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To properly implement problem-based learning or inquiry within the classroom, for social studies or any subject, requires a lot of time and effort to plan and prepare for. It also requires an extended period of time in the classroom to give the students ample opportunity to gain a clear, specific understanding of the question they have to answer or the problem they want to solve, to gather data, conclude, communicate and evaluate. Problem-based learning involves real-world, open-ended tasks that focus on authentic learning that requires in-depth inquiry (Chapin, 2013). It challenges students to explain their thought processes, to help them understand the meaning of what they are learning rather than just memorizing the information. Unfortunately, problem-based learning can only be implemented a few times during a school year because of the additional time it requires.
It would be great to be able to implement problem-based learning in my classroom on a daily basis. I believe that students learn best and retain the content much better when they are able to relate the information to their life. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that with a set curriculum or a set of standards that have to be covered in the year, time will not usually permit for such lessons, even with extended days. Regardless of the grade I am teaching, I have found that there is usually too much content that needs to be covered on a daily basis in the core subjects, that it is rather difficult to fit in science and social studies especially when they are given only twenty minutes each a day. I think the best way to approach fostering implementation of problem-based learning, in social studies, is to integrate the material being covered with core subjects. With this approach, a teacher can assure multiple standards are being taught while utilizing their time effectively. Another approach that can be used to implement problem-based learning is to implement project based learning, where even though the information is taught at school, the majority of the research, data collecting and concluding are completed at home. Students get their lesson(s) at school, but prepare their projects at home. Depending on what the particular topic is, students could be allowed to present their findings and evaluations in several different ways that would better interest the student, help them retain the information and gives them a chance to tap into different learning styles that they were not aware of..
Chapin, J. (2013). Elementary social studies: A practical guide(8th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.