Merging with Language Arts

Activities to incorporate content areas

Permalink by:Bethany Kelly May 12th, 2009 View Comments

After reading "No more 'boring' textbooks" by Angela Edgar in the April/May edition of Reading Today, I've been coming up with ways that I could help incorporate Language Arts skills (reading, writing, listening, speaking) into the other content areas and vice versa.

LA into other content areas

If a teacher of any other subject came to me wanting to incorporate Language Arts skills into their classes, I would suggest Literature Circles as described in Edgar's article. I see two super-adaptable ways to use content area textbooks or tradebooks in a lit circle: give individual students tasks while working toward a small-group presentation, or give small groups tasks working toward a whole-class presentation.

Individual student tasks could include making graphs, illustrations, sorting information, conveying vocabulary in memorable ways, writing summaries, expanding on significant quotes, doing research, or making connections to real life. Every student gets a specific task they are responsible for, then they meet with a small group to explain their contribution and answer questions from peers. Small group tasks could include making videos or skits, writing songs, creating outlines, doing interviews and collecting responses, doing a group research project, powerpoint, or whatever else, in order to demonstrate to the whole class how they dug deeper into a topic from class.

Other content areas into LA

Using Text Sets would be an easy way to bring any topic from science or social studies into the Language Arts classroom. Collect materials (fiction, news, poetry, biographies, maps, songs) that fit different reading levels and interests but all center on a connecting theme. Then give students options of activities to do before, during, and after the reading of their choice. It's especially useful to students to read a variety of texts on one topic to reinforce new concepts. The teacher could ask student to complete a checklist of the activities they complete, then students could write a summary/analysis of how the topic was portrayed in different formats and which were most effective.

Choice Boards would work with nearly any topic, too. The teacher could provide students with a 3x3 grid full of activities students can complete individually. Activities should appeal to a variety of students; there should be options to read and respond to news articles or poetry, draw maps or diagrams, answer comprehension questions, tell stories from a historical figure's point of view, describe pictures or whatever else might connect students to the topic. Students circle the four activities on the grid they intend to complete, and they cross out the ones they don't want to do. Students then should have 20 minutes to a half hour to work on each activity. (Students can do the activities at their own pace, in any order.) At the end, students can give presentations or add the work to a portfolio.

So, what do you think? Would these be easy to put into practice? Maybe you do these already and have advice to share? Let me know!

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