Are your students having trouble grasping certain social studies concepts and topics? Set them up for success by using academic vocabulary and graphic organizers. Or engage their curiosity with historical fiction and compelling biographies. You’ll go down in history and get your students’ vote of confidence when you try these noteworthy techniques and ideas.

BELL RINGERS: Today In History - Powerpoint Presentation & Weekly Activity

Presto Plans explains,”Teachers sometimes fall into the trap of assuming that important historical events of influential figures are common knowledge for students. To bridge the gap, I start my social studies classes with “Today In History” bell ringers. There’s one for every date in the year and by the end of the year, students gain so much knowledge about important world events and influential people.”


World War II“World War II can be a challenge for students to comprehend,” says History in Focus. “I’ve recently added a World War II 46-page worksheet packet to my store that includes contextual questions, graphs, timelines, and maps, as well as teacher answer pages. The supportive and visually appealing material can be used as homework, interactive notebook pages, or as guidelines for class discussion reinforcement.

To support this unit, I’ve also created a World War II Word Wall. Vocabulary, historical events, and concepts can be a challenge for many students. This attractive 28-page set combines colorful graphics with photographs that I’ve carefully researched in historical archives.”


ocial Studies Classroom Posters for Bulletin Board or Word Wall SetFrom Michele Luck’s Social Studies: “I created a poster set to help students learn and remember how to apply concepts and terminology in the social studies classroom and how to use graphical organizers to record, compare, contrast, timeline, and more. These skills are fundamental for learning and applying any topic in the social studies classroom. Take a look: Social Studies Classroom Posters for Bulletin Board or Word Wall Set.”


American Revolution - Both Sides - Lesson Plan & Opinion Writing PromptCatch the Buzz says, “One thing that can be difficult for students to grasp is that there are ‘two sides’ (or more!) to every story in history. I love using picture books to teach concepts to my students. Seriously! Picture books have a tendency to get to the heart of the matter quickly and highlight the most important aspects of a topic. Plus, secondary students are usually pretty spellbound while being read to.

The book, George vs. George: The American Revolution as Seen From Both Sides (by Rosalyn Schanzer) is one of my favorite books to use in my teaching. Students learn about (or are reminded of) events leading up to — and through — the American Revolution. Additionally, they learn the similarities and differences between the men, George Washington and King George III.

I created a lesson plan (for up to 14 days!) that includes comparing the British and American perspectives of the events of that time period. Additionally, students will compare and contrast King George III and George Washington. Finally, the lesson culminates with the students writing an opinion essay (prompt included).

Teaching both sides of historical events can be challenging, but with the right tools, it’s not as tough! Here’s the complete resource: American Revolution – Both Sides – Lesson Plan & Opinion Writing Prompt.”


A LONG WALK TO WATER Novel StudyArlene Manemann explains, “The tough thing about teaching history is for the teachers and students both to remember that history is the story of people — real people. It’s not just facts and names, but the written or oral tale of what happened. To make this become more real to students, I like historical novels, both biographical and fiction. The Diary of Anne Frank would be one example.

Recently, I came upon the biographical novel A Long Walk to Water. This novel blends the recent civil war in Sudan, the desperate conditions in which the people there live (especially when needing water to drink), and the experiences of a real person as he dealt with horrendous circumstances that eventually brought him to the United States. And then the completion of the circle as he returned to his homeland. Students cannot help but understand the human face of conflict with stories like these. Here’s my unit on that novel: A LONG WALK TO WATER Novel Study.”

And for all historical fiction novels, I created this resource. Students often ask, “Can we do this again?”


Nonfiction Note-Taking“In general, students have a difficult time taking notes, and this is especially true of content-dense history textbooks,” says Apples and Bananas. “Our non-fiction note-taking templates are applicable to any social studies class and come with a two-page handout on “How to Take Notes From a Lecture” and “How to Take Notes from a Text.” Full of tips and tricks, we think you’ll find them incredibly useful.”


The Great Depression“My students struggle with multiple perspectives,” says History and Psychology. “So, I try to emphasize project-based learning and simulations in order to drive this point home. Here’s one of my favorites from U.S. History: The Great Depression Group Activity.”


Persian and Peloponnesian Wars Chart“My students often got their facts mixed up about the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars,” says History Gal. “I created this graphic organizer to assist them, and it helped tremendously! Take a look: Persian and Peloponnesian Wars Chart.”

For our ELA, math, and science teachers, we have some more “tough concepts” posts. Take a look!

Tough ELA Concepts? TpT Teacher-Authors to the Rescue!
Tough Math Concepts? TpT Teacher-Authors to the Rescue!
Tough Science Concepts? TpT Teacher-Authors to the Rescue!