In my first years of teaching, I was lucky enough to work with an amazing social studies department which led to the development of a summer writing project. SOLs had just begun and we realized how difficult standardized tests, written and given in English, were for language learners. The project goal was to create standards aligned content that focused on vocabulary and visuals for English language learners and their teachers in a general education or ELL classroom.
World History and Geography Concepts - drafted world history curriculum adapted for ELL students with a team of Fairfax County teachers.
Turn your classroom into the Silk Road! It takes some advanced planning and trading card creation. Plan for your classroom to be a little noisy and a little chaotic...it's ok. Students choose shopkeepers and traders. Cards are marked on exchanges - a product, an invention, a religion, and a geographic feature. They trade until their chart is complete - but be careful! Some cards might let you know you've been robbed or contracted the Black Plague and points are deducted from your score.
One thing I discovered post-Covid was a serious lack of map skills among my 9th graders. That showed up on their standardized tests too (who could, by the way, take some map drawing lessons from my students). Again, I'm a proponent of "learn by doing" so we hand drew maps. Kids could use textbook maps or Google maps, and they could trace if they wanted to as well. As long as they were drawing the map and locating the areas of the world, cities, rivers we had studied during the first quarter.
I love Socratic Seminars! Depending on the grade and experience level, a complete seminar may require some prep work, breaking down primary source readings and information way before the seminar discussion begins. Also depending on the class dynamics, you may need to choose the Fishbowl Method vs. traditional discussion circle. I found for 9th grade, the practice of footbinding led to great discussions as we studied Tang and Song China. There are a lot of primary source documents online now to expand the reading list.