One thing that we frequently discuss at Studies Weekly in our personal conversations, individual department meetings, and companywide events is the importance of social studies education. And why wouldn’t we? This is what we do every day.
To us, social studies is about more than teaching kids the states and capitals. It’s more than just learning the geography of your state or all the names and terms of the presidents. Incorporating English Language Arts into your social studies can and should be done as a richer education experience. Here are five ideas to blend ELA learning with your social studies lessons:
1. Act It Out
After reading their Studies Weekly booklets for the week, assign students a literary genre. They will then choose an article from their publication and present it to the class. For instance, they can write a poem about Christopher Columbus and recite it or act it out. Students can create a mystery story relating to the forming of their state, or a comedy sketch about the three branches of government.
Encourage students to get creative with props and the storyline, but remind them to showcase what they learned about their chosen topic. Teaches the following ELA Areas: Speaking; Writing; Reading; Listening; Analysis; Research & Citations; Art, Activities, & Projects; Viewing; Literary Genres
2. Create a Video Journal
After reading their Studies Weekly booklets for the week, have them create video journals. This is easier to do if students have access to computers or tablets. If they don’t have access, they can create a storyboard of what would transpire in the video. The goal is not a perfect analysis of the event or the historical figure you are studying. Video journals build fluency, prepare students for discussions, and help students practice conversation. Teaches the following ELA Areas: Speaking; Listening; Analysis; Viewing
3. Have A Debate
Set up a debate in your elementary school class. This is going to look different depending on which grade you’re teaching. A fourth grader’s understanding of the Emancipation Proclamation, for instance, will be a lot different from a sixth grader’s, but this doesn’t mean it’s impossible for them to learn it and talk about what they learned.
Have students on either side research the topic and debate the pros and cons, discuss the implications and originations of the subject, and try to come up with a compromise. Teaches the following ELA Areas: Speaking; Writing; Reading; Listening; Analysis; Research & Citations
4. Hold a Round Table Discussion
Have all the students choose one of the articles in the Studies Weekly booklet for that week. After thoroughly reading and analyzing the article and its subject, put all the desks or chairs in the classroom in a circle. With their booklets in front of them, encourage the students to open up a dialogue about what they read. Encourage them to use other sources to pull information and cite from if needed to expound their point. Teaches the following ELA Areas: Speaking; Reading; Analysis; Research & Citations
5. Write to a Historical Pen Pal
After reading their Studies Weekly booklets for the week, have students choose a historical pen pal or when relevant, a current political figure. Once a week, students will write to a historical figure that they have chosen to learn more about. Encourage the students to draw pictures or incorporate diagrams, and ask questions. Once completed, pass out the letters to a different classmate and have them respond back as if they were the historical figure. Teaches the following ELA Areas: Writing; Reading; Analysis; Research & Citations; Art, Activities, & Projects