Solving Problems in the
Park: Developing Yourg Citizens
Upper Elementary and Middls School
offers both a structure for organizing the social studies
curriculum and an instructional strategy for teaching.
The structure is a familiar one: the story. The strategy
is grounded in a belief that children learn best when
they are active participants in their own learning,
and places students’ own efforts to understand
at the center of the educational enterprise. Together,
the structure and the teaching strategy ensure that
students feel strongly motivated and have meaningful
and memorable learning experiences.
developed in Scotland during the 1960s, Storypath draws
support from decades of experience with teachers and
students. The approach has its roots in these beliefs
about children and learning:
world is complex and presents many layers of information.
Children know a good deal about how the world works.
have a reservoir of knowledge that is often untapped
in classroom settings.
children build on that knowledge through activities
such as questioning, investigating, and researching,
new understandings are acquired.
solving is a natural and powerful human endeavor.
When children are engaged in problem-solving, they
take ownership for their learning.
story form integrates
to help children apply their learning in a meaningful
context to gain a deeper, more complex understanding
of major concepts.
children construct their own knowledge and understanding
of their world, their learning is more meaningful
thousands of years, narrative text has helped us create
order and make connections between events. Storypath’s
narrative structure helps students understand concepts
that they often find difficult to comprehend in the
traditional social studies curriculum.
Storypath unit centers on a unique and engaging story
that provides a concrete context to understanding the
social science content. This story may be based on actual
historical events, as developed in the Struggle
for Independence unit. Or the story might instead
be based on typical community or business structures,
as developed in the Families in Their Neighborhoods
unit or in the unit called Understanding the Marketplace:
The Toy Company. From all of these structures,
students develop a meaningful context for developing
understanding of the topic and applying the literacy
skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking.
is the author of Storypath. She has piloted many of
the units herself in highly diverse classrooms primarily
in Seattle area. Additionally, she has worked with
many teachers in the USA, Canada, and Australia to
pilot the curriculum, and she acknowledges and thanks
them for their insights, expertise and enthusiasm
is the Director of Teacher Education in the Master
in Teaching program at Seattle University. A past
president of the National Council for the Social Studies,
Margit strongly adovocates for the critical role of
social studies education in a democratic society.