Teaching literacy as an integral part of social studies is important not only because it aids students in understanding discipline-specific content, but also because the same literacy techniques used to come to grips with complex and challenging texts are also essential for active, engaged, and informed citizenship.
In today's media-saturated environment, the ability to think critically, contextualize, analyze, and interpret is critical to successfully parsing the 24-hour flood of information that stems from an ever increasing range of sources, is of varying levels of veracity and is in almost all cases biased one way or the other. The future citizens that are our students must be given a "toolbox" of literacy techniques and taught when and how to apply them so that they can translate this flood of information into meaningful, actionable data and assert a greater level of control over their lives and society.
Integrated literacy development in the social studies classroom is of particular importance to English Language Learners. Integrated literacy instruction supports ELs' continued second language development while ensuring that their acquisition of content knowledge keeps pace with that of their native English-speaking classmates. Literacy development also instills confidence in ELs as they tackle increasingly complex reading and writing and engage in academic discourse with their classmates.