English & Biology = the next big thing

…at my school that is!

I know I mentioned yesterday my talk with one of my colleagues about possibly connecting some of our curriculum ideas/goals for the upcoming year. And I’m really excited about the possibility of working together!

As is the norm in many schools, sophomores usually take biology and have a research component for their English class. What we’ve come up with is a way to build upon both curricular needs to hopefully strengthen and create more connections for students to help them become more challenged and engaged with the content.

First, I wasn’t really happy with the way research went last year with my sophomores. There was a lot I could’ve done differently to perhaps structure the process differently. For example, instead of making it an end of the year thing, I want to start at the beginning of the year more directly so that we are continually building and strengthening these skills. Research is hard. Thus, I think giving as many opportunities to break down the process, model, and strengthen through repetition will be key (especially because these skills will be instrumental in other aspects of life down the road, too).

My colleague was expressing his frustration with trying to help students understand the difference between a peer-reviewed research article versus just a news article. He has them find an article and then write a brief, 2-page abstract about what they read. In other words, kids were having a problem researching and then breaking down that information into a concise way.

My suggestion: 1st semester–> start the research process skills earlier in my class which helps them in biology; continually research topics for biology that will ultimately tie into research paper/project for English; 2nd semester –> pick topic to focus on for English (has to have worldly implications) from one of the abstracts from biology; write research essay/create PSA; create a poster board presentation (mimics science fair, but ties into English with presentation skills, communicating clearly to lay audience, visual rhetoric, and will be a part of English research project). Rough ideas to start with, but still feel that these connections between our two classes will help our students garner a better understanding and stronger skills.

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