Differentiation in Social Studies

Do you notice that most math and ELA curriculums come with ready-to-go options for differentiation, but the vast majority of social studies curriculums don’t? I was always bothered by this because, with the amount of reading and note taking involved, differentiation in social studies is SO important! I want to share a few tips for how I differentiate for students in social studies without hours of prep being involved!

Have Your Students Pre-Read the Lessons

Pre-reading is such a powerful tool when it comes to social studies instruction. I always tried to make time for my students with accommodations to pre-read the social studies lesson the day before of the day of our lesson. If you have super supportive parents who are willing to pre-read the night before, you can send them the page numbers ahead of time so they can do a quick read-through with their kiddo the night before the lesson. If that isn’t an option for you, parent volunteers are a great resource! I was often using parent volunteers to pull students into the hallway to pre-read social studies lessons, or to reread after the lesson if necessary!

Provide Scaffolded Notes

This is the most time-consuming, yet effective, way to differentiate social studies instruction. Students who struggle with reading, writing, or focus in the classroom can find note taking to be extremely stressful and discouraging. Struggling to keep up with the pace of their peers, or following along with notes that are projected on the board, can be a huge challenge for some kiddos. That’s why I like to provide scaffolded versions of the notes for my students with accommodations, or those who simply need a bit more support. Take a look below to see the difference between the note taking pages I give my more independent learners and the scaffolded note taking pages that I give to students with accommodations or individual learning needs:

Bring Social Studies into your Reading and Writing Blocks

We all know that the key to retention is repetition, repetition, repetition. If Social Studies only takes up 30 minutes of your school day, it can be very difficult for students to retain the concepts they’re learning. The best way to ensure retention is to bring Social Studies into your reading and writing blocks! I like to do this through a variety of ways:

Read novels in Guided Reading or Read Aloud that relate to Social Studies topics (I LOVE George Washington’s Socks for learning about the Revolutionary War!)

Differentiation in Social Studies can be challenging, but there are ways to do it! Your students will thank you for taking the extra steps to help them master the concepts! To save yourself some time (which all teachers could use), you can browse some resources that are differentiated for you below!

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