Social Studies

Strategy Instruction

  • Before reading:

    • Discuss prior knowledge, or what the students know about the subject. Use a K-W-L chart or anticipation guide to preassess.
  • During reading:

    • Do NOT assign content reading as homework.
    • Model good reading comprehension strategies through teacher read-alouds and think-alouds. Questioning the text as you read can help promote student questioning as they read independently.
    • Practice identifying contextual clues that support understanding and vocabulary.
    • Use graphic organizers when appropriate. 
  • After reading:

    • Complete an appropriate graphic organizer.
    • Write about the learning: Double-Entry Journal or Personal-Response Journal
    • Research a related topic

Graphic Organizers

The use of graphic organizers help students organize and connect ideas in relation to one another. When students utilize graphic organizers, they can make sense of text as they visually represent the connections. This strategy supports struggling students that may not be able to visualize on their own yet.

Common graphic organizers for social studies include:

  • Chronology:
    • Timelines/Sequence chains
  • Compare & Contrast:
    • Venn diagrams
    • Compare & contrast matrix
    • T-chart
  • Big Picture Connections:
    • Concept webs/maps
    • Central idea & details chart
  • Analysis
    • PERSIA Analysis chart (Political, Economics, Religion, Social Issues, Intellect, Artistic)
    • GRAPES Analysis chart (Geography, Religion, Achievements, Politics, Economics, Social Structure)
    • APPARTS Artifact Analysis chart (Author, Place and Time, Prior Knowledge, Audience, Reason, The Main Idea, Significance)

Reproducible graphic organizers:

Word Walls

A word wall is not a static space filler. Word walls in the content area provide a reference point of new vocabulary for the class and can promote usage in writing, conversation, and group learning. The Montgomery County Public Schools of Maryland (2012), provide a list of ways to use words walls to promote vocabulary in the social studies classroom. Their list is copied below for easy reference:

"Ways to use:

  • Note (circle, highlight, discuss) a particular vocabulary word to build familiarity as it is encountered.
  • Select a reference for an important social studies word. Cooperatively decide on a common reference for the word and post on word wall.
  • Circle in Writing: Ask students to circle their use of word wall vocabulary in their writing.
  • Quick Review: Do a quick review a few times each week. Take five minutes to call out a few words. After each word is called out students draw a quick sketch with labels or captions to demonstrate the meaning of the word.
  • Collect Words: Ask students to search reading and writing contexts to collect examples of word wall vocabulary and record examples on charts.
  • Overhead Celebrations: Celebrate successes. Show positive examples of word wall usage by copying and displaying student writing with usage of the vocabulary."

Online Resources