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Content Knowledge in Interdisciplinary Curriculum

Elise Portella

Regent University
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Content Knowledge in Interdisciplinary Curriculum

Throughout my teaching experiences thus far, I have learned how to make connections

between subject areas in my teaching. As educators, it’s important for students to utilize their

skills in a variety of ways. The more students learn to apply their learning and make useful

connections, the more enriching and purposeful their education experience is. The goal of an

educator is to teach children how to link content matter together and use those techniques to

connect with the real world.

Artifact one displays photographs of a science experiment I chose to do with my students.

This experiment was called the “Root Beer Float” experiment. This was done on a Friday, after

the week was dedicated to learning about matter in science. Matter is Virginia SOL 1.3. I choice

this experiment as a part of my lesson to review and give students a visual of solid, liquid, and

gas. In addition, this was a great way to demonstrate what happens when certain solids and

liquids are combined (which is a part of the SOL, too). It was convenient that this experiment

covered all three forms of matter. In other words, it covered every section of the Virginia SOL

1.9 on matter.

The students were given visual/oral demonstration of what will take place throughout the

experiment. The root beer (liquid) is poured in the bowl of ice cream (solid). This is the point of

the lesson where students were asked by the teacher to make a prediction of what is going to

happen once the liquid is poured into the cup. Predictions are Virginia SOL 1.9. This is a reading

skill and a vocabulary word students were previously taught this year. Most of them caught on

quickly, but I reviewed the meaning of predictions before the students began. I was highly

impressed with my students’ responses as they were highly accurate. For example, the students

predicted that the ice-cream would change color, shape, and the liquid would cause gas bubbles
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at the top. Once the students finished their predictions, I poured the root beer on to the ice cream

and it started to fizz with gas bubbles. This almost concluded our experiment. It was not quite

over until each of us enjoyed a root beer float, of course!

After reading the article Educational Leadership, written by Sarah Fine, I was reminded

of the importance of hands on engagement between subjects to spark student interest. The article

states, “When we asked teachers to describe a time when their classroom ‘came alive,’ they

launched into vivid narratives about moments when they and their students found ways to engage

deeply and passionately with content.” (2014, p. 2) I was so happy to read this article because I

felt that it supported what I did with my students with the experiment.

Artifact two displays student work from my first student teaching placement. This was a

third-grade class learning about conservation of limited resources. My lesson on this topic

included role play cards. After being split up in groups of five, students were assigned their role

in society (i.e. farmer, student, animal rights activist). They were instructed to come up with

ways that specific person can conserve limited resources. The students were then required to

draw a poster of their answers/work. This lesson was based on Virginia SOL 3.10, which is

resource conservation.

This science lesson was connected to reading SOL 3.3d and 3.3g. Students demonstrated

reading comprehension of a fictional excerpt. Moreover, they were required by the teacher to use

the text to clarify unfamiliar words. There were words that I knew would be challenging. It was a

chance for them apply context knowledge to decode vocabulary that was unfamiliar to them.

The more experience I gain with teaching, the more I notice how the different subjects can be

connected.
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The article Benefits of Teaching Cross Circular Work, Using Thinking Skills, Techniques

and Language states, “The approach (two or more subjects combined) has encouraged students

to see how thinking skills, like sorting and classifying, can enable them to approach a topic from

a different angle.” (2002, p.3) Combining subject material prompts students to use higher level

thinking and relate ideas differently. It overall challenges their thought process and gives new

perspective.

Early on, I thought it would be impossible to connect one subject to the other. It was

discouraging. However, in student teaching, I have seen the endless opportunities to connect

material. My view on this competency has completed changed and I find it so exciting now! I

asked my students to create a journal write about matter. One of my students called me over and

said, “Ms. Portella, look! I drew ‘solid matter.’ It is a water bottle in the shape of a cylinder!”

This student is six years old. I was highly impressed how the student has taken my lead and

connected one subject area to the other. I have realized how important making connections is as

an educator and the students truly love to do so themselves.

“We teachers may be the most culpable for fostering an environment that encourages this

disconnect between subjects,” (2009, p. 1) this was stated in an article entitled Successful Cross-

Curricular Integration. Recently, teachers are lacking in this area and it is showing in the

classrooms. I never want to be part of this problem. I want to be a competent enough teacher that

can share wisdom from a variety of subjects and make meaningful connections.
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References

Mckinney, S. A., & Lowenhaupt, R. J. (n.d.). Educational Leadership. Handbook of Research on

Educational Leadership for Equity and Diversity. doi:10.4324/9780203076934.ch13

Teachcrosscurricular, ~. (2016, April 04). Cross-Curricular Teaching Advantages &

Disadvantages. Retrieved from

https://teachcrosscurricular.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/cross-curricular-teaching-

advantages-disadvantages/

Approaches to Successful Cross-Curriculum Integration. (n.d.). Retrieved from

https://www.teachhub.com/approaches-successful-cross-curriculum-integration