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Concept-based Instruction in a Social Studies Classroom

Subject Social Studies
Level: Year 3
Name of teacher Lim Shok Hoon
Topic Culture, Community and Identity
Macro-concept 1.     Systems have elements that interact with each other to perform a function.

2.     Systems follow rules.

Enduring Understanding Societal harmony and dynamism may require members to adapt and adjust to cultural norms and beliefs
Essential Question(s) OR Guiding question(s) 1.     Must everybody conform for society to be harmonious?

2.     Should diversity be subordinated to commonality?

Curricular or Pedagogical Focus / Lens  

Concept-Based Instruction

The lesson was carried out after students attended either the Outward Bound School (OBS) Course or school-based Personal Effectiveness (PE) Workshop. Students would unpack how we were part of a larger society and that society seemed to influence our attitudes and behaviour.


I recalled lessons students learnt last year, in which concepts like Culture and Identity were taught. Examples included “what were elements of culture” and “what constituted identity”.

During Lesson 1 and 2:

Students recapped OBS/ PE workshop experience and how this related to the issues of conformity/ non-conformity and social control. Students were divided in groups –OBS / PE workshop- and each group examined the OBS/ PE workshop by answering questions. They shared in their group, classified their thoughts into a question quadrant. They examined the dynamics of being in a group i.e. what were the benefits, issues, tension and harmony. The questions were as follows:

1) How are groups formed?

2) What would determine the ability of the group to:

  •        Get things done?
  •        Stay together?

3) Does focusing on the group help to:

  • Get things done?
  • Stay together?

4) What are some of these norms/practices that were cultivated during your OBS stint?

5) Did you agree or disagree with those norms/practices? Why?

6) Is the group more important than the individual?

  • Reasons for?
  • Reasons against?

From the sharing by students, they reflected how we were “subordinate” to a wider culture, that seemed to dictate our actions and beliefs. We all had roles/ expectations/ practices that governed our attitudes and behaviour in any given social situation. The roles and practices helped give us stability and functionality — a form of social control.

The students’ sharing helped me to frame the subsequent lesson on examining the concept of functionalism and harmony.

Posted by: Ms Lim Shok Hoon

Senior Teacher

Raffles Girls’ School

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