The ability to connect content from one subject matter to another is essential to authenticate the learning experience for students. Sometimes, this can be very difficult to do, especially if you don’t have cross-curricular planning time as a part of your teaching schedule. Unfortunately, as a Journalism teacher, I do not have this planning time built into my schedule, so I take it upon myself to meet with my peers in order to discuss the topics they are covering or will be covering in their classes. I take this information and try to connect it to lessons that I’m planning. The blog can be a useful tool in linking across curricula because students can access the blog in any class, on any device. A blog post can be started in my class and finished or edited in a different class at a later date, or vice versa.
For a Journalism class, the easiest connections are with English Language Arts and Social Studies classes. For example, the 6th grade Social Studies curriculum has an intense focus on geography. One of the continents studied in that class is Africa. Most of the students in the school have never been to Africa or don’t know anyone who has. A lot of the information they have about Africa comes from movies, television, and often times, stereotypes. Sometimes this means that students have a skewed perception of what life in Africa is like. When learning about the geography of the African continent, students can have a hard time connecting that to things they already know in their lives. I decided to listen and read the TedTalk “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Adichie with my students. In this TedTalk, the author talks about her life in Nigeria and the danger of viewing a group of people through a single lens. Students were then required to write a reflective blog post connecting what they learned about in Social Studies class to what they learned about Adichie’s experience in Nigeria. The students were able to integrate their knowledge about Africa’s geography with the biographical information they learned in my class. Students were then asked to respond to each other’s posts and continue the conversation in their Social Studies classes. They were able to take a very dry topic, like geography, and view it with a different approach. This gave a more “human” experience to learning about Africa as a whole.
While blogging is a more obvious tool in English Language Arts and Social Studies classes, it can still be useful for Science and Math classes. Students can use the blog to express mathematical ideas or expressions in writing. For example, while still on the topic of African geography, students could use the blog to create mathematical problems about populations of different African countries or economies. In science classes, students can blog about the different animals or species found in various African countries. A connection between math and science can be made where students are asked to create or solve mathematical problems in relation to the African climate or certain animals.
This cross-curricula use of the blog is such a useful technique to connect all subject matters for students. Sometimes what students learn in one class is so isolated from what they learn about in another class. It can be hard for students, and even teachers, to find connections between one class and another class. However, it is absolutely essential for students to see the relationships that exist between one subject matter and another. It gives students the opportunity to think critically about one topic, like Africa, as a whole. They are able to grapple with the same topic from various perspectives, and they begin to think outside the box when faced with different situations.