Do you integrate history into your reading small groups? You should! In this post are five reasons you should be using history content in your guided reading groups.
Integrate History for Time
Let’s be honest, time is the number one valuable reason to integrate social studies. There is no way around it. We are already stretched to our limits in the classroom. If you don’t integrate content it is just about impossible to fit it all in.
By including history in your small groups, you ensure your standards in two different content areas are being covered. This means you are able to fit in more!
It’s no secret that history is often pushed to the back burner, if not off the stove completely. By integrating the content, you are helping your students to get a fuller picture of the curriculum.
Social Studies Content Builds Comprehension
It’s no secret, social studies content builds comprehension not only in social studies but across content areas. I would argue social studies content is possibly the best way to build reading comprehension. This includes strategies like summarization, paraphrasing, synthesizing, and more.
Did you notice how high on Bloom’s Taxonomy all of those verbs are? I am not saying social studies content is the only way to achieve these goals. I do think it is the best way.
Integrate History to Practice Critical Thinking
Going along with my previous statement on building comprehension, social studies content also allows students to practice critical thinking.
What better time and place is there for practicing critical thinking skills than in a small group? The small group provides students with the safety to take risks and share their thinking.
History Topics Are High Interest
The actual content of social studies is fascinating, and our students think so too! You can harness your students’ excitement for the topics of history all while working on reading and writing skills. This means even our most reluctant readers and writers will have some buy-in to work with the content.
To make these high-interest topics more readily available, I have a line of social studies passages with questions. These passages are designed with both content and comprehension questions. They can be used in small groups, independently, or in a variety of other environments.
Integrate History to Help with Misconceptions
Let’s be honest. History topics can be really hard. When you bring social studies content into your small reading group you then have the opportunity to clarify any misconceptions. This immediate feedback on misconceptions means they are not able to take root and grow. This is a powerful tool that allows you to practice dialogue and questioning in a safe, small group, environment.
Of course, there will be topics that you likely won’t feel comfortable discussing. With the right resources, you can be prepared to guide your students in an unbiased way through the content.
One of my favorite resources for tackling tough history is Teaching Tolerance – now Learning for Justice.
Wrapping it all up, integrating history into small groups has a plethora of advantages including:
– saving time
– building comprehension across content areas
– providing a safe space for discussion and critical thinking
– including high-interest topics
– addressing misconceptions
I encourage you to begin, or continue to, integrate history in your small group reading time throughout the school year!