Differentiated Instructional Strategies for Social Studies

Instructor: Sarah Mills

Sarah is an educational freelance writer and has taught English and ESL in grades k-12 and college. She has a master's degree in both Literacy and TESOL.

In this lesson, teachers will learn some methods for differentiating instruction for students in social studies class. The strategies presented are applicable to a variety of age and grade levels, and they can be adapted to meet the needs of all learners.

Reasons for Differentiation

A typical social studies class can be challenging for students with varied learning needs. Listening to lectures, memorizing dates, and conceptualizing historical events and timelines can seem overwhelming. Differentiating your instruction will help ensure that you are able to meet the various needs of all learners and provide them with equitable access to the curriculum.

Differentiated instruction requires changing content, delivery, and assessment methods based on students' needs while maintaining the same standards and objectives for all learners. Let's look at some specific strategies that you can use to differentiate instruction in your social studies classroom.

Flexible Grouping

One simple way to provide differentiated instruction is to allow flexible grouping in your classroom. Flexible grouping allows students to work with their classmates in group structures that work best for them. For one assignment, a student might do best in a mixed-ability group so that each student can contribute his or her individual strengths. On another assignment, that same student might work best in a homogeneous group structure. Students' needs are constantly changing depending on several factors, and flexible grouping takes that into account.

There are many types of grouping strategies, including:

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