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English Learner Collaborations

logo of the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies
English Learner Collaborations, Library of Congress TPS Consortium Member

Teaching the Language of Social Studies

Language-aware lessons support all students, especially Multilingual Learners who are still developing in English, access primary-source rich learning. Rules of Thumb

Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies TPS Project

Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies, funded by a grant from the Teaching with Primary Sources (TPS) program of the Library of Congress, has collaborated with the Collaborative for Educational Services and other organizations to increase multilingual learner access to the social studies. Read the project announcement post.


Lessons developed and piloted, and teaching strategies illustrated

The English Learner Collaborations project commissioned the development of lessons to illustrate applying English Language Development (ELD) teacher resources to History and Social Studies content.  

  • Language-Aware examples are written for classrooms that have one or more multilingual students, and support elementary and social studies teachers in seeing ways to support language learning while teaching content with primary sources.
  • ESL examples are written for classrooms where language acquisition is the focus, and support English Language Development specialists in using primary sources as they support language skill development. 


Coming soon: Document Based Questions (DBQs). Teachers in Hudson and Lynn, Massachusetts will be creating resources to show teachers how to adapt DBQ-type lessons to fully include English newcomers at all levels of proficiency over the spring and summer months of 2024.  Materials will be freely available and adaptable, with teaching examples and step-by-step instructions for scaffolding for early-proficient and later-proficient multilingual learners.


Suggested citation for language-aware lessons linked below: Audet, A. and Noyes, A. (2022). Suggested citation for ESL lessons linked below: Audet, A. and LaFrance, J. (2023). Title for all citations: Primary source lessons demonstrating practical applications of WIDA 2020 principles and resources for elementary, middle school, and high school social studies teaching. Extending the reach of primary sources: English Learner Collaborations project of the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies.

Newspaper advertisement from 1767 with woodcut of sailing ship advertising goods for sale
Language-aware examples: Colonial Daily Life (3rd Grade)
Lessons with a Colonial newspaper engage students in inquiry while supporting all students, including any Multilingual Learners, to develop skills in specifying, summarizing, and s
Parchment-colored printing of the first ten amendments of the US Constitution with ornamental printing.
Language-aware examples: Does the First Amendment say you can? (8th Grade)
8th graders explore free speech rights of students through analysis of Supreme Court decisions, answering text-dependent questions, scaffolds for active reading, and practice stati
Men in suits, some wearing a minister's clerical collar, carry picket signs reading "Segregation is Morally Wrong" in front of a Woolworths store.
Language-aware examples: Is it ever okay to break a law? (High School)
Supported exploration of written sources and contemporary art and photos, students explore principles of non-violent civil disobedience, and will be able to provide ex
a round metal pan with a curved lid with many round holes and wooden handle
ESL examples: Colonial Daily Life (3rd Grade)
Exploring timelines, reading dates aloud and constructing their own personal timeline helps multilingual learners to connect lives of colonial people of Massachusetts to their own
A Supreme Court decision, shown with heading, "Supreme Court of the United States" and first paragraph.
ESL examples: Can you always speak your mind freely in schools? (8th grade)
Students will practice with language at the discourse, sentence, and word/phrase level while exploring Supreme Court primary sources connected to free speech in schools.
At a tin water dispenser labeled "Colored" a young black man drinks from a paper cup.
ESL examples: Is it ever ok to break a law? (High School)
Although this series of lessons utilizes sources from the Civil Rights Movement, the topic of focus could be changed to better support student needs or to better align to your topi

Upcoming Workshops

Landmark College Institute for Research and Training - Summer Institute for Educators June 25-27, 2024 - Putney, Vermont  The program of the 3-day conference…
July 15 - 8:30am - 3pm - Collaborative for Educational Services, 97 Hawley Street, Northampton, Massachusetts. Register. This workshop is full. Email events@co…
Join DESE Civics Pathways Professional Learning The DESE Civics Pathways are an initiative of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Educat…