5 Tips for Working with ELL’s in Social Studies

Social Studies is so important for all of our students – but our ELL students can often struggle with the amount of content and vocabulary that make up our Social Studies courses.  Here are five tips for working with ELL students in your history class.

Challenge students with an anno-lighting strategy – from my Ratification of the Constitution lesson. 



Promote Literacy in Your Classroom –
Scaffold reading instruction by planning for the 3 stages of reading.
Preview reading with images and other strategies that activate schema.
Use During Reading like PAT (Pay Attention To…) Lists and Graphic Organizers
Allow students to process their learning with a language rich After Reading activity.
Provide students opportunities to write as well as speak their responses to questions.

Word Wall from my Industrial Revolution lesson.


Use Word Walls –
Display vocabulary terms with a picture and definition for each term.
Displaying content vocabulary in an area they can always refer to will greatly assist their understanding of text.
Some teachers categorize the word wall to help them organize the content presented.
Besides the content vocabulary, are there any other academic terms that require instruction? Examples include: inference, drawing conclusions, achieve, etc.
Students debate the Causes of the Civil War


Allow your students opportunities to talk with Structured Discussion-
Plan for structured discussions every day! Place students into groups of two or three and provide sentence stems to facilitate discussion using both content and academic terms.
Structured discussions allow students to practice using the correct language in a safe and small environment.
Students can share by writing and then reading their responses to the whole group.

Create an interactive anchor chart following your debate on the Ratification of the Constitution. 

Display anchor charts all year long –
Anchor charts are designed to support ELL students by providing them an “always present” graphic organizer.
Hang them in your room during a unit, and pull them out again right before a benchmark or STAAR test.
Put them in Interactive Student Notebooks for a quick review.
Combine vocabulary and images if possible.
Review the characteristics of the 13 Colonies with images


Play games with your students –
Use a variety of games to review content throughout the unit – not just at the end.
All games should allow students time to talk and process the information.
Use games that focus on processing standards.
Avoid “Fill in the Blank” worksheets or simple Q&A review sheets.

Are you interested in learning more? Book a professional development session for your district today!

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