Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Literacy and Social Sciences

I went on a course today about how to integrate literacy and social science.

Integration has always seemed logical to me.  Perhaps because in Early Childhood there is no splitting up on subjects.  Learning just happens.

When we teach a subject in isolation learning becomes fragmented.  In life, we don't compartmentalise our experiences, so why should we do this in teaching?

Reading and writing naturally go with social science.  We read information, we use writing to show our ideas. The most important thing that I learnt at this course was the importance of oral language to help support thinking and understanding.

Teaching strategies such as "think-pair-share" and "jigsaw" all help students pull apart ideas and use their prior knowledge.  Through this dialogue, thinking is shaped.

When it comes to writing a response, students are already at a more polished stage of understanding and have confidence in their thinking.

The other integral part of this is using structure to help students write their ideas.  Writing frames provide one level of support and this can be differentiated to meet the needs of the students in the class.  Some may need a lot of support and others may know exactly what they are going to write.

And back to the purpose of social science..

'The social sciences learning area is about how societies work and how people can participate as critical, active, informed, and responsible citizens.' (The New Zealand Curriculum, 2007)

to be able to do this we need to be able to talk to each other, think critically about texts and write responses that reflect our thoughts.