PS/IS 686 | Brooklyn, NY

4th Grade Humanities on Social Thinking

Dear Fourth Grade Families,

It is amazing how fast this school year went!

I made a mistake on 401’s field trip form.  It is a type.  Their trip is on THURSDAY, May 31st.  402 will be going on Friday.

We have much to do and learn for the last 2 months of school.

In Social Studies we are launching a new Unit, “Freedom and the New Nation.”  The thought behind this unit are arranged around this quote.

“Powerful social studies teaching helps students develop social understanding
and civic efficacy… Civic efficacy—the readiness and willingness to assume
citizenship responsibilities—is rooted in social studies knowledge and skills,
along with related values (such as concern for the common good) and attitudes
(such as an orientation toward participation in civic affairs). The nation depends
on a well-informed and civic-minded citizenry to sustain its democratic
traditions, especially now as it adjusts to its own heterogeneous society and
its shifting roles in an increasingly interdependent and changing world.”

4.4 GOVERNMENT: There are different levels of government within the United States and New York State. The purpose of government is to protect the rights of citizens and to promote the common good. The government of New York State establishes rights, freedoms, and responsibilities for its citizens. 4.4a After the Revolution, the United States of America established a federal government; colonies established state governments. 4.4b The New York State Constitution establishes the basic structure of government for the state. The government of New York creates laws to protect the people and interests of the state. 4.4c Government in New York is organized into counties, cities, towns, and villages. 4.4d New Yorkers have rights and freedoms that are guaranteed in the United States Constitution, in the New York State Constitution, and by state laws. 4.4e Citizens of the State of New York have responsibilities that help their nation, their state, and their local communities function. Some responsibilities are stated in laws.

History of the United States and New York State Key Idea 1.1: The study of New York State and United States history requires an analysis of the development of American culture, its diversity and multicultural context, and the ways people are unified by many values, practices, and traditions. Key Idea 1.2: Important ideas, social and cultural values, beliefs, and traditions from New York State and United States history illustrate the connections and interactions of people and events across time and from a variety of perspectives. Key Idea 1.3: Study about the major social, political, economic, cultural, and religious developments in New York State and United States history involves learning about the important roles and contributions of individuals and groups. Key Idea 1.4: The skills of historical analysis include the ability to: explain the significance of historical evidence; weigh the importance, reliability, and validity of evidence; understand the concept of multiple causation; understand the importance of changing and competing interpretations of different historical developments.

Overarching goals of the unit will teach students to connect the local and the global, understanding of how the actions of people around the planet have an economical, technological, and cultural influence on all peoples of the world.  We hope at the end of the unit students will:

• participate in local and global economies.

• be open-minded, especially in understanding one’s own cultural lens as well as others’ distinct cultural lenses.

• celebrate similarities among different groups of people. • understand and respect peoples’ differences.

• use electronic technologies in order to research people and cultures in every world region.

• understand the importance of cross-cultural communication, both within the United States and across borders.

• recognize and reduce stereotypes and prejudices.

• have compassion for all peoples of the world.

In Community Building, we finished our anti-bullying curriculum this week and will  be launching a new curriculum that will incorporate the theater games we learned in the Shakespeare residency with a pragmatic language curriculum.

According to the web site by the authors of this pragmatic curriculum,

“Social thinking is the process by which we interpret the thoughts, beliefs, intentions, emotions, knowledge and actions of another person along with the context of the situation to understand that person’s experience. If we are engaging or sharing space with another person, we use this information to determine how to respond to affect the thoughts that person has about us to achieve our social goals (such as being friendly to maintain a friendship, acting generous to impress a date, and seeming unfriendly to deflect attention when walking alone late at night, etc.). Social thinking is our meaning maker – it allows us to interpret the deeper meaning behind what others do in the world, and (if the situation calls for it) prompts us with how to respond. A person’s social thinking ability has a considerable affect on his or her relationships and success in school and at work. It affects the person’s social skills, perspective taking, self-awareness, self-regulation, critical thinking, social problem solving, play skills, reading comprehension, written expression, ability to learn and work in a group, organizational skills, etc.

We practice social thinking all day long, in typical social interactions (like conversations) and in a wide variety of other contexts. Essentially, we use social thinking whenever we think about the perspective of another person. For example,

At work – when we become aware that by loudly sipping our coffee we may be bothering our coworkers.
At the grocery store – when we move our cart away from the middle of the isle so other shoppers can pass by.
Watching TV – when we follow the story by understanding how the characters interpret and then influence each other.
While driving – when we slow down upon sensing that another car will cut in front of us.
When we’re on social media – to understand the intention of a message and its sender; for example whether it is to be friendly, sarcastic, flirty, compassionate, etc.
In conversation – when we attempt to read the thoughts, beliefs, intentions, emotions, knowledge and actions of our conversation partner(s) and adapt our behavior to affect the thoughts they have about us.

The same social thinking ability required to relate effectively to people around us is also essential for success in academics. Students must use social thinking constantly at school, to work effectively as part of a group, stay on task, figure out the expected times to talk in class, and share space well with others in the classroom, cafeteria, and on the playground. Social thinking is also critical to succeed in individualized academic tasks, such as reading a book. Social thinking is required when reading stories to understand the deeper meaning behind the actions of the characters and their relationships. If a student has poor social thinking abilities, he or she will struggle to take the perspective of characters, figure out how they are affected by others, and understand why characters act and feel as they do. These students tend to be “more literal” in how they interpret social cues and can have very strong factual learning. They tend to do better with informational text but are weak in comprehending social literature.

Social thinking is also required to write an effective essay. We use social thinking to make sure our arguments make sense to our audience by taking the perspective of the reader and considering what a person may already know or not know about the topic. We must also take the reader’s perspective to consider how to organize the information so it will be logical for the reader to follow. If a student struggles with social thinking, he or she will have difficulty understanding the perspective of the audience and will therefore have trouble writing a persuasive essay that is well organized and easily understood by others.

Improving a person’s social thinking begins with improving self-awareness. Only as individuals gain awareness of their own thoughts, emotions, and intentions can they become increasingly aware of the thoughts, emotions, intentions, and actions of others. As a result, they are better able to use the information they’ve gained from their social thinking to inform many things they do throughout the day. Improving a person’s social thinking will help improve their social skills (social behavior), reading comprehension, written expression, narrative language, ability to work as part of a group, ability to make and keep friends, etc. Much of what we do in school, at work, and as part of the community requires understanding the perspectives of other people. It all requires social thinking.”

In Writing we are finishing up writing a letter in class from the perspective of a person who lived during the Revolutionary War.  Our last writing of the year will be a poetry unit, situated around the work of Pablo Neruda, Civil Right’s singers, Langston Hughes, the Art work of Peter Sis, and other poets who wrote about what it means to be free.  This writing unit will work interdependently with our new SS unit and our next read aloud, The Dreamer.

That’s it for now.  Enjoy the beautiful weather!


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