Writing my way through the school year!

Archive for August 10, 2011

SS and Science, the “Cinderella” Subjects!

I am now blogging in my sleep. I know it’s time for the new school year, because half of my dream  was spent in a classroom where I  was used an innovative method to teach about Bolivia. (And no,  I don’t teach Bolivia, so ???) Anyway, just before I woke up, my conscious mind said something to the effect of, “Write about SS and Science not being important, blah, blah,blah, the rest was a haze.

 I use “Cinderella” in the sense of the traditional fairy tales, the step sisters (in this case Reading and Math), get all the attention, and  poor Cinderella gets none. (in this case two Cinderellas, SS and Science.) It irks me because a lot of critical thinking is done during Social Studies and Science, and it seems that we have abandoned them due to the pressure of standardized testing.  It’s not really an issue of, ” let’s make sure our kids can read and do math,” it’s ” let’s make sure our students can pass the standardized tests in reading and math.” Teachers are  Cinderella’s Dad who passed away, and the “powers that be” are  the evil stepmother, just looking out for her kids!

When NCLB was introduced, we were forced to stop teaching Social Studies and Science when testing time came around. We eliminated the blocks that were set aside for SS and Science, and created double blocks of reading and math. I was furious,  I  felt it was a disservice to my kids. Here’s the “funny” part, now our students are taking a standardized test in science in the 5th grade on K – 5 science!  But wait, science wasn’t a priority, so it really wasn’t taught, so can you guess how our students scored on the science tests? (And let’s not get started on why we are ‘testing” science?!)

In my early years of teaching, I was forced to teach using “units’. I was up in arms!   My initial reaction was, “How am I going to include reading and math, while I teach  science or social studies, it can’t be done!”  Well, at this point in my career, I don’t know any other way to teach, all subjects are intertwined. So, it’s difficult for me to understand this need to drop SS and Science, and “just” teach Reading and Math.  How can you teach these subjects, and not have reading and math be a part of each? How can you teach Reading and Math, and not have SS and Science be included?

I love teaching SS and Science, especially since it gives my “low’ kids a chance to shine! They don’t have to read at a 5th grade level to figure out how to separate a mixture, or to produce a Glog depicting the Civil War. Involvement in social studies and science creates critical thinkers.

We have to choose.  We either want critical thinkers or we want bubble fillers. We can’t have both. SS and Science need to attend the ball,  just as much as reading and math!

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