The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Making Connections Across Content Areas

Several months ago, my students began their research projects on the European explorers. The projects took much longer than expected, but I finally managed to get everything wrapped up so that we could move on to a new science unit.

In the midst of the explorers project, though, we did a side project involving the Southern Ocean and writing professional letters to two scientists, one at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the other at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. I was pleased to receive a package from one of these scientists, Dr. John M. Toole, Department Chair of Physical Oceanography at WHOI. Not only did he write to the class as a whole to answer their query, he also wrote individual, personalised notes to each student who had written to him.

From European exploration to oceanography, we are now moving on to meteorology. The awesome thing is that the subjects transition wonderfully together, since the letter from Dr. Toole mentioned the impact of his research on climate research, and studying the climate is directly related to studying the weather.

I was able to share this research project with my Literacy Across Content Areas inquiry group this afternoon. They thought the project was very cool, especially the fact that Dr. Toole actually wrote to each of the students. It was also agreed that we could all use this project in other scientific inquiries. I may use local researchers, such as those at the University of Illinois, the next time we have an inquiry project, which would then allow us the opportunity to bring a special guest into the class, as well!

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