Often, when people think about going cross-curricular in social studies, they automatically assume the best subject is language arts. However, I have found a few times when science and math fit well within social studies. For example, in attempting to understand how the Nazis got absolute compliance, our class applied a few social psychology experiments using the scientific method. (We borrowed the ideas from books like Blink and Stumbling on Happiness) The students then studied the Zimbardo prison expirment and the electric shock experiment.

I am surprised, too, how often we use math. In doing community needs assessments, students created spreadsheets and analyzed the demographic data. The entire economics section involves the daily use of math. In studying the elections, we found ourselves analyzing statistics and creating mathematical scenarios for the electoral college. As a homework option, students sometimes choose to conduct polls and graph their results with a stastical analysis attached.

Yesterday, we used math in analyzing the World War II death numbers and finalized it with a poem about war and a discussion of the danger in using statistics, in terms of forgetting the human cost of war. Afterward, a student e-mailed her reflections on statistics, which really impressed me.

It’s making me realize that math is valuable and that I know the subject well enough to teach it. It also makes me hopeful of being able to create thematic units next year in my self-contained classroom.

John Spencer

My goal is simple. I want to make something each day. Sometimes I make things. Sometimes I make a difference. On a good day, I get to do both.

More about John

3 responses

  1. That’s great to see A.S. apply statistics like that. Even if there was a little guesswork that was involved, his/her deductive ability was pretty impressive.

    I’d love to sit in on one of your classes some time. They sound like fun.

  2. To apply cross-curriculum lessons to Early Childhood Education, we are currently doing a social studies theme of a Mexican market in first grade. The students are learning about the economy, how to use money in their everyday lives through buying and selling, and that they must do something or “earn money” in order to receive money to spend. The students are earning pennies to use in their Mexican market.Our lessons and discussions started off with Social studies objectives, and have become very very integrated. For example, we are using the money they earn to do math objectives and counting. They are making art projects for their market to earn pennies which included visual arts objectives. Currently we are talking about science and recycling, and they are using recycled materials to make things for their market. We made maracas (visual arts) and are doing music lessons with them. It’s amazing to see how one lesson or theme can become so integrated!

  3. We took a look at all the data from the Titanic in the spring. Pretty cool.

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