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Working Together

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Life isn’t as compartmentalized as school is.  In almost any given job, your responsibilities aren’t divided into math, English, science, and social studies.  So although I teach English, I try to connect it with other subject areas.

Several of my state standards in seventh grade English deal with identifying an author’s perspective, the evidence an author provides, and any bias the author may have.  I got some articles from the science teacher about invasive species (both plant and animal), and we read those in English and worked on identifying perspective, evidence, and bias.  We talked about how bias affects work in science (if a scientist’s measurements are faulty but they support his or her opinion so the scientist publishes them anyway, that’s bias) and history (“What was the cause of the Civil War?” I asked.  “Slavery!” the students all replied.  “Aha!  That’s a Northern perspective.  A Southerner would say it was about states’ rights.”)

The social studies teacher had his eighth graders do some research about the French and Indian War.  They created little figures dressed up the way the soldiers or Indians would have dressed, and they had note cards showing the evidence of why they dressed the figures that way.  I asked if he was requiring students to cite their sources in any particular way.  He said he was not for this project.  “Perfect!”  I said.  “I will!”  So I told them that while they did the research for social studies, they would turn in a Works Cited page for me.  They were not very happy about it, but I explained they’re still doing only one project, but now they get to do it for two classes.  That seemed to placate them a little.

Connecting with math is a lot harder for me as an English teacher, but I do my best in connecting with science and social studies.  In a few weeks, my seventh graders will be doing research on types of energy (connecting with science) and my eighth graders will be reading Animal Farm and researching the history of government (including ideas by Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, and Locke), types of government (oligarchy, autocracy, democracy), the Constitution of the United States and its amendments (all connecting, of course, with social studies.)

Because students have to learn that it all connects.

Plus, if I’m teaching something and it’s being reinforced in another class, it makes my life a little easier.

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About Karen Koch

I like the old-fashioned lifestyle. All this new-fangled stuff baffles me sometimes. I cherish living out in the country, raising chickens and rabbits, planting fruit trees, and enjoying a slow life filled with beautiful words and ideas. I don't always achieve a slow life. I teach middle school English and manage a little burgeoning farm with my husband, and somewhere in the midst of that, I try to find time for writing, running, knitting, reading, and playing the ukulele. And sometimes, I actually succeed.

2 responses »

  1. Oh, students who are writing papers are always doing math! “OK, the teacher said that I have to have 300 words. . .I only have 292 to go. . .now I only have 285 to go. . .”

    Reply
  2. LOL at Michelle – that’s true! And back in the day when I had to TYPE my papers I definitely used math to figure out where to put the footnotes. Ha!

    I love the way you’re teaching these students! It’s probably helping them by having the message reinforced. That’s what works for me when I’m learning something – coming at it from different angles means I might actually remember it!

    Reply

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