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Academic Vocabulary for Secondary Social Studies

Throughout the country, many students are coming into the secondary grades without any prior exposure to Social Studies content, especially the academic vocabulary needed for greater understanding of the concepts we hope to help our students master.  This academic vocabulary is vital for depth of learning in the History and Geography classroom, and can help students be successful in other areas as well.

Tips and tools for teaching academic vocabulary in the secondary Social Studies classroom.

How can you teach this academic vocabulary without taking time from the content vocabulary you need to address with each unit?  You can't!  But the reality is simple: Without the foundation being firmly set, the structure you attempt to build will only crumble in the end.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions for building academic vocabulary in your classroom:
  1. Teach a term a day. Begin each class with a bellringer tied to an academic term.  Have students define the term, learn its connotations, and investigate it's relevance for your current unit.  
  2. Dedicate a day a week to vocabulary learning.  Pair students for vocabulary scavenger hunts or have students work on word walls to enhance terminology strength.
  3. Take a day a month to practice with academic vocabulary task cards or skills activities.  Set students up in small groups to review terms and apply them to current units of study.
  4. Start each unit with an Academic Vocabulary round up!  As students create their unit cover page for their Interactive Notebooks, have them add the relevant terms and their unit specific definitions.
  5. Allow students to create academic vocabulary posters for room decor.  Hang the posters around the room for reference in every unit and to help students with recall on every assessment!
Finally, practice the use of academic vocabulary every day in your teaching.  Use terminology that is BEYOND your students level to challenge them and to build their term base as they grow and learn.  Words should not be feared, they should be appreciated.  Teach your students this appreciation through your own use every day!
Tips and tools for teaching academic vocabulary in the secondary Social Studies classroom.
Start with Academic Vocabulary Graphic Organizers!  Add to any student notebook!
Visit my TpT Store for great vocabulary tools, including Graphic Organizers, Games, and More!

Happy Teaching!