Literature in the Social Studies, the Pupil, and the Teacher

By Ediger, Marlow | Journal of Instructional Psychology, June 2012 | Go to article overview

Literature in the Social Studies, the Pupil, and the Teacher


Ediger, Marlow, Journal of Instructional Psychology


Pupils need to experience a variety of kinds of literature in the social studies, as it relates to the ongoing unit of study. This is necessary in order that individual differences are provided for in the classroom. Learners differ from each other in interests, purposes, and abilities in reading. Background information for achievement in the ensuing unit must be possessed by each pupil so that new learnings may be understood. Reading social studies subject matter should taught so that it is beneficial to pupils across the curriculum. Thus, useful content and skills in reading transfer to other subject matter areas. Reading is an important skill to emphasize in the curriculum.

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Developing Abilities in Reading Social Studies Content

Ausubel (1958) stressed the saliency of pupils possessing background subject matter to benefit from the new content to be taught. Thus, he advocated the use of advanced organizers. Directly related to the ensuing literary content, the advance organizer provided brief background information to prepare learners for comprehending new subject matter. This would sequence new subject matter with the old and improve pupil understanding of major facts, concepts, and generalizations. Ausubel believed that pupils having adequate background information before pursuing new knowledge was a major factor in learning. A seamless preparation to understand the ensuing is necessary and makes for quality teaching.

Second, learners must attach meaning to ongoing reading experiences. Literature becomes meaningless unless it possesses depth and breadth of understanding. A major problem in reading might well relate to vocabulary difficulties. If pupils do not attach meaning to vocabulary contained in the reading selection, the pupil might be turned off from the selection being read. Here, the literature teacher has the responsibilities of assisting pupils in vocabulary development. Thus, in silent reading, unknown words may be pronounced correctly immediately as the learner raises his/her hand for assistance. As the pupil continues silent reading, clarity of word meaning may possess meaning. The learner may also ask the teacher for word meanings in silent reading as the need arises. Fluency in reading is salient! The glossary and appropriate grade level dictionary are additional resources (See Tichman, 2008).

Third, when using the basal textbook, the teacher may print the words neatly for all to see on the chalkboard/white board. The teacher points to each word as it is being pronounced clearly and correctly. The word should also be used in a meaningful sentence. This total procedure might well provide background information for reading. A purpose or purposes may be identified in terms of questions, printed on the chalk/white board, to answer in the ensuing reading activity. Pupils as well as the teacher need to choose these questions. As a follow up experience, pupils should discuss subject matter read. Here, critical and creative reading, as well as problem solving might well be emphasized. Pupil comprehension must be stressed.

Fourth, pupils might need assistance in word recognition. There can be several procedures used here, such as pronouncing the word immediately when a learner raises his/her hand when reading and asking for help. Context clues is a good procedure, too, in that a pupil who hesitates on an unknown word is asked to give one which makes sense in relationship to the rest of the words in the sentence. If this is not adequate, the involved pupil needs to look also at the beginning letter, generally a consonant, to sound out the word. Sounding out words may be used to identify unknown words as the need arises as well as when sound/symbol relationships are consistent. Phonics is merely a tool to identify unknown words in reading; making sense of sentences in reading comprehension is salient and not phonic learning for its own sake (Ediger and Rao, 2011).

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