Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Cross-curricular Learning at the Junior Level

Noting the similarities between the Ontario learning documents for the Junior Division allows teachers to create cross-curricular lessons. Cross-curricular lessons have enormous benefits for student learning as students will be able to make connections between the different subjects. For example, in the math curriculum document it states that “literacy skills can play an important role in student success in mathematics”. Explanations of reasoning when solving math problems could integrate aspects of the language arts curriculum.

In the science learning document, the Understanding Structures and Mechanisms unit even states that “connections can be made to the Grade 4 social studies topic Heritage and Citizenship: Medieval Times”. Pulleys and gears have been used for a long time and the class could build a medieval times model of a pulley/gear (e.g. catapult) to be compared with more modern forms (e.g. elevator). Therefore, teachers could prepare a lesson that teaches students history and science at the same time. They will also be able use previous learning from one subject to supplement new learning from another.

In the learning documents under ‘Cross-curricular and Integrated Learning’ sections, it states that “linking expectations from different subject areas [provides] students with multiple opportunities to reinforce and demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a range of settings”. This increases assessment opportunities for teachers so that teachers can provide necessary instruction where the student really needs it (e.g. if he/she is weak in language arts, but strong in science and technology, problem-solving questions can assess both subjects simultaneously). Teachers can also note any differences between the documents, which can ensure that they modify their instruction for a particular subject accordingly. For example, the Application of knowledge and skills for Science and Technology includes the safe use of equipment, which is not applicable for Language. Teachers will be able to determine what general skills (e.g. inquiry/research skills) should emphasised during their lessons as they may be applicable to different subjects. I wonder if one day teaching ‘Subjects’ will become an outdated approach in favour of cross-curricular teaching.

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