How to Read Social Studies
Target Reading Skills
The Target Reading Skills introduced on this page will help you understand the words and ideas in your textbook. Each chapter contains several of these strategies, and each strategy is pared with a graphic organizer. The graphic organizers help you visualize and organize the content you are reading. In the margins of your textbook, you will find the Target Reading Skill side notes that will help you use the reading skill and the graphic organizer while you read the text. Good readers develop a bank of reading strategies. Then, they draw on the particular strategies that will help them understand what they are saying.
Reading actively will help you remember what you have read. The paragraphs below describe several ways to read actively. In addition, preparing an outline or using a chart, table, or concept web can help focus your reading.
1. Set a Purpose
When you set a purpose for reading, you give yourself a focus. Before you read a section, study the objectives and look at headings and visuals to see what the section is about.
Making predictions helps you remember what you read. After studying the objectives, headings, and visuals, predict what the text might discuss.
3. Ask Questions
Before you read a section, write down one or two questions that will help you understand remember something important in the section. Read to answer your questions.
4. Use Prior Knowledge
Your prior knowledge is what you already know about a topic before you read. Building on what you already know helps you learn new information.
Clarifying meaning helps you understand what you have read. Reread difficult passages. Paraphrase, or restate in your own words, what those passages mean. Summarize, or state in the correct order, the main points you have read. Outlining and filling in charts, tables, or concept webs can help to clarify meaning.
It is impossible to remember every detail that you read. Good readers therefore identify the main idea in every paragraph or section. The main is the most important point in a passage. Main ideas are supported by details that add more information. Use outlines and concept webs to help you identify main ideas and supporting details.
Comparison and Contrast
Comparing and contrasting can help you sort and analyze information. When you compare, you examine the similarities between things. When you contrast, you look at the differences. A Venn diagram is a good tool for comparing and contrasting people, places, events or ideas.
A sequence is the order in which a series of events occurs. Nothing the sequence of important events can help you understand and remember the events. You can track the oder of events by making a flowchart. Write the first event, which sets the other events in motion, in the first box. Then, write each additional event in a box. Use arrows to show how one event leads to the next.
Cause and Effect
Determining causes and effects helps you understand relationships among situations or events. A cause makes something happen. An effect is what happens. Remember that there can be more than one cause for an event and more than one effect. Fill in a cause-and-effect chart to help you understand how causes lead to events and how effects are the results of events.