Monday, March 30, 2020

Speaking Up for Science and Social Studies!

At one time, it was routine to integrate ELA lessons and content-area instruction. Then Congressed passed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and everything changed.

Suddenly, math and ELA instruction were prioritized, and students started taking standardized tests to track their progress. Because the school day is only so long, increasing the time devoted to math and ELA meant reducing the time for other subjects, most notably science and social studies.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and—big surprise—young adults don’t have the science and social studies knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the workplace or as citizens. 

Some educators have been expressing their concern for years. Recently, one of them—Nell K. Duke, a highly-regarded professor in literacy, language, and culture at the University of Michigan—decided to do something tangible to help raise awareness. She made a YouTube video, which I encourage you to watch.

Like Dr. Duke, I think it’s high time to develop lessons that teach science and ELA simultaneously. Bonus point if you can sneak in some math or social studies too. To find lessons that can get you started, I recommend Perfect Pairs: Using Fiction and Nonfiction Picture Books to Teach Life Science, which aligns with state ELA standards as well as the Next Generation Science Standards.There’s one volume specifically for grades K-2, and a second volume for grades 3-5. You can also find all the children’s books recommended in Perfect Pairs on my pinterest boards. I hope you find these resources useful.

And for even more ideas, hop on over LitLinks, a blog maintained by author Patricia Newman, winner of the Sibert Honor for Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators that Saved an Ecosystem.

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