How do you deal with complaints or obstacles about cross-curricular reading or other activities? (From students OR staff)
Tara, Science in the City:
I emphasize the importance of reading in science in terms of both current news articles, and Regents (state exams). The biggest determining factor in passing the Regents is reading level. This is a sad statement, but also very important. I also try to show all the ways the reading about science can be engaging and fun. I also try to find small ways to integrate reading gradually into the curriculum. Perhaps reading a small article as a starter, reading a current events article related to the topic at hand, etc.
Kimberly, OC Beach Teacher:
Since our students begin PARCC this year and it’s a literary test, I have been encouraging other content area teachers to support the English teachers at our school. I initiated professional development over the summer where science and social studies teachers joined the English teachers to discuss reading and writing curriculum. We tried to get the content teachers on board with us by providing lesson resources, rubrics, and Internet links. For instance, we told them about Newsela.com, so they could find appropriate nonfiction texts to use in their classrooms!
Clair, High School English on a Shoestring Budget: I point out whenever things are, technically, “cross-curricular.” After all, once out of school, there is nothing in life that doesn’t blend multiple subjects. I also try to bring in interesting readings and concepts to my English class to help students understand– again, pointing out that this map of the Yukon (for ‘Call of the Wild’) is Geography, or that this information about the Arctic and the effect of ice on wooden sailing ships (such as in Frankenstein) is science. Reading is part of all subjects, and our understanding of reading– even reading that is “just” English class reading– is improved by relating it to the rest of the world, in any and all other curricula. (I’ve also been known to make a mock-horrified big deal about, OH NO, this article on the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is really a History topic! Gasp! Most of my students appreciate some good sarcasm.)
Lauralee,The Language Arts Classroom:
“With students, it helps to discuss jobs they are familiar with. I’ll ask students to list jobs – advertising, salesperson, factory worker, lawyer, doctor, restaurant worker, secretary, etc.
Not one of those jobs doesn’t require reading. Reading is across the board in real life, and so it should be the same in school. Many of those jobs affect other people. How would it be if a factory worker didn’t read protocol but was making the vehicle you were going to drive? If the doctor didn’t read the side effects of a medicine he was giving you? A waiter didn’t read the updates to new ingredients in the menu and didn’t answer correctly about a nut allergy? ”
Jackie, Room 213: The biggest obstacle is the blinders the kids sometimes wear when it comes to learning. Too often they see learning as something that comes in boxes–in my class it’s labeled “English”, in their next class it’s labeled “science”, etc. To overcome that, I spend a lot of time speaking to my students about the importance of learning how to learn, not just “learning a subject”. I want them to leave my class with more than just a knowledge of how to write an essay or to read Shakespeare, so we reflect a lot on process. When it comes to reading, I try to offer them a variety of texts to read; we talk about what it means to be an active reader and what it means in different reading situations. They will read a poem differently than they read prose and they will read a novel for enjoyment differently than they will read a science textbook or a math problem. It’s not always easy to convince them to take off their blinders, though!
How do you deal with complaints or obstacles about cross-curricular reading or other activities? Please share your answers in the comments!