Why are we learning science in language arts?

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“Mrs, Woodall, why are we learning about this science stuff? This isn’t science–it’s language arts.”

I have heard the same about social studies in language arts and language arts in social studies. Some students expect their subjects to be discrete with no spill over of one content into another.

Why are some kids so uncomfortable with content spillage? What are we doing wrong in our classrooms if that is what they expect? What are we teaching about learning? How will they manage in a world where the desks and walls disappear and the real world emerges, a world where content areas collide and spill over all the time?

I am sure my follow up to the question this time was insufficient. My passionate cry of the real world and real learning, talk of connections and dendrites and neurons firing and synapses connecting–this was not the “right” answer. Perhaps seeking “the” right answer is part of the problem. In spending so much time to teach that DOK 1 or 2 “right” answer for the test, we fall short of teaching kids to ask their own questions and invest in their own leaning.

One answer is to make each day one where the walls don’t close in. Instead the walls separating our classrooms and content areas are not barriers–the doors open freely as do minds, opened to experience and question and connect. Another answer is in what we promote in our learners. Perhaps I need to work harder to encourage inquiry, to get kids to delve deeper, to encourage questions, and to help kids make connections more regularly.

I love that some kids were right there with me (some a bit ahead of me) as we questioned nature and nurture leading us on to question free will and genomes, eugenics, and epigenetics all the while connecting it to literature. These kids were learning genetics, philosophy, literature, but most of all they were impassioned about learning as they decided the state’s prompt was too simplistic and needed revision. As they decided that nature versus nurture was not enough, I let them go there.

Other students don’t think on that level, but still these students try to connect the dots and make sense of what they are learning. Some don’t want to think after the state testing is done. They just want to watch the movie. Those are the kids I for which I still am seeking the “right” answer, as their answer is a bit different. I wonder how I can engage those students to think and question more deeply and connect more of what they learn. Admittedly, I still get excited and passionate when I learn something new and can make connections to life and teaching, and I will keep working to instill that passion in others.

Here is my scoop on the topic:
my Scoop.It.

Any thoughts? Any ideas? Any middle school teachers never have kids pose that question? What is your secret? As for me, I am still, as always, in process–meandering through this mess of my teaching. 😄

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2 thoughts on “Why are we learning science in language arts?

  1. Admittedly, I teach at a progressive school, Maya, where there are few discrete subjects, only some direct lessons when needed. We do think the secret is student choice, from k to 8, they choose their own individual topics, and teachers design (with students’ questions) the curriculum around that. They are always interested because they chose the topic. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s one of the answers, I really believe. Thanks for questioning those discrete barriers.

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  2. This year, I placed a literacy teacher into a section of science and social studies in 7th grade. She only had one day per week, per section (not like SE in-class support), but she also sees the kids in a literacy lab setting. So slowly, the kids started to see the links between literacy and the “content” subjects. It is a slow go but worth it.

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