will be graded both on how effective the game/activity is in maintaining student interest and on how effective the activity is in teaching/reinforcing important social science information and ideas. See the "On-line Games" link on my Web page for additional examples. Be sure to check out my “Gluing Students to Their Seats” blog ( If you have a question/answer type game, BE SURE to include a databank of questions in a particular social studies area.

Publish your game online and include a link to the game on your homepage.

ASSIGNMENT #7     GUEST LECTURE/DISCUSSION (200 points possible):

    Prepare and give a lecture or discussion to a class at Central High. Pay close attention to the standards for a good lecture in TSSFFAP.  If appropriate, you may include a game or learning activity as part of your presentation.

    Be prepared to report on experience to methods class.  Bring with you a completed self-evaluation form (see below) and a detailed lesson plan/outline of your presentation.  Your plan should include a clear statement of the outcomes you expected for this particular class and a list of the important points you covered in lecture. Post your lesson plan online, and include a link to this plan on your homepage.

    Assignment due: Your mentor teacher will schedule a time for your class presentation.  Please do your very best work on this assignment.

ASSIGNMENT #9     FINAL EXAM (200 points):

    Be prepared for an exam on the material presented in the class sessions and in TSSFFAP.  Bring a blue book and a pen to the exam session.

    It is extremely important for all class members to be present for the final session.  Make-ups WILL NOT be possible except in extremely unusual circumstances.

    You will be asked to write essays in response to three (3) of the questions below.  In evaluating your exams, I will be looking primarily for evidence that you are familiar with the material presented in class and that you are likely to be able to apply that material when you are actually in the classroom.

        1.  What are the keys to a good lecture?  What kind of things can a teacher do to make sure that students pay attention to the lecture, enjoy the lecture, and learn something from it?  Include in your answer reference to the lecture you gave at Central High.  Note both what you did right, and what you would do differently next time.

        2.  What are the keys to an effective discussion?  What kind of things can a teacher do to make sure students participate in discussion, enjoy discussion, and learn something from it?  Include in your answer reference to the discussion you led at Central High.  Note both what you did right, and what you would do differently next time.

        3.  What are some of the things a teacher can/must do to create and maintain an effective learning environment in the classroom?  What can be done to make students want to do their best work?  What can be done to avoid/correct discipline problems?

        4.  What methods/activities other than lecture and discussion would you use in the classroom?  Note the advantages/disadvantages of each method you mention.

        5.  Suppose a prospective employer asks you why you want to be a social studies teacher and why you think social studies is important.  How would you respond?

        6.  What are some of the most important "new trends" in education?  In what ways might some of these "new trends" improve classroom education? In what ways are these new trends dangerous?


    In this class, you are preparing yourself, not just as an instructor, but as a model for students.  One thing you will see very quickly is that students do model your behavior.

    The problem here is that this amplifies mistakes.  Your errors, whether errors about historical facts or errors in spelling and grammar, will be absorbed by at least some of your students.

    As a result, it is important to strive for perfection.  Your work should be thorough, interesting, correct, and complete.  Written work and should be as polished as possible.  Actual teaching sessions will be evaluated according to the following standards:     

    90-100     Exceptionally good teaching.  Teacher not only does a good job with all the essentials of a good lesson (clear objectives, well organized material, etc.) but adds to this extra enthusiasm and energy.  Students are not only attentive but enjoying the lesson. 
    80-89        Above average teaching.  Material well organized and clearly presented.  Student interest level remains high throughout presentation.  Lesson has clear objectives, and those objectives are achieved.

    70-79       Meets basic requirements.  Covers the appropriate material, but does not show any special creativity or effort.

    60-69       Presentation falls short of basic requirements in some way.  Possible problems include low student interest and involvement, unclear objectives, and lack of solid content.

    Below 60    Presentation needs much improvement, fails to meet several of the above standards.


    The above schedule and procedures may be changed in the event of extenuating circumstances.