Throughout my years of working with educators, I’ve heard an awful lot of talk about “cross curricular teaching” or “carrying the strategies across all content area”. While I think this is not only a really good idea, the research shows that it’s critical to getting kids enough practice in different types of text in order to become mastered in those reading strategies.
The problem is that we talk about cross curricular strategies, but I’m not sure we know exactly what that means! (Or at least I’m the only one who doesn’t!!)
Enter the Reading Informational Text Common Core Standards…
One of the things that we need to realize about the RI standards across EVERY GRADE LEVEL is that informational text is not necessarily just referring to all non-fiction text. Reading informational text is specifically referring to reading text that refers to trends, categories or on-going ideas around the social and scientific world. And textbooks are a GREAT resource for informational text!
So, here’s what a “cross curricular strategy” conversation might sound like in light of the Common Core:
An English or Reading teacher might come to a industrial arts, science or P.E. teacher and say something very specific like, “I am working to ensure that I am providing appropriate practice in the various forms of informational text and I realized that you might be able to help me with this! Do you think that we could take 30 minutes next week and look through the types of informational text that I’m using and look at the forms of informational text that you use in your class and see what we have?”
I’ve now opened a conversation with a non-traditional-subjects teacher about the content that we both teach! We’re inching closer to cross-curricular alignment…
The follow-up to that conversation would be something like this, “You know, in order for our kids to master the use of that informational text, there are a few routines that I would love for them to practice in your classroom and in mine – they’ll need all of that practice to master those skills. Would you be open to talking about a few routines (i.e. Standards) that we could have in common when it relates to teaching and using the informational text in both of our content areas?”
Now there’s lots of talking that needs to take place beyond that, but the RI Standards provide a very logical conversation-opener that we might not have had previously: that in order to teach the Common Core Standards, I can “borrow” some of your teaching and your content to make sure we’re covering all of our bases on the RI Standards.
Here’s the deal: I don’t know what cross curricular strategies mean. But I do know that we can collaborate around TASKS that lead us to implement the CCSS. Those tasks will lead to conversation across content areas. And if those conversations lead to trying something new, then we’re one big step closer to cross curricular strategies and mastering the teaching of the RI Standards. I believe that we are not well-aligned across the curriculum because people don’t know what to talk about!
(Oh and on a side note…is anyone else ready for us to STOP using these fancy education-ese terms that no-one can clearly define? I am!)