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Content Literacy Strategies: History/Social Science

Here are descriptions of over 30 strategies and activities that may be used to teach the Historical and Social Science Analysis Skills from the History-Social Science Content Standards through children’s literature. They were developed to support the Pages of the Past and Tales of Time literature lists. Books to use may be found on the Children's Literature databases of SCORE H-SS.

ReadingQuest
ReadingQuest is designed to provide you with the philosophical bases for sound comprehension strategy instruction, directions for a range of comprehension and content reading strategies, and printable handouts and masters for transparencies. You will be invited to think about how a social studies skills framework might help you choose the right strategies for your lessons.

Reading Resources Network
This teacher site by Scholastic has a wealth of information about how to support students to become better readers. The emphasis is on early elementary. The subsection Strategies for Building Success in Your Classroom is the most important for the social studies teacher with its emphasis on nonfiction, classroom libraries, and guided reading.

Graphic Organizers for Reading
This set of thirty graphic organizers has suggested applications to analyzing, brainstorming, comparing, evaluating, hypothesizing, interacting sequencing and visualizing information.

Reading in the Content Areas: Study Guides and Vocabulary Activities
There are a large number of technical words and concepts in the history-social science content area. Specific words are used to convey concepts, facts and generalizations. Students must comprehend 75% of the ideas and 90% of the vocabulary of a content area reading text to understand it on an instructional level.

Content Area Literacy
Here are fourteen strategies for teaching students to improve their reading of history-social science material. Each has an indication of when in the lesson the strategy is appropriate and instructions for applying it in the classroom.

Using Readers Theatre
Readers Theatre is a presentation of text that is expressively and dramatically read aloud by two or more readers. Although there may be some staging or costumes, the emphasis is on reading! English Learners benefit immeasurably because they have the opportunity to practice a text several times as they prepare a performance.

Exploring How Section Headings Support Understanding of Expository Texts
This lesson supports third- through fifth-grade students' exploration and understanding of the purposes for section headings in expository texts. Resources are provided for the teacher to select texts that are appropriate to the students' reading level, interests, and curriculum. The lesson requires students to work together to explore their understanding of section headings and solve problems presented to them. For extension activities, students can write their own expository text using three to five section headings and apply the strategy to the outline format.

Choosing, Chatting, and Collecting: Vocabulary Self-Collection Strategy
The vocabulary self-collection strategy involves having students choose the words they want to learn, chat about their rationale for selecting words, and agree upon words for a classroom collection. This strategy is an effective approach to helping students understand the meanings of new words, use them in conversations and writing, and make personal connections with words while reading. The strategy also encourages students to use the words for authentic tasks and on a regular basis in their writing. In this lesson, an online Shakespeare text is used as an example. The strategy can be applied to any content area reading.

Building Reading Comprehension Through Think-Alouds
Studies have shown that the think-aloud strategy improves reading comprehension on tests. Through this lesson, the teacher will model the think-aloud strategy for students. Components of think-alouds will be introduced, as well as type of text interactions. Students will develop the ability to use think-alouds to aid in reading comprehension tasks.

Literature Circles
This is a site by the Literature Circles Resources Center at Seattle University. It provides information about how to use Literature Circles to help students discuss what they have read and to use what they learn from peers to construct understanding.

Strategy Sheet - Reading for Meaning
This site describes four strategies from the California Reading and Literature Project for making meaning from a reading assignment: Jigsaw, Literary Bumper Sticker, Literary Report Cars and Fishbowl.

Literacy and Learning: Content Literacy Strategies
Here are over 32 strategies for improving comprehension that can be applied to history-social science content reading. Each strategy is described on a separate, downloadable pdf page

Reading Strategies for the Social Studies Classroom
This Holt, Reinhart and Winston site offers U.S. and World History examples of 10 reading strategies by Judith Irvin. They include previewing text, understanding text, graphic organizers, visualizing, building background knowledge, constructing concepts, making predictions, activating prior knowledge, anticipating information, and developing vocabulary.

Reading Strategies for the Social Studies Class (PDF)
This resource was developed by Gretchen Coe and Anne Fitzpatrick from Mercer Middle School in Seattle. They divide the strategies by what do before reading, during reading and after reading to help student understand social studies text.

How to Read a Textbook
The format of a textbook affects the reading strategies a student uses. The more organizational and formatting aids there are, the easier it is for students to make sense of the materials.

Reading: Reading Expository Text
Expository text is the life blood of history-social science. These texts are written to inform, describe, explain, or persuade. They include essays, speeches, newspaper and magazine articles, government documents, journals, directions, and lab procedures. Each type of text places different demands on the reader because of the unique ways it uses structure, features, conventions, and devices. Consequently, students need to understand the structure of expository text, how to prepare to read it, and how make meaning.

Be a Reading Detective: Finding Similarities and Differences in Ideas
This lesson provides a compare and contrast strategy technique for nonfiction writing. First, students are introduced to the terms compare and contrast, and asked to find similarities and differences between two common items. Next, students reference an article practice evaluating text by comparing and contrasting. A Reader's Tool Kit handout guides students to identify ways in which an author relates ideas and relationships. Students are then introduced to Venn diagrams as tools that demonstrate similarities and differences. To show that they understand compare and contrast, students independently apply the techniques they learned to curriculum-based materials and present their findings to the class.

An Exploration of Text Sets: Supporting All Readers
The lesson supports readers of a range of abilities and experience through the use of text sets. A text set is a collection that focuses on one concept or topic and includes multiple genres such as books, charts and maps, informational pamphlets, poetry and songs, photographs, non-fiction books, almanacs or encyclopedias. In this lesson, the class community will put together a collection of text sets on topics of keen interest. They will then explore these texts using three key reading strategies: (1) graffiti boards, (2) browsing for key information, and (3) uninterrupted reading/focused freewriting.

Acquiring New Vocabulary Through Book Discussion Groups
This lesson explores various ways in which to foster students' vocabulary skills through direct instruction and small-group discussions. While reading the text Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco, students identify words that are unfamiliar to them. Working collaboratively in small groups, they discuss the meaning of these new words using context clues from the text, prior knowledge, and print and online resources. They then apply their knowledge of the new vocabulary to further their understanding of the text. This particular lesson can be modified and reused for other areas of the curriculum, with moderate preparation and researching of topic-related resources. Extensions are included to further expand vocabulary acquisition and reading comprehension.

Questions, comments, and suggestions may be addressed to webmaster@rims.k12.ca.us.

Resources on the SCORE H/SS pages were evaluated by history/social science leaders in California. Going beyond these links allows student access to unknown material. Each school site is responsible for evaluating resources for appropriateness in the local school community.

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