5 Social Science activities for home learning

Rhia Marie

I am teacher of Sociology and Psychology. I studied Sociology at The University of Birmingham. I trained as a teacher at UCL’s Institute of Education. I founded an online platform called Black Teachers Connect (@blackteachersconnect on Instagram) in 2018 – connecting educators worldwide. I have a passion for teaching and I am particularly interested in areas of assessment.

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With another week of lockdown continuing, many of us will continue teaching our students online. Engagement through remote learning can vary, it can be especially difficult if you are not teaching a core subject like English, Maths or Science. If you are like me, I have been struggling to keep some of my sociology and psychology students engaged outside of the classroom. It has required me to think outside the box and put my creative hat on when thinking about activities I can set my students to keep them hooked on social sciences!

1. The sociological imagination 

Doing sociology at home can be difficult for students, especially when they are without their teachers. They might lose some of the inspiration they once had, that is why it is super important to tap into their sociological imagination! I did this activity at the start of the lockdown with my Year 12 students – hopefully, you can have some success with your group. 

The whole idea of the sociological imagination is the idea that social forces have an impact on our lives, and this can be hard to teach. In a time where students are at home it will be great for them to be ‘thinking sociologically’ from day to day – this also helps to build on analysis (AO3) which is important for the exam: 

  • Every student is different so ask them to pick an everyday activity that people do in their household such as eating a meal, drinking tea, washing up the dishes etc.
  • Ask students to brainstorm why people do these different activities – what does it mean to the person, why do they do it, when do they do it?
  • They will be able to look at situations from a different angle – very much like what sociologists do! 
  • Ask them to display their findings in a word document or PowerPoint to share idea.

 

2. Sociology through the media 

Now more than ever, the media has become a part of our day to day during the Covid-19 pandemic. Rather than the students engaging with these articles in a way that can cause anxiety and negativity ask them to look at this through a sociological lense:

  • Each week ask your students to pick an article of their choice.
  • This can be related to one of the units you are currently working on i.e Family or Education.
  • Ask students to read and briefly summarise the article in their own words.
  • Then ask students to consider what different sociological perspectives (Functionalism, Marxism, Feminism etc) would think about the particular issue.
  • They can create a PowerPoint or Brainstorm on this.
  • This will also help to support application (AO2) skills in the classroom. 
  • By the end of school closures, they should have a wide portfolio of media articles that they would have analysed. 

 

 3. Family Tree

Before the lockdown, my students in Year 12 had just begun the family unit in Sociology. A very relatable topic where students can often analyse topics in a lot more detail. As an introductory task student can create a family tree.

  • Provide students with a template of a tree or they can draw their own.
  • Students can be really creative this adding in photos and small descriptions of family members. 
  • I also encouraged them in this time to find out some more about the rest of their family! From great grandparents to 2nd cousins, students will be able to do some research about their own families! 

 

4. Poetry in Sociology

Get students to be creative with the different topics that you are looking at. In order to help the retention of new information I encourage my students to come up with a poem or song to help them to remember.

To help support them in this I sometimes provide them with a list of keywords that should be included. This is an example of that I did with my Year 10 when look at the comprehensive and tripartite systems of education:

 

In 1965 the comprehensive act came alive,​

Tripartite was bad, working class went mad!​

Now classes mixed, education seemed fixed,​

No 11+ exam, it was all a sham.​

All abilities under one roof, ​

The system did not tell the truth.​

Designed to cater for all abilities, “everyone had access to the same facilities”​

But streaming often happened based on class,​

True potential was hidden behind a mask.​

 

5. Sampling with Skittles or any sweets!

Due to coronavirus, I won’t be able to do this activity when we get back to school! Students normally do this together in groups together with a bag of skittles – however life at school will look slightly different when we get back. 

Research methods are not always fun, and sampling can be boring for students but using skittles can be fun! Students will need a bag of skittles (if they don’t – don’t encourage them to go out. They can be innovative and use other sweets or fruits etc). Doing this through a live lesson can be fun. You can demonstrate how we can ‘sample’ with the sweets and students must also follow your demonstration. This can be done with all types of sampling and when students can visual this it becomes much easier to understand.

Tutor 2 U also have a resource which you can download to help assist with this task!

 

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