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Content Knowledge in Interdisciplinary Curriculum

Elizabeth Rohr

Regent University

In partial fulfillment of UED 496 Field Experience ePortfolio, Spring 2018



Any elementary school teacher knows that planning four subjects on a weekly basis is no

easy task. Top this with the pressures of meeting SOL standards, daily resources that take time

away from instruction, and assessing and reassessing. Most teachers just do not have enough

time in the day to get it all done. With a lack of time to teach, teachers must be creative in

integrating two or more subjects into one lesson. Math can be integrated into science; language

arts can be integrated into social studies. There are so many different ways to create

interdisciplinary curriculum.

Rationale for Selection of Artifacts

The first artifact that I choose is a lesson plan that I used to connect language arts to

social studies. In language arts, the students were working on finding the main idea within non-fiction

texts. Another fifth-grade teacher had some great articles on important historical figures that the students

needed to know about for the specific unit. During our social studies lesson that day, students were given

two short articles on George Washington and James Madison. The students read these articles in their

groups for independent practice and then filled out a graphic organizer on both historical figures. They

were asked to include the main idea of the article and important details on that historical figure. In this

lesson, students were able to learn about the historical figures that were needed for social studies, but

were also able to practice finding the main idea and supporting details within non-fiction texts.

This lesson was great for saving time. Time had been cut short in social studies due to resources,

benchmark testing, and special presentations and assemblies. We needed to make up time somewhere, so

by combining social studies and language arts, we were able to shorten language arts for that day and

focus on social studies. This lesson ensured that students were engaging skills in language arts and skills

in social studies.

The second artifact that I choose was some pictures of the students working in their groups on the

independent part of the lesson. I choose these pictures because it shows students working in groups with

graphic organizers and social studies. In the pictures, students can be seen reading the articles about the

historical figures and then as a group filling out their graphic organizer to include the main idea of the text

that they read and important details of that text. I have also attached a blank example of the graphic

organizer that they completed in their groups. The students had to use their non-fiction text to fill out their

graphic organizers which ensured that students were getting both language arts and social studies practice.

Reflection on Theory and Practice

For any great teacher, understanding the curriculum is a vital aspect of being effective in

the classroom. But any great teacher also knows that just knowing the curriculum is not enough,

a great teacher also has to have the knowledge of how to combine different subjects and topics

into one. A teacher that knows both the curriculum and has the ability to combine two subjects is

a truly excellent teacher. Within interdisciplinary curriculum, there are numerous ways to

combine subjects into one. According to Wiggins and McThighe, “any complex unit or course of

study will naturally involve many educational targets simultaneously” (2005, p. 105). It only

makes sense that subjects in education will overlap and by not recognizing this, it is doing a

disservice to education. It is not simply enough to teach the curriculum that is placed in front of

us, we must also find creative ways to connect this curriculum to all disciplines.

In recent years, education has made a push towards language arts and math being the

primary focus in school. While math and language arts are incredibly important, we often forget

that science and social studies go hand and hand with both language arts and math. Not only does

science and social studies go hand and hand with other subjects, they are also both extremely

important in the educational process. According to Cunningham and Allington, “children who

have not had regular science and social studies instruction usually enter the intermediate grades

with huge vocabulary deficits” (2007, p. 8). Both science and social studies improve vocabulary

which in turn improves reading compression. Along with the current trend in education to push

language arts and math, teacher must also not forget the benefits that science and social studies

content provide in education.



Cunningham, P. M. & Allington, R. L. (2007). Classrooms That Work (4th ed.). Boston, MA:


Wiggins, W. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for

Supervision of Curriculum Development.