Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Flying High!

I've been spending some time recently in a district where year one of curriculum mapping did not go as well as planned. Probably lots of reasons behind it - and ones we are all familiar with - but one thing that stood out when the teachers talked was the need to have reading and writing integrated across all curriculum areas. What would that look like in a curriculum map?

I am not sure I have the right answer - if there even is one. Having worked on ELA maps in my own district, they are not easy nor are they ever done. And integrating reading and writing skills can be a complex task. Perhaps it is my bias - perhaps my background - but I still find social studies the easiest path to take.

For example - Orville and Wilbur Wright. Airlines have been in the news lately - with the high cost of fuel, cancelled flights, technology delays, etc. And many more kids are flying these days than when I was younger (Case in point- my nieces are soon to fly to Aruba for their third time and they are six and four years old!!) So it seems a natural connection to read about the famous flying brothers.

In New York State - this could happen at several points in the elementary social studies curriculum as we talk about transportation, our communities and other communities, world communities, etc. etc. In searching, I found this interesting book about the history of flight written from the perspective of animal characters.

I haven't read it - but it is a RAFT model. The story of the first flight is told through the eyes of the animal characters (ROLE), the AUDIENCE is young children of today, the FORMAT is a children's story, and the TOPIC of course, is that historic day in 1903 that "made the world a forever smaller place."

In addition to working on writing skills, this particular writing piece measures student comprehension of material as they are asked not to regurgitate it, but to synthesize it. RAFTs were my favorite thing to do with students - it helped them to pull apart NYS writing prompts as well as sneaking a little of that middle school creativity into the content. Win-win!!

Now imagine RAFTs from another perspective - rather than telling the story of the first flight from the point of view of someone there - what if Orville and Wilbur were to view this video:

Students could then write from the perspective of Orville and Wilbur demonstrating how their invention has changed the world. Or about how the world and technology has changed since 1903. The possibilities - seemingly like flights! - are endless!!

Thanks to think:lab for the video link!!

1 comment:

Karen said...

I too believe Social Studies is the easiest place to integrate ELA. I love the lesson you created to show you thoughts. What an awesome video. I cant wait to use this in my class.

I have been integrating SS and ELA in my classroom. Geography, Middle Ages, and WWII are all integrated units in my classroom. My problem however lies in being "committed" to the Reading text (Scott Forsman), "Using it with FIDELITY!!" I feel the best use of my time (since we all have so little of it) is to integrate across curriculum areas. I think I can be trusted to use sound pedagogy and reading/writing/vocabulary/grammar strategies in order to create critical readers and writers and passers of the blessed test. Where do we draw the line? When is acceptable for a teacher to not conform, what do we use to make this decision...test scores, teacher expertise, assessments aligned with the "text book"?

At least your district is looking at the possibility...just make sure it fits in with the NCLB/Reading First dogma :(