Cross-Curricular Learning in the ELA Classroom

It is important to keep learners engaged in their ELA subject material by creating cross-curricular lessons. Students are more likely to see a purpose for their learning if it can be used in other classes from 2 Peas and a Dog.

It is important to keep learners engaged in their ELA subject material by creating cross-curricular lessons. Students are more likely to see a purpose for their learning if it can be used in other classes. Here is a curated recap of a fantastic #2ndaryELA Twitter chat about how teachers are integrating other subjects into their ELA lessons. 

Q1: How do you integrate important historical events into ELA? i.e. This month is Black History Month.
  • Every April, we do a school-wide Holocaust Remembrance unit. ELA-read Holocaust books; social studies-key Holocaust events, etc.
  • We also have a Holocaust Remembrance ceremony-students read poems, watch a short Holocaust film, learn about victims 
  • I tried to find novels and short stories that take place in a different time period so we can discuss historical context
  • I tie in history with referential materials/novels, like Night (Holocaust), Bronx Masquerade (BHM/Harlem Ren), Shak/Eliz Era 
  • We just read "Thank You Ma'm" and in previous years have read "Flipped"
  • Incorporate non-fiction readings for HW connected to themes in class, i.e. reading Kindred in class, articles about slavery for HW 
  • We're so lucky to teach a subject that allows us to incorporate historically relevant/important material at any time
  • As a teacher of American Lit., I tell students we'll be looking at history through the lens of literature
  • I like to bring in fiction and nonfiction accounts of an event 
  • I use historical texts whenever I can, and especially in my current unit: "Choosing to Learn from History."
  • I LOVE using picture books to introduce a historical topic! There's always a YA novel to recommend if they enjoyed the pic book
  • We are just finishing up The Color Purple for Black History Month. We started the week before MLK - pretty heavy stuff! 
  • Questions that connect what students are studying in history to what we're reading - ex, issues of justice/est. country/The Giver 
  • We are reading "Watsons Go to Birmingham" for Book Club this month!
  • My boys are drawn to info texts on war that lead to connections to our historical fiction texts. I buy every war book I can! 
  • Historical & current events need to be embedded within subject with & without dedicated dates/months.
  • I am trying to integrate more culturally diverse materials into our class overall. Picture books are excellent starting pts! 

Q2: What is your favorite text to teach during this month? Why? Share lesson ideas.
  • Picture Books: Henry's Freedom Box, Chapter Bks: Mighty Miss Malone, a series of Graphic Biographies 
  • I love Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes. Students do a class poetry slam and research Harlem Ren. 
  • Usually allow students to choose Af. Am. poet to study, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, etc.
  • We look at a lot of different texts (primary and secondary sources) about the Civil Rights Movement
  • I love using Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Lots of ways to tie in history to that
  • We just started argumentative writing which provided the perfect opportunity to analyze MLK Jr's "I Have A Dream" speech
  • Also, Langston Hughes "From Mother to Son" the Students always write their own version afterwards
  • Frederick Douglass's "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July" to teach ethos, pathos, & logos. It's beautiful & challenging
  • Smoky Night, The Other Side, Freedom Summer, Letter from Bham Jail, Brown Girl Dreaming, Deborah Wiles 60s series

Q3: What other history topics do you cover in your ELA classes? What are topics are the most engaging to your students? 
  • Students love the 20s (Great Gatsby) and the Civil War (Killer Angels) b/c it seems so distant now. Also, Ancient Greece (Odyssey)
  • I really enjoy The Crucible - students can't get enough of those crazy witch-hunting Puritans for some reason
  • Differs from year to year. Last year read Kindred so covered slavery. My students are Af Am but lack real understanding of history 
  • Life in the 1800s (Helen Keller), yellow fever (1793 Philadelphia), the Holocaust (this is always the most engaging to students)
  • I cover whatever history topic is relevant to the piece we are reading
  • I team teach with US History teacher - follow his timeline, so I cover most time periods, or use themes 
  • I also teach history (6-8) as part of that I love incorporating stories/lit from other cultures/civilizations
  • Honestly, it's hard to cover it all in one tweet. ELA is so versatile...we teach a little bit of everything all the time! 
  • The Great Gatsby is such a hit each year! The history teacher joins in with lessons on the stock market 
  • Students love learning about the Holocaust, Greek mythology & ancient Egyptians
  • Tulsa Race Riots, Japanese Internment, Vietnam War (read Lotus Seed), Harlem Ren,
  • Students enjoy reading articles & stories about communities that helped shape CDN; internment camps, immigrant restrictions 
  • So far, we have looked at the Holocaust and the wars in Afghanistan. Now, editorials open up more social/historical avenues
  • I LOVE Fever 1793! I'm fascinated by this part of Philly history.
  • My students enjoy any topic that relates to justice vs. injustice 

Q4: What other subjects are you able to integrate into your ELA lessons? How? 
  • I integrate STEM/STEAM. Students research innovations, write info pieces on tech, draw & present multimedia work, read inventor bios.
  • Art and music are easily compared with poetry, math incorporated when reading graphs, statistics 
  • Science, math, social studies, art, music, foreign language...just have to be willing to think outside the box! 
  • ELA is the momma subject. All subjects can be integrated depending on the interest. We use NewsELA, TeenTribune & AR360
  • I try to incorporate art projects. The Lightning Thief-I cut pots out of cardboard, and students draw Greek-designs on them 
  • A few weeks ago I had students solving proportions based on information given in our text...they loved it! 
  • I like to be crafty if possible since so many students at my school don't get an elective due to test scores 
  • We do a lot of science and geography. I can't teach text structures or research without drawing heavily on those texts
  • I integrate Math, Science, History, Geography, we need to be able to provide background knowledge on everything read in class 
  • Students appreciate discussing local & global social justice issues; design an action plan 4 change by spreading awareness 

Q5: Share your best resource, lesson or idea that you use when cross-curricular teaching.
  • I curate all the great ideas I find online on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/2peasandadog/  
  • Colleagues. I have a "partner in crime" and together we've created whole grade days of learning on specific topics. Each student created an artifact...for the Holocaust they created a museum that was open to the school to come visit
  • Love the Holocaust Victims Identity Cards & activities by @literarymaven students are so intrigued! http://goo.gl/lWK89e  
  • Recently wrote about teaching the Holocaust http://goo.gl/J0mgv0 connections with history, math, nutrition 
  • Contact local museums about topics you are covering and they might have artifacts to lend. We just did this. It was amazing
  • There is so much with historical events they've never heard of! Race riots, water crisis, specific events in our community
  • I teach Journalism too so I love pulling articles from The Wall Street Journal - I got them for free!
  • Students wrote mystery story about a missing artifact at @ROMtoronto





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It is important to keep learners engaged in their ELA subject material by creating cross-curricular lessons. Students are more likely to see a purpose for their learning if it can be used in other classes.


1 comment

  1. I use digital.readworks.org, so many resources.

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