In today’s post, I’m focusing on reading strategies for Social Studies, an important area as we navigate the journey with upper elementary students transitioning from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” This transition can be particularly challenging when dealing with complex texts like those found in Social Studies content. We’ve all been there, in front of our eager young readers, guiding them through dense texts filled with facts and difficult concepts. So, what’s the key to making this process a bit easier? It’s about leveraging effective reading strategies to aid in comprehending this new and intricate information. In this post, I’m focusing on pre-reading and 1st read strategies.
Are you looking for an engaging Social Studies text that you can use with reading strategies? CLICK the image or button below!
Table of Contents
Previewing the Text
The first reading strategy for Social Studies texts is previewing the text. Think of previewing a text like giving your students a map before they set off on an adventure. Encourage them to scan the headings, subheadings, and images. This initial exploration helps them anchor their understanding and prepares them for the journey ahead in the text.
Here are a few tips to make this early exploration interactive:
- Title and Cover Analysis: Start by looking at the title, cover, and any pictures on it. Discuss what these elements might suggest about the content of the text.
- Headings and Subheadings: Skim through the headings and subheadings if available. This gives students an idea of the main topics or themes covered in the text.
- Picture Walk: Go through the text and look at all the pictures, charts, or maps. Discuss what these images might tell us about the story or information in the text.
- Bold or Italicized Words: Pay attention to words in bold or italics. These are often key terms or concepts that are important to understand the text.
- Sidebars and Fact Boxes: Look at any sidebars or fact boxes in the text. These often contain interesting facts or summaries that can provide context or additional information.
This sample text has a title, headings, and a photograph. Just highlighting these simple text features can be highly effective in helping students begin to understand what they are about to read.
One strategy I have found that is worth the extra effort is to create guiding questions for the text. These are basic questions that are reading skill-related instead of content-specific, and they set a purpose for reading.
Examples of guiding questions:
- What is the text mostly about (main idea)
- What questions do you have
- What do you notice
- What words you don’t understand
The purpose of these questions is for students to focus, but they are also effective for post-reading discussions.
Getting the Gist
After your students finish reading a section, encourage them to take a moment and summarize what they’ve read using their own words. This strategy, known as ‘getting the gist’, is like drawing a quick sketch of the journey they’ve just taken through the text. It’s about boiling down the main ideas of what they’ve read, making sure they’ve understood the core message, and being able to express it in a way that’s clear and makes sense to them.
Using reading strategies for Social Studies content can make a big difference in how your students transition to reading to learn. Of course, these strategies are not a one-and-done. They can be used for all types of content because they’re very effective! Plus, they will take these strategies with them as they encounter other complex text!
Want to learn more about using reading strategies for Social Studies text?
- How to Improve Social Studies Comprehension
- How to Use Close Reading Strategies with Social Studies Text
This bundle brings together three big ideas in Social Studies in a way that’s easy to weave into your reading lessons. Students will dive into how the Constitution shapes our government, learn about the three branches, and explore voting and elections. They’ll also get to understand checks and balances and lots more, all in a friendly, easy-to-understand format! It’s an effective way for your students to practice reading strategies for Social Studies!
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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