By Rissa Hanneken, Updated October 25, 2023
Election day activities can be a fantastic but challenging opportunity to teach 3rd and 4th graders about the complexities of our democratic process. The good news? Reading strategies are the unsung heroes that can make these topics more accessible and engaging for our students. With challenging vocabulary and abstract ideas often standing as barriers, it’s important to have a plan for how to teach this topic. In this post, I’m sharing how we can easily integrate reading strategies into our election day activities to really bring home the subject matter for our students.
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Why Reading Strategies for Election Day Activities?
Reading isn’t just about recognizing words; it’s about comprehension. Comprehension is the bridge that connects students to subjects like social studies. Think of reading strategies as your toolbox. Just like you wouldn’t use a hammer for every repair job, you wouldn’t use just one strategy for all reading tasks. But – using reading strategies and these Election Day activities can help your students really learn and understand complex topics.
- Activate Prior Knowledge: Get those young minds jogging by recalling what they already know about elections using a KWL chart like this one. You might be surprised by how much they already know!
- Make Predictions: Let students predict what information the author will share in the text. This is an opportunity to chart these predictions as a whole class then hang the chart up in your classroom. Your students will be able to compare the reading to the predictions while they read.
Make sure your students come back after this reading lesson and fill out the last column – What You Learned. This would be a great opportunity for them to share or pair up to show what they have learned!
- Chunking: Break down the information into smaller, manageable units. In this passage, the text is divided into smaller, more manageable chunks for students. They can easily understand this complex topic this way.
- Highlight Key Terms: Have students underline or circle election-specific vocabulary.
- Annotate: Encourage students to jot down their thoughts in the margins, or give them this fun 1st Read Notes Organizer. Each time they read this passage, they can add to their notes – which deepens comprehension.
- Respond to Text: Using comprehension questions to help students respond to their reading deepens comprehension and strengthens their close reading skills.
- Summarize: After reading, ask students to summarize the key points in their own words. They will write a much better summary when they truly comprehend the content!
- Discussion and Application: This is a perfect time for election day activities. Get them to apply what they’ve just learned. Perhaps a mock election? Pick a topic and let your students vote – they will love it!
If you need an Elections Day activities that will make teaching this complex topic much easier AND provide all the pieces needed to turn it into a reading lesson – CLICK HERE.
Want to know more about teaching Social Studies using reading strategies?
- How to Use Close Reading Strategies with Social Studies Text
- How to Improve Social Studies Reading Comprehension
- Social Studies: How to Teach it in Guided Reading Groups
The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.Robert John Meehan
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