ELLISA Social Studies Teaching Practices

English Language and Literacy Integration in Subject Areas (ELLISA) Project
Strategies for Integrating Language and Literacy in Social Studies Instruction

Promote Academic Discourse

  • Model social studies discourse patterns such as recounting, explaining, and debating
  • Ask students to communicate their ideas and thinking about social studies concepts, especially claims, evidence and reasoning
  • Provide students with feedback on their use of academic language
  • Revoice or restate student contributions using social studies discourse patterns
  • Ask students questions that are intended to stimulate historical thinking and reasoning
  • Encourage students to respond directly to each other’s statements and claims
  • Ask students to restate, affirm and/or critique others’ assertions, claims, evidence and/or reasoning.

Support Literacy Development

  • Assign tasks that involve literacy skills (e.g., reading, writing, making charts and tables, creating time lines, interpreting maps)
  • Explain expectations of literacy tasks and provide clear instruction about how to successfully accomplish the tasks
  • Provide students with feedback on their use of social studies literacy practices
  • Provide vocabulary instruction on key terms and concepts
  • Use key social studies terms throughout the lesson
  • Give students opportunities to use key words in writing or talk

Scaffold Language and Content 

  • Modify talk (e.g., repetition, wait time, proper enunciation, rate of speech, rephrasing, L1 use) that facilitates student understanding of instruction
  • Pay explicit attention to language issues that might be confusing or difficult (e.g., multiplemeaning words, figurative language, idioms, and grammatical structures)
  • Provide supports such as sentence frames, word walls, glossaries, graphic organizers, outlines, and reading guides
  • Utilize visual representations, physical manipulatives, models and realia
  • Use gestures, multimedia resources, demonstrations and kinesthetic movements

Contextualize Learning

  • Anticipate and elicit students’ experiences from home, community or other out-of-school related to the social studies topic being studied
  • Make public students’ prior knowledge and thinking about the social studies topic
  • Connect social studies topics to local physical, geographic, or ecological environment or conditions
  • Link social studies topics to issues and challenges faced locally, statewide or nationally and/or ones that students have personal experience with
  • Engage students in problem and project-based learning tasks and assignments