Boost ELL Achievement: 10 Strategies for Social Studies

Are you ready to create an inclusive classroom and ensure every student thrives? Here are 10 remarkable ELL instructional strategies designed for social studies. These strategies will engage and empower English language learners (ELLs). And create a vibrant and inclusive learning environment for all students.

Boost ELL Achievement: 10 Strategies for Social Studies Teachers

1. Visuals Speak Louder Than Words:

Do you know what’s a game-changer for ELLs?

Visual aids.

This ELL instructional strategy will make a huge difference for your students.

Maps, charts, graphs, and infographics visually represent the content. This helps students grasp complex concepts.

You can also use images to stimulate discussions, making the learning experience interactive.

For example, you can use the following visuals:

  • A map depicting the Silk Road
  • A graph showcasing the Industrial Revolution’s impact.
  • Pictures of ancient ruins or artifacts spark curiosity and start discussions.

2. Sentence Frames and Starters:

ELLs often struggle with verbal expression due to limited English proficiency. You can support their language development by providing sentence frames and starters. This will also boost their confidence.

Here are some sentence frames you can try:

  • “I agree/disagree because _____,”
  • “One thing I learned from this is ______.”
  • “In my opinion, this event affected society by _____,”
  • “One way this event connects to today is ______.”

These prompts serve as a linguistic scaffold, enabling ELLs to participate in conversations.

3. Cooperative Learning:

Collaborative activities allow ELLs to engage with their peers. This ELL instructional strategy helps support students as they practice English.

Mix ELLs with native English speakers to ensure that everyone has a chance to learn from one another. Remember, diversity breeds creativity!

4. Multimodal Instruction:

Like all students, ELLs have diverse learning styles. So, it’s important to incorporate many modes of instruction. You can combine verbal explanations, visual aids, and hands-on activities. Technology-based resources are great too!

Watching videos, listening to podcasts, or doing hands-on experiments, hit different learning needs.

For example, when studying World War II:

  • Show historical footage
  • Play speeches by leaders of that time
  • Assign a hands-on project where students create a war propaganda poster.

You’ll engage all students and reinforce understanding by providing various learning modes.

5. Contextualized Vocabulary Instruction:

Practicing vocabulary is one of my favorite ELL instructional strategies. Vocabulary plays a crucial role in comprehending social studies content. When you introduce new vocab, provide context:

  • You can do this by connecting it to real-life examples or historical events.
  • You can also create word walls with relevant terms accompanied by visual representations.

For example:

Explain “taxation without representation” by relating it to modern issues, such as where people have no say in how their taxes are used.

Encourage students to use the vocabulary in discussions, written work, and presentations. This will ensure deeper understanding and application.

Want more vocab ideas? Grab my free lesson bundle to get a template of the Vocabulary Concept Map!

6. Authentic Materials:

Bring the real world into your classroom! Use authentic materials such as news articles, realia, and cultural artifacts. These will expose ELLs to genuine language and diverse perspectives. These materials provide opportunities for deepening understanding, critical thinking, and language acquisition.

For example, when discussing the Civil Rights Movement:

  • Show videos of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches
  • Have students analyze primary sources like Rosa Parks’ arrest report.

Authentic resources bridge the gap between theory and reality. This fosters critical thinking and cultural understanding.

7. Scaffolding Reading & Writing Tasks:

Reading and writing can be particularly challenging for ELLs. To scaffold these skills, provide graphic organizers, sentence stems, and model texts. Break down complex texts into smaller, manageable chunks and provide guided practice. Encourage peer editing and offer constructive feedback to promote growth.

For example, when studying the Constitution, provide a graphic organizer. Then ask students to fill in the details and main ideas. Encourage peer editing and provide constructive feedback to promote growth and confidence.

8. Culturally Responsive Instruction:

Acknowledging and valuing students’ diverse backgrounds is essential in creating an inclusive classroom. Incorporate multicultural perspectives, diverse historical narratives, and culturally relevant resources.

For example, when studying ancient civilizations, explore contributions from different cultures like the

  • Indus Valley
  • Mayans,
  • Ancient China.
  • Pre-colonial Africa

By embracing diverse perspectives, you validate ELLs’ identities. You also create a richer learning environment for all students.

9. Real-World Connections:

Another helpful ell instructional strategy is helping ELLs make real-world connections.

You can do this by engaging them in discussions about current events that link to historical themes.

Here are some examples

  • When studying the Great Depression, discuss how economic recessions affect society today.
  • Encourage students to analyze recent political events
  • Draw connections to historical movements like suffrage or the Civil Rights Movement.

By making these connections, you foster critical thinking. You also show the relevance of social studies in their lives.

10. Interactive Field Trips:

Expand your classroom beyond its walls! Organize interactive field trips or virtual tours. Good places to check out are historical sites, museums, or cultural exhibitions.

Here are some ideas:

  • Take your students on a virtual pyramids tour or a museum exhibition on Egyptian artifacts.
  • Have them explore the Palace of Versailles and complete a webquest activity.

These experiences allow ELLs to engage with history firsthand and make lasting connections.

Using these 10 ELL instructional strategies in your social studies classroom creates an environment where all students can flourish. From using visuals and sentence frames to promoting cooperative learning and real-world connections, each strategy empowers ELLs to participate confidently, develop language skills, and deepen their historical understanding.

Don’t forget to Grab my 5 Foolproof Strategies to Support ELs in Your Social Studies Classes lesson bundle. It’s chock full of some of the strategies discussed in this post.

Did you enjoy this post? Check out my post, 3 Effective SIOP Methods To Teach The Cold War In U.S. History, for more ideas!

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