Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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History/Social Studies

Big Ideas in Literacy


Welcome to the history/social studies content-specific units on disciplinary literacy. These next four units explore disciplinary literacy in history as an approach to teaching history and social studies. Unit 5 will introduce useful concepts and tools that promote disciplinary literacy. Units 6 and 7 will focus on specific reading and writing practices, respectively. Unit 8 will present various methods to support the integration of reading and writing practices into classroom instruction.

This unit introduces concepts and tools that can provide the foundation for planning and implementing instruction. These concepts and tools include:

  • Defining disciplinary literacy in history
  • Thinking like a historian
  • Using investigations and questions to frame inquiry
  • Developing background knowledge
  • Incorporating historical sources that are used to back up claims

Video and Reflection: Watch Reading and Writing in History to see an example of how reading and writing are brought together in the study of history. You may want to take notes on the questions below.

  • Before you watch: What do students read and write in your classroom? What are your learning goals for students with regard to reading and writing?
  • Watch the video: As you watch, notice how reading and writing in history/social studies are framed. What learning goals do the different classrooms appear to have for students?


Reading and Writing in History

Education experts Heather Lattimer and Chauncey Monte-Sano address the key elements of disciplinary literacy in history and social studies and discuss strategies for its integration into the classroom.

  • Reflect: How are these ideas similar to or different from your classroom teaching? What might be easy about implementing some of the ideas you saw? What might be difficult?