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One of the things I have found that students struggle with are simple content related vocabulary. And more specifically, its words like: Economic, Political, Religious, Cultural, Processes, Territorial, and Status/Role.
These are words integral to the Social Studies discipline and if the student does not know what qualifies as information for those words, they really cannot:
1: Take proper notes [i.e. you ask students to describe the economy of Spain during the reign of Phillip II or ask them to describe what was culturally borrowed from China by Japan]
2: Answer questions on tests that use them [i.e. What the is the political effect of the Battle of Trafalgar? or What were the economic effects of WWI?]
Therefore, I started doing this activity with my students at the start of each year, and it becomes a cheatsheet they can always refer to during tests/homework. I give each student a copy of the empty table, and I asked them to share what types of information would fall under each category, so when they are taking notes on their own and come across something that seems important, they can determine where it best falls.
Another way I use this is by using it as my word wall categories...everytime I assign vocab words to the students at the start of a unit, we go over them and I ask students to share with me their definitions and they also have to mention to me which category does it best fall under and I place it under that wall.
[ex: lord/noble falls under status/role, Reformation falls under religious, industrialization falls under process]
Included is the empty table for the kids and an answer key that includes all the answers to each category.