Help! How Do I Fit Social Studies and Science into an already-tight Curriculum? By Teresa Noverr-Chin, Technology Specialist, PS 145


It certainly isn't easy, but it can be done by focusing on content-area read alouds and reading skills whenever possible during readers/writers workshop and ELA time! My emphasis is on integrating technology into the classroom whenever possible to enhance student interest and retention. Most of these ideas focus on early elementary (k-3), but I'm sure others will be added that expand activities to higher grade levels.

SCIENCE IDEAS:
  • Launching Seed Ideas in Writer's Workshop (k-3):

When introducing Writer's Workshop and 'seed ideas', why not have students 'plant' seeds in plastic baggies? All you need is a wet paper towel, lima beans (or other large seed) and a data book. Kids will sketch and do weekly observations (written). They can even chart the growth of their seed on a chart/graph. Connect this natural growth with the beginning of their writer's notebooks (they can even keep the observation journal in there and you can incorporate how to set up the journal pages using this as a model).
Supplement basic science knowledge and reinforce the concept of sequence by having kids visit a 'flower shop' on Starfall.com: http://www.starfall.com/n/holiday/gardenshop/load.htm?f&n=main

  • Non-Fiction Research (K-2):

Have children go on "Internet Quests" to research various animals for non-fiction reports: http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=286 Animals Featured: Ants, Black Bears, Fish, Frogs & Toads, Penguins and Polar Bears!
NYIT Graduate students have created some great animal research web lessons: Honeybees (Reza Pootrakul) http://iris.nyit.edu/~rpootrak/WebLesson.html All About Penguins (Teresa Noverr-Chin) http://iris.nyit.edu/~tnoverrc/philosophy_technology/web_lesson1AA.html and Marsupials (Matt Willard) http://iris.nyit.edu/~mwillard%20/philosophy_technology/web_lesson.html



You have some outstanding programs for the students, have you ever used the Sierra website at http://www.sierraclub.org/ you may find some useful information here.
Barry Spainer

  • Nature, Trees, Ecosystems (2-4):

Children can go on an interactive 'walk in the woods' in University of Illinois Extension unit (in English or Spanish) http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/woods/01.html The story included real photos and narration, with extras like a 'Nature Notebook' to enhance vocabulary http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/woods/naturenotes.html and teacher guide which suggests extended activities http://www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/woods/tg.html

Students can play a game to clean up the environment by sorting and recycling garbage at Starfall's Earth Day http://www.starfall.com/n/holiday/earthday/load.htm?f&n=main

Alan and Hui Meng have designed an interactive, interesting page where students can discover the different ways that seeds are dispersed: http://www.vtaide.com/png/seed-dispersion.htm Just be aware that the Google Ads are interspersed carefully and appear to be chapter headings throughout the page.

  • Graphing and Analysis of Data:

    Use Rosemary Well's YOKO as a read aloud. Introduce bar graphs by having students record which international dish from the book they would most like to try: Create a huge chart graph, identify the x and y axis (how many kids, food). Have children put a sticky in the column of their choice (model by first chosing a dish yourself). Then, collect other classroom data ("What would you like to learn about your classmates?" Favorite color, favorite cafeteria lunch food - the sky is the limit!). Kids can create a class graph online at:
http://nces.ed.gov/nceskids/createagraph/default.aspx

SOCIAL SCIENCE IDEAS:

At the premier teacher's training institution in the Caribbean, Mico Teacher's College, prospective teachers are required to do a course called "Reading in the Content Area." This course aims to assist the future teacher in integrating literacy strategies across every content area. The Glencoe site that I have hyperlinked is a possible source for invaluable information on how one could integrate ELA in other disciplines. (Beverley)

OSWEGO CITY School District has extensive online units for third grade geography, economy, world history and civics, citizenship and government: http://www.studyzone.org/testprep/ss3.cfm#1.%20US%20and%20New%20York%20History
Of particular interest are the world community pages on Japan, South Africa, New York and Puerto Rico: http://www.studyzone.org/testprep/ss3topic.cfm?TopicID=35 It is not always easy to find pages that are at appropriate reading levels yet also utlize the essential vocabulary needed in content area studies. These pages have glossaries, interactive games/quizzes and colorful pictures to accompany text. I highly recomend using a unit as a standalone or incorporating the entire site into your technology-integrated lesson plans.


WebQuests


For Upper Grade students, WebQuests are a great way to integrate technology with curriculum in Social Studies and Science. A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which some or all of the information that learners use comes from the Internet. A WebQuest enables learners to utilize the Internet purposefully with a clear task in mind and designated resources, therefore making more efficient use of their time, rather than simply searching the Internet on their own . WebQuests can be short term or long term and they include an introduction, task, resources (websites and other materials including books), process for completion of the task, and a conclusion. Teachers can create webquests of their own ( check out this Copyright Law WebQuest I created) or search online through the numerous ones that exist, to choose and assign one for their students to complete. An effective webquest has essential questions to be answered that are higher order questions, is standards-based, has an engaging scenario that motivates students, and a clearly described product which is related to the task described. TeacherWeb allows teachers to easily create webquests for free. You can also create free webquests using WebQuest Generator. Here is a Webquest tutorial if you are interested in learning more about webquests. Webquests are a very effective way to motivate students to explore the curriculum by integrating technology. {Carolyn Semet}