Committed to differentiation and engagement: A case study of two American secondary social studies teachers

Derek Anderson, Tanya Cook
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Abstract This case study examines two 10th-grade US History teachers who collaborated to create and implement an integrated, thematic eight-week unit on war with an emphasis differentiated instruction. Drawing on the National Council for the Social Studies (2010) framework for powerful and purposeful social studies instruction, the case study uses multiple sources of data, including 38 lesson observations, analyses of the teachers' lesson plans and student work, and interviews of teachers. Initially, the teachers were successful at engaging students in simulations, small-group discussions, and higher-order thinking. As the unit progressed, however, the teachers reverted to transmission-style teaching with an emphasis on breadth over depth. Changing teaching practice requires overcoming barriers associated with prior experiences and deeply-held beliefs about teaching and learning.


differentiation; thematic instruction

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