Jay Tope's Social Studies Literacy Resource Center
What strategies can we use to help literacy in social studies?
Social Studies Literacy Defined
In our field of teaching, literacy can be defined in several ways. Social studies is the study of social relationships along with the ways in which groups interact with one another across the whole world. Since this discipline involves people, it involves the ability to think, read, and comprehend. In order to fully understand all of this, a student must have strong literacy skills. It is only natural to conclude that social studies and literacy go hand in hand. Much research conducted over the past few decades have shown that how students learn social studies and how they learn literacy are very similar. Therefore, if the social studies lessons are not interactive, interesting, and fun, both skills will suffer.
Social studies literacy also means understanding the content through one's own experiences. Communication is important for people to get along with one another. The ways discussed on the Strategies page will help develop literacy skills by making sure that all students have ways in which they can fully absorb the material in the social studies content area. Since everyone learns differently, then it only makes sense that there needs to be a variety of ways to distribute that information. Moreover, since social studies has a reputation of being a 'boring' subject for students, it's up to the teachers, not the students, to make sure that the content is engaging, fun, and relatable.
Every teacher, no matter the subject area, is a teacher of reading. In the past, social studies teachers dealt more with reading than writing. Instruction was brought down to the students' reading level. Not only did the majority of the class suffer, but even those that struggled suffered because there wasn't any improvement in their skills. But there have been many advances through educational research that has changed the way teachers use learning strategies in the classroom. These strategies involve having students develop their mind through critical thinking, interactive events in the classroom, engagement through fun activities, activation of prior knowledge, and making all material relatable. We have focused on three of those strategies for the purpose of this website.
Click HERE for Strategies...