Abstract 7-Volume 7, Number 3, Winter 2012

Visualizing Social Studies Literacy: Teaching Content and Skills to English Language Learners

Bárbara C. Cruz

Stephen J. Thornton

University of South Florida



Because of its conceptually dense character, social studies can be difficult to learn. Educators often struggle to find ways to teach higher-order thinking and make academic language and concepts comprehensible for English language learners (ELLs). Visuals may be the key to effective social studies instruction for this student population.  Images can be located and obtained easily through the Internet, meshing well with the learning styles of today’s adolescents.  This article presents some of the most promising approaches—including historical photographs, paintings and illustrations, maps, propaganda posters, and graphic organizers—that can be used with learners at all levels of language proficiency.


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