## Integrated Language Arts

As a subject area, language arts centers on reading and writing skills. But this is not all a language arts teacher covers. Most curricula calls for **integration**, which means relating your topic or unit to other subject areas. This lesson will look at different methods to integrate a language arts classroom.

## Teacher-Led Activities

As the teacher, you are responsible for guiding your students through integrated activities. One strategy you can use is **clarifying**, which involves answering the basics of the learning topic. Simply put, this means showing your students how to restate direct details or information from the lesson. Integrating at this level would consist of basic clarification of details that are cross-curricular. For example, if your students are reading an informational article on pollution, have your students answer questions or do activities that clarify the scientific aspects of the article.

Clarifying should then lead into **questioning**, which pushes your students into a more critical analysis of the topic. These questions should be much more complex than just basic recall. A great way to integrate using critical analysis is to relate the reading to real-world situations. For example, after clarifying the article on pollution, have students analyze the information. Ask them ‘Has mankind been a good species for the planet?’ You can also have students complete an activity analyzing how their own pollution or recycling can influence the environment.

Lastly, once your students become proficient with clarifying and critical questioning, then you can move on to making **predictions**. Predictions consist of educated inferences about the plot and characters in literature. This can be easily made into an integrated lesson. Imagine you are doing a novel unit on *Hatchet* by Gary Paulsen. Have your students make scientific predictions about what might happen to Brian. Ask them to predict how long Brian can last on berries alone. Or how might Brian make sure the water is clean and healthy before he drinks it? What will his experience be when he encounters wildlife? Once you start to incorporate these techniques on a regular basis, then you will discover activities that match this line of thinking.

## Student-Centered Activities

Once your students understand the basics of integrated topics, then there are other activities you can allow them to do more independently. One strategy is to allow for independent **summarizing**. This involves having your students describe the lesson or material in their own words. Use pairs or group discussion with one student sharing out to the rest of the class.

To use this strategy with integration in mind, you can assign each group a different perspective. For instance, returning to the article on pollution, one group can summarize the information from the perspective of a scientist, another from the perspective of a historian, and yet another from the perspective of a mathematician. Be creative and let your students bring in the cross curricular sides.

Another strategy is to use **reciprocal teaching**, which involves students teaching the rest of the class. This technique is a great method to bring in integrated aspects. For instance, imagine you are doing a novel unit on *A Tale of Two Cities* by Charles Dickens. This story occurs in the midst of the French Revolution, so bring history class into language arts by splitting your class into groups to research different aspects of the revolution. They can discover the events that led up to the war, the battles and attacks that happened during the fighting, and the aftermath or the consequences. Then each group will teach the rest of the class about their specific part.

## Lesson Summary

To review, **integration** means bringing in cross-curricular subjects into one lesson or topic. For language arts, this means not simply covering literature, but showing the relationship of literature to math, science, and history.

**Clarifying**, **questioning**, and making **predictions** are all teacher-led activities that should be used for integrating a language arts classroom. To integrate using clarification means reporting the basic facts of the topic relating to a different subject. Integration through questioning pushes the students into a more critical analysis of the material from a different perspective. Last, integrate by using real-world examples to push your students to make predictions relating to other subjects.

**Summarizing** and **reciprocal teaching** are more student-centered strategies for integration. You can have your students summarize, or describe in their own words, from cross-curricular perspectives. Also, you can assign different cross-curricular aspects to groups or individuals, who can then teach the rest of the class.

Overall, there are many ways to integrate other subjects into a language arts classroom. Use these suggestions as a starting point to discover your own activities to use in your class.

## Key Terms

- integration: relating your topic or unit to other subject areas
- clarifying: teacher-led strategy that answers the basics of the learning topic
- questioning: teacher-led strategy that pushes students into a more critical analysis of the topic
- predictions: teach-led strategy that consists of educated inferences about the plot and characters in literature
- summarizing: student-centered strategy that involves having students describe the lesson or material in their own words
- reciprocal teaching: student-centered strategy that involves students teaching the rest of the class