Teachers' Perceptions of Integrating Social Studies Text During Reading - Language Arts Instruction
In a large urban school system located in a metropolitan city in the southeastern United States, third- and fifth-grade minority students in Title I elementary schools are performing below proficiency in social studies on the statewide standardized assessments. The lack of exposure to the social studies curriculum continues to hinder minority students from successfully comprehending complex informational text, which is important to their success in the newly adopted Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the problem teachers faced with an insufficient amount of time for teaching social studies content and the recent requirement to increase student exposure to informational text. The research used Lev Vygotsky's theory of social constructivism to provide a framework for the methods used in this paper. To address these problems, this study explored two third-grade and two fifth-grade language arts teachers' perceptions of integrating social studies text during their reading-language arts block. Further, the study observed teachers as they integrated social studies text to teach reading. Data for this case study were compiled from interviews, observations, and focus group discussions. The data were reviewed and coded to identify major themes and were then analyzed to generalize data findings. Teachers reported integrating social studies text afforded them the opportunity to maximize instructional time, teach the CCSS, and expose students to more informational text. Implications for positive social change include enabling teachers to identify the benefits of integrating social studies text during reading-language arts instruction and enabling minority students to increase their scores on the statewide social studies assessment.