Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Local Workshop: Integrating Science and Social Studies into Literacy

My local district is really wonderful about providing staff development opportunities for teachers.  The classes are free for us and give us renewal credit.  I attended this workshop on July 11 from 8:30 to 3:30.  Here's what I learned.

Integration is a best practice. Various research studies say that a curricular unit must be seen to involve more than one discipline or subject. And the Common Core standards will require us to be using 50% or more informational text.  We need to integrate to get to that level.

Here is where I was a bit disappointed - the focus turned from integrating Social Studies and Science to teaching reading strategies to use with nonfiction text.  I'm ok with that because I learned a few new strategies - but it wasn't what I thought it would be.

New Learning #1 - Do more active reading with the students. 
This means do more things like jigsaws, buddy reading, scavenger hunts, and graphic organizers to guide the reading. Also things like anticipation guides, a "Tea Party," List-Sort-Label, Semantic Feature Analysis, and Semantic Webbing/Mapping.  These all require kids to be actively engaged in the text and discussion.

New Learning #2 - Do more with author's purpose.
The presenters had several large wall charts.  One I especially liked was for author's purpose.  My students have had trouble with this in the past.  The chart is used to track every piece of text that crosses the students' collective desk - a basal reading story, a read aloud story, a Science or SS textbook lesson.  Identify the purpose and add it to the chart.  This lets the students see commonalities and lets the teacher see areas that may need a boost.

New Learning #3 - Be more deliberate in the teaching of text structures (instead of just focusing on text features.)
We did some in-depth work with 5 different structures of text - description, sequence, compare/contrast, cause/effect, and problem/solution.  I now have some good examples and activities to use.  I'll definitely be adding this to my bag of tricks - I think I will start by using it in my nonfiction unit and then work it into fiction as it applies.

I also found some very useful websites.
Last, I was referred to some books and authors that sound excellent (now if I can just find them at the library!)
  • Nonfiction Matters by Stephanie Harvey
  • Laura Robb - she has written many books about vocabulary and some about teaching Science and Social Studies during Reading. I'm hoping this book will pick up where the workshop let me down.
Overall, a useful day. I wish it had been more focused on the actual nuts-and-bolts of integrating Science and Social Studies. However, I understand the limitations the presenters had - time, district expectations, testing requirements.

Here are a couple of sites that a quickie Google Search netted - these look promising!
Social Studies in Literacy Routines
SS Content Integration (not as good, works reading strategies into SS not vice versa)

How do you manage to teach it all? Do you integrate? What resources have helped you to be successful?


Shannon said...


I bookmarked the seeds discussion website to look at later. I have been learning about engaging students with the text through the things you mentioned(anticipation guides, etc.). Thanks for sharing about the author's purpose and text structure-I already do the text features but never really explicitly taught the text structures-just slap me! :) I am definitely going to do the extra thing with author's purpose! THANKS A BUNCH!


Beth said...

You are welcome. I am planning to use those tools too - although I need to go back and look at them again. Yesterday at the class I was certain I was teaching 4th grade again - and some of those strategies would be a stretch for those students. Now I've got a whole new world of possibilities opening up!

I had the same "ah-ha!" moment about text structures. I'm thinking about a focus wall - that might be a post later next week.

Do you use Twitter? I'm @MrsBfromNC!