Teach History In The Literacy Hour

History is rife with everything needed to teach in literacy hour.

Teaching literacy is most effective when taught in content areas classes because students develop an understanding for using literacy apart from just the language arts block. History is rife with reading and writing opportunities. Teaching it in literacy block can be especially potent and easily accomplished when integrated with extended reading and writing activities. Students don’t just improve their knowledge of history, they become better readers and writers too.


1. Select a nonfiction text to teach from, such as from a history text or article about a historical event like World War II. Make sure it is on the reading level the students are reading at, or within one grade above or below.

2. Select a fiction text to teach from that supports the same subject matter as the nonfiction text, such as Dorothy Hoobler’s “The 1940s Secrets” or Ida Vos’s “Anna is Still Here” to support teaching of the Holocaust.

3. Create or copy a Venn diagram, a double-bubbled circle that intersects in the middle. Label the top of each circle with the title of each book, leaving the center without a title. Students will place information specific to each book in the circle beneath its title, and information that is the same or in agreement among them in the center where the bubbles intersect.

4. Introduce students to the Venn diagram. Tell them that they’ll be reading from two different sources on the same subject, one true (nonfiction) and the other not true (fiction). When finished reading each, they’ll compare the two using the Venn diagram by placing different information beneath the book’s title, and the same information where the circles intersect in the middle.

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5. Instruct students to read the nonfiction text and stop about every few paragraphs (or two pages depending on how long the reading is) to fill in factual and high-interest information taken from each reading on a note pad.

6. Instruct students to read the fiction text in the same manner and write down information this time directly onto the Venn diagram. Tell them to write any factual information that supports the nonfiction text in the center where the circles intersect and any new information on the side labeled with its title.

7. Compare and contrast the two readings during a class discussion on how the two readings support one another historically. Discuss information that is different due to different perspectives.