How Making Cross-Curricular Connections Engages Students in Science Learning

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Many educators find it difficult to find the time to fit in science instruction. Yet research shows that making time for science, especially in the early grades when students are at their most curious, provides them with opportunities to build a strong foundation for knowledge building, scaffold their future science learning, and develop a lasting interest in learning science.

PhD Science® is designed with educators’ busy schedules in mind, as instruction occurs about three to five times per week with 35-minute lessons in Levels K–2 and 45-minute lessons in Levels 3–5. The curriculum also features a Teacher Edition and a Teacher Resource Pack with several educator resources, including Pacing Guides to support teachers with pacing challenges.

But what else can you do to fit science instruction into your busy academic day and help your students make meaningful connections to what they are learning?

Make Cross-Curricular Connections in Science

PhD Science was carefully designed to help students build cross-disciplinary knowledge and form connections. As a result, students not only develop a foundational understanding of science, but they also make meaningful connections across scientific concepts and to other subject areas. Students also have more opportunities to continue developing math and language arts skills in new, engaging contexts.

Before we see this connection-making in action, let’s dive in to why these cross-curricular connections are an important part of science instruction.

Engage Students in What They Are Learning

As students engage in learning science, they also develop and practice skills that not only benefit them in science class but also in other content areas. For instance, developing literacy skills is crucial to learning science, as reading and writing play a large role in what scientists and engineers do. As students engage in Science and Engineering Practices, they also practice and develop many skills that cross subject areas. For instance, students work on their speaking and listening skills as they ask questions and define problems; engage in argument from evidence; and obtain, evaluate, and communicate information. They also use writing, art, and mathematics as they thoughtfully develop and use models, analyze and interpret data, and use mathematics and computational thinking.

Incorporating mathematics, visual art, and history into science instruction also helps students develop contextual knowledge as they explore rich, authentic phenomena. Instead of studying made-up locations and situations, PhD Science students look at real-life events that have taken place. This enhances student engagement and provides opportunities to look deeper into historical contexts, data points, visual depictions of the phenomena, and more.

The hands-on nature of science also lends itself to many opportunities for students to practice their skills in mathematics, engineering, art, speaking, and listening. In PhD Science, students regularly practice art skills as they draw models and work together to create anchor visuals. They also take part in Science or Engineering Challenges where they see science, mathematics, engineering, and more in action through investigations and experiments, as well as practice their communication skills as they listen to one another and discuss what they have learned.

Now, let’s take a look at how PhD Science incorporates cross-curricular or cross-content connections into science instruction.

Core Texts

PhD Science - Core TextsPhD Science purposefully incorporates award-winning trade texts into instruction to reinforce students’ literacy skills and provide an additional entry point to learn about phenomena. Authentic texts play an important role in the coherent design of the curriculum, allowing students to make meaningful connections across scientific concepts, modules and grade levels, and content areas.

Fine Art

PhD Science Art ExplorationFine art is also incorporated into every module to provide a new context for students to access science content and phenomena, and we feature fine art on each of our PhD Science module covers. Art often encourages students to notice and wonder in a similar way to how science invites them to observe, ask questions, and investigate the world around them to make sense of it. Incorporating art into instruction also opens scientific concepts up to students, sparking their curiosity and getting them excited to learn more.

Art also plays a key role in STEAM, which PhD Science addresses throughout the curriculum. Learn more about why PhD Science was awarded “Educators Pick Best of STEMTM 2021” STEAM Excellence Award.

Cross-Content Connections in the Teacher Edition

The Teacher Edition (TE) is a wonderful resource when deciding to make cross-curricular connections in science. It features many educator notes and suggestions, specifically the Content Area Connection notes, for how to incorporate connections to other subjects throughout a lesson or module.

For instance, in Level 3 Module 1, students build their understanding of what happened during the 1900 Galveston, Texas, hurricane to draw conclusions about how people describe, predict, and plan for weather based on weather patterns.

One mathematics content area connection, found in the margin of the TE, encourages educators to consider speaking with students about describing data when analyzing graphs. In this lesson, students graph and analyze data to describe weather conditions in their local area, note patterns, and track maximum temperatures throughout a month. Students’ graphs are posted in the classroom and students are invited to share their observations.

PhD Science Mathematics Content Area ConnectionIn a later lesson, students prepare for a Socratic Seminar, which provides them with opportunities to develop their speaking and listening skills as they share what they have learned and work together to answer the essential question posed in the module. Students incorporate scientific terminology that they have learned, regularly refer to the phenomena covered in class, and learn how to constructively defend their thinking.

PhD Science English Content Area ConnectionHow Will You Use Cross-Curricular Connections in Your Classroom?

We hope that you’ve gained some insight into how to weave science instruction into other content areas or vice versa. Let’s help all students make deep cross-curricular connections, as they build knowledge and see how science is involved in nearly everything.

Topics: Cross-Curricular