Cross-curricular learning is increasingly important today, thanks to a national emphasis on STEM and the needs of a changing workforce. Cross-curricular lessons expose students to multiple disciplines at once, prepare them to think critically about their world and how to solve the problems it faces.
Online curriculum from Kids Discover and other resources help me connect social studies and STEM. Recently, I had my students reading online resources about Ancient Rome. They found information relating to the Romans’ building techniques and we had an engaging discussion on their aqueducts and how and why they worked.
Another time cross-curricular lesson focused on ancient Egypt. One of my students noticed that the early Egyptian society started around the Nile River, and made the connection to Mesopotamian society starting around the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. This led to research and discussion about the science and importance of rivers to the development of early civilizations.
The online resources I use are a key element of my approach. Textbooks are boring to many students. But when I let them choose what they want to read from among a group of articles (short, concise, with visual elements like maps and illustrations), I get buy in on the lesson. They enjoy providing evidence of their learning.
When it comes to cross-curricular learning, I’m not only teaching my students about historical people and events; I’m showing them how to take what happened in the past and apply their critical thinking skills to analyze why and how these things happened. Learning about the past enables my students to think critically about their present, and their future.
Darren Faust is a mentor teacher at Summit Charter Collegiate Academy in Porterville, CA.
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