Every elementary educator knows that classroom time is at a premium and in recent years there has been an overwhelming emphasis on Reading and Math. As a result it is imperative that our science curriculum and instruction are mindfully integrated with ELA, Math, and even Social Studies. According to the Michigan Department of Education, SCIENCE is actually the perfect vehicle to drive this integration and that the Michigan ELA Standards “cannot be fully addressed outside of the context of science education. . . . Young children who participate in learning science are more likely to interpret and learn with challenging text, acquire rich vocabulary and language, write for a broader range of purposes, and build evidence-based argument to communicate with others.” from Supporting Early Literacy Development and Science Instruction. As can be seen in the MSS/NGSS standards themselves, connections are made to Michigan Mathematics Standards as well. Connections among the three are especially prevalent in the Practices of each as can be seen in this venn diagram. Research also supports the idea that students need content experiences to fully understand what they read as can be seen in the video Teaching Content is Teaching Reading.
English Language Arts
Many of the Key Instructional Strategies embedded in the Phenomenal Science Units, such as Science Discourse, Collaborative Groups, Modeling, Summary Tables, Notebooking, Argument and Explanations, naturally integrate many key aspects of literacy and language arts. As these come up throughout the units, look for the standards connections noted there in the Why column. The units also strive to integrate a great deal of informational text such as those found in MeL ebooks, book flix, Britannica encyclopedia, World Book encyclopedia and articles. Other text sources include: NewsELA, YoungZine, ReadWorks, Article of the Week and Archive AoW. Some other good ideas about integration between Science and ELA can be found in Exploring the Science Framework which digs into the practice of Obtaining, Evaluating and Communicating Information. The Michigan English Language Arts Standards are helpful for comparison. MeL List is also a helpful resource. For practical suggestions around developing literacy through science instruction, read Linking Literacy Development and Science chapter from Tools and Traits for Highly Effective Science Teaching (p. 27 - 35)
There is a great connection between the Mathematical Practice and the Science and Engineering Practices. Exploring the Science Framework: Making Connections in Math gives some great examples about how we can be more intentional about making this integration obvious and explicit. As noted by Edutopia author Ben Johnson in How to Creatively Integrate Science and Math, “Ultimately, as another study reported, the students' increased conceptual understanding of math and science is the greatest benefit of math and science teacher collaboration. Conceptual understanding means the students know the bigger picture of why things work in math and science, not just how to make them work.” Further, cited on the site Integrating Science and Math, Research indicates that an integrated approach to learning aligns with the way the brain naturally processes and internalizes new information. Since mathematics and science are integrated in the world outside the classroom, and technology has become a natural extension of this integration, it seems only logical that these areas are studied together inside the classroom.” This same site is a great resource for more information and strategies. Refer to the Michigan Mathematics Standards for further connections.
It has also been noted that within the units there are many connections to the Michigan Social Studies standards. With classroom time so short, we must take advantage of all the connections we can make.
Students need to be proficient at using and evaluating technology resources. Consider this article, Five Reasons Why Tech Matters, to further understand the need for students to experience technology. There are many ways to engage students in the use of technology within the Phenomenal Science units. Refer to the ISTE Technology Standards for connections.