Reading Strategies
Reading texts in social studies requires students to have basic skills such as the ability to recall and identify main ideas and details in addition to the ability to use higher order thinking skills to analyze texts for format and structure, perspective, and synthesize information across texts.
Successful social studies students must be able to understand context and relationships and to make connections from differing periods of history to current events. As such, teachers must introduce students to instructional strategies that promote students’ deep understanding of social studies texts.
Reading tasks of social studies require students to:
  • Sequence and make connections between historical events
  • Understand text structures and features
  • Evaluate resources
  • Recognize issues and trends in context
  • Engage in reflective inquiry through reading
  • Recognize relationships such as: cause and effect, continuity and change, turning points, connections to past and present, multiple and competing perspectives

Why Graphic Organizers?
  • Graphic organizers supply teachers with techniques that assist them with planning by providing tools for designing curriculum, implementing instruction, facilitating assessment, showing relationships between content and context, and transferring conceptual development from self to others (Merkley and Jefferies 2000/2001).
  • Graphic organizers allow teachers and students to acknowledge what is known, dispel misinformation and misconceptions, brainstorm new possibilities, predict outcomes, process information, share ideas, and see their outcomes in simple and easy-to-recall representations (Keppell 2001).

The following strategies involve selecting a visual tool to help students organize thoughts and construct meaning from the texts.

Pre-Rreading Graphic Organizers
The graphic organizers help to prepare the reader to comprehend the text by building or activating prior knowledge – concept vocabulary, preview and predict, analyze features, set the purpose for reading brainstorm ideas, and motivate interest (Vacca and Vacca, 2001).
  • Activates prior knowledge by providing students an opportunity to link preview and link new information with what is already known.
  • Enables students to predict what the reading will cover and generate questions for future inquiry.
  • Previews how the features of the text, graphs and charts, visuals, and other information contribute to understanding through reading.

During-Reading Graphic Organizers
The graphic organizers help learners to comprehend content information and construct concepts and relationships using the comprehension structure embedded in the text. When used during reading and discussion, during-reading graphic organizers provide a tool for taking notes; retaining information; checking, extending, and highlighting the learning as a formative evaluation and renewing interest (Vacca and Vacca, 2001). Teachers using these strategies help students:
  • Question to clarify and deepen understanding
  • Make connections to personal experiences, other texts, and outside knowledge of events and issues.
  • Infer from prior knowledge to make comprehend author’s intent when not explicitly stated.
  • Drawing and refining conclusions based on new information.
  • Summarizing what was read and reflect on meaning.
  • Create mental images or visualizations to experience the text more deeply.
  • Analyze text structure to support building meaning.
  • Synthesize texts by combining ideas and information within and across texts.

Post-Reading Graphic Organizers -

Additional Resources