The current wave of school reform, with its emphasis on assessment of basic reading, writing, and math skills, has resulted in a diminished role for other core subjects. In the United States, the No Child Left Behind Act calls for the addition of assessments in science, but it seems that social studies will be a core discipline that is left behind. Already, time devoted to social studies instruction in elementary schools has been reduced—a development that has no small number of educators worried.
This article makes the case for preserving social studies instruction by focusing on the content literacy skills taught in reading and language arts. The authors question which skills are necessary for effective social studies learning. It is their belief that reading and comprehension strategies are central to the development of social studies concepts. The authors describe crosscurricular ways to use vocabulary development, writing, and story mapping so that language arts can help bridge the divide between social studies and the other core subjects emphasized in current school reform initiatives.