Social Studies

Social Studies Best Practices for Teaching ELLs

Unit and Lesson Planning Considerations

  • Consider small group projects with students grouped with similar cultural backgrounds, then try mixed backgrounds.

6th grade Geography Progressions.png

6th grade Social Studies Progression.png


Learning new words for Social Studies has these challenges for English Language Learners:

  • Specialized vocabulary (Tier 3 and 4) that include concrete and abstract concepts.
  • Topics often include geographic places with which students have no experience.


  • Many of our students who were born in other countries can be called up to add “realia” (real items) from their countries during appropriate lessons.
  • Words used in international trade and government are shared with (cognates of) languages recognized by our ELLs.

Teaching Resources

PBS Learning Media:¬†New York State & Local History and Government¬†— portal to history-related sites

Reading Resources

6th – 8th Grade

“Cherokee in the United States”
Lexile: 1090

“French-Native American Relations in the Great Lakes Region”
Lexile: 1360

“First Encounters of the Ho-Chunk Nation and the French”
Lexile: 950
This primary source is provided courtesy of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.