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Running Head: CONTENT KNOWLEDGE

Content Knowledge in Interdisciplinary Studies


Emily Kooiman
Regent University

In partial fulfillment of UED 495 Field Experience E-Portfolio, Fall 2016

CONTENT KNOWLEDGE

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Introduction

Effectively integrating two or more content areas into one lesson is a skill teachers must
have because of the numerous standards that must be imparted to students. Instructional time is
precious for teachers, and therefore, they must know how to catch two birds with one stone in
order that all standards are taught by the end of the year. While teaching Language Arts to a
fourth grade class, I taught a lesson that integrated reading, writing, science, and social studies
into one. First, I engaged students in reading and discussion about National Parks in the United
States and allowed them to practice navigating the different features in a nonfiction text. Second,
the students wrote a sidebar like an author would for a nonfiction piece.
Rationale for Selection of Artifacts
The first artifact is my Language Arts lesson plan that integrates four content areas. The
lesson focused on the Virginia Beach Objective 4.6. which teaches students how to, Use text
features, such as type, headings, and graphics, to predict and categorize information in both print
and digital texts (Virginia Beach City Public Schools, 2016). Integrated within the lesson was
the Writing SOL 4.7 d) Organize writing to convey a central idea, and World Geography SOL
WG.2 The student will analyze how selected physical and ecological processes shape the
Earths surface by, b) describing how humans influence the environment and are influenced by
it (Virginia Department of Education, 2016). The lesson also integrated the Science SOL 4.5,
The student will investigate and understand how plants and animals, including humans, in an
ecosystem interact with one another and with the nonliving components in the ecosystem, f)
influences of human activity on ecosystems (Virginia Department, 2016).

CONTENT KNOWLEDGE

Specifically, this lesson focused on sidebars which are common nonfiction text features
that add information not necessarily stated in the text. Students first read about National Parks
and discussed questions with their face partner such as, What do parks on the endangered list
have in common? (Boynton & Blevins, 2007). Next, I discussed with the students the
importance of sidebars--they enhance a nonfiction text, giving information not necessarily listed
in the main text. Last, the students read a passage about an island that preserves beaches and an
endangered species, and then they created their own sidebar to go along with this passage. This
lesson integrated four content areas because the students used reading and writing to study
science and social studies through learning about birds and state preservations.
The second artifact is the On Your Own activity where students created their own
sidebar to go along with the nonfiction passage on Fire Island National Seashore. The students
gained a deeper understanding into nonfiction text features by writing their own sidebar to reflect
the information in a passage. The sidebar gave the students blanks where they filled in the
necessary information. By doing this activity, students were using reading and writing to aid
them in learning about preserving national seashores and endangered species.
In order to meet the needs of all my students, I instructed the gifted learners, or those who
finished reading early, to answer the extra After Your Read questions and have an answer
ready to share with the whole class. It is important teachers keep learners of all levels engaged at
all times. In order to support student academic achievement, I assessed learners as they filled out
the sidebar activity. I wanted to ensure my students understood the purpose of the sidebar
nonfiction text feature. After the lesson was over, I reviewed all the activity sheets and noted
learners who were still developing in this area. Some students did not complete the sidebar

CONTENT KNOWLEDGE

activity which also gave me insight into those students who were not on task during the
independent activity.
Reflection on Theory and Practice
The first step in creating a high-quality lesson is to align it with a specific standard of
learning. I created my lesson plan according to a Virginia Beach Standard 4.6.3 and clearly
stated it at the beginning of the lesson to give the students a purpose for learning. Dean, Hubbell,
Pitler, and Stone (2012) denote the necessity of this, When teachers identify and communicate
clear learning objectives, they send the message that there is a focus for the learning activities to
come (p. 2). This lesson not only had clear learning objectives, but it also integrated so many
different areas of learning--reading, writing, science, and social studies. Marzano as cited by
Hinde (2005) calculated all the hours a teacher would need to teach the 200 standards required to
students and it was about 6,000 more hours than teachers actually have of instructional time.
Marzanos study highlights the importance of integrating multiple content areas into one lesson.
Without doing this, teachers would not be able to cover all the standards required to give the
students a well rounded education.
Creating and implementing strong, standards-based instruction that covers multiple
content areas is so important to education. Integrated lessons allows students to learn the
necessary information they need to be well rounded citizens of our society while also working on
vital skills such as reading and writing. Lipson, Valencia, Wixson, and Peters (1993) states the
importance of integration by saying that it, ...represents a way to avoid the fragmented and
irrelevant acquisition of isolated facts, transforming knowledge into personally useful tools for
learning new information (p. 252). Teachers who master the skill of implementing

CONTENT KNOWLEDGE
interdisciplinary curriculum will prepare their students with the skills and knowledge they need
to give them a better future.

CONTENT KNOWLEDGE

References
Boynton, A., Blevins, W. (2007). Navigating nonfiction. New York, NY: Scholastic Inc.
Dean, C., Hubbell, E., Pitler, H., & Stone, B. (2012). Classroom instruction that works:
Research-based strategies for every teacher, 2nd edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Hinde, E. (2005). Revisiting curriculum integration: A fresh look at an old idea. The Social
Studies, vol. 96 (Iss. 3), 105-111.
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3200/TSSS.96.3.105-111?journalCode=vtss20
Lipson, M., Valencia, S., Wixson, K., & Peters, C. (1993). Integration and thematic teaching:
Integration to improve teaching and learning. Language Arts, vol. 70 (No. 4), 252-263.
http://www.jstor.org/stable/41482091?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
Virginia Beach City Public Schools. (2016). Standards of Learning. Retrieved from
http://www.vbschools.com/sol/
Virginia Department of Education. (2016). Standards of Learning (SOL) & Testing. Retrieved
from http://doe.virginia.gov/testing/index.shtml