Skills in the social studies curriculum are taught within the context of applying knowledge. Authentic application activities promote the practice of skills without interrupting content flow. As students develop increasingly sophisticated and informed concepts and generalizations in social studies, they are provided opportunities to develop and apply appropriate skills that enhance critical thinking processes.

Connection to National Standards

As planning for integrating the teaching and use of social studies skills occurs, it is significant to note that essential skills have been identified by the National Council for the Social Studies, in the National Standards for Civics and Government, in the National Geography Standards, and in the National Content Standards in Economics.

Three strands of essential skills are identified by the National Council for the Social Studies:

  • acquiring information;
  • organizing and using information; and
  • developing interpersonal relationships and social participation.

The National Standards for Civics and Government include intellectual and participatory skills such as:

  • influencing policies and decisions by working with others;
  • articulating interests and making them known to key decision and policy makers; and
  • building coalitions, negotiating, compromising, and seeking consensus.

The National Geography Standards include the following skills:

  • asking geographic questions;
  • acquiring geographic information;
  • organizing geographic information;
  • analyzing geographic information; and
  • answering geographic questions.

The National Content Standards in Economics include the following skills:

  • identifying economic problems, alternatives, benefits, and costs;
  • analyzing the incentives at work in an economic situation;
  • examining the consequences of changes in economic conditions and public policies;
  • collecting and organizing economic evidence; and
  • comparing benefits with costs.

Foundation for Skills Development

Mastery of the social studies skills comes only as the result of practice, continued use, and refinement through an integrated historical, social, political, and economic context. Social studies skills are necessary for the development of social inquiry and rational decision making and must be clearly identified and sequentially developed throughout the K-12 program. The use of critical thinking processes provides a foundation for development of K-12 social studies skills. These critical thinking processes include: classifying; interpreting; analyzing; summarizing; synthesizing; and evaluating.

North Carolina Standard Course of Study Social Studies Skills

The social studies skills include:

  • Reading and vocabulary building;
  • Using research to gather, synthesize, and report;
  • Analyzing, interpreting, creating, and using resources;
  • Applying decision making and problem solving techniques; and
  • Incorporating technologies.