Teaching across the curriculum is a phrase that had grown in popularity over the years, but it is now starting to be replaced with the phrase integrating curriculum. It is one thing to teach similar topics in different curricular areas (teaching across the curriculum), but it is quite another to teach a topic through the lenses of these areas. It is doing this last that I am trying to do right now with my students.
We are in a unit on the Revolutionary War (the American War for Independence). I have at my disposal a classroom set of social studies history textbooks that attempt to teach the entire war in 20 pages, several different historical fiction book sets in my school library, a writing unit by Lucy Calkins that teaches note-taking and informative essay writing, and a new social studies unit developed by the good folks at Front Row that incorporates informative texts with reading comprehension, discussion, and writing activities. Instead of using all of these at once, I am using bits and pieces of them to integrate the instruction within the various curricular areas of history, social studies (I consider these two different, albeit related, topics), reading, writing, and technology.
By integrating my curriculum into huge parts of the day, students have more freedom to choose what they will work on through the day, but they still have specific assignments and tasks to be completed. For the next several weeks, my students will be fully immersed in the world of the Revolutionary War. They will be reading, writing, connecting, analyzing, discussing, debating, and exploring these topics. I won’t be able to cover everything, and there will almost definitely be topics that I wish we could get into that we won’t due to time, as well as other topics that we will spend more time on as students ask their questions and drive the instruction, but it is going to be great! I am excited and I hope that they will be excited, too!