The 2010 school year has been a fantastic experience. I have had the unique experience of working with both the Social Science and English departments. This has enabled me to witness the similarities between the curriculum and skills being taught in the disciplines. With the help of Mr. Harris and Mrs. Heather I have spear headed an effort to begin to create a junior English and Social Studies curriculum that reinforce each other.
One of my goals for the 2011 school year is to continue to use my familiarity with both the junior English and Social Studies curriculum to create a foundation of shared literary skills and exceptions throughout all classes. Currently, both subjects assess essay writing, speeches, and drawing conclusions from a text, among other skills. What both subjects lack is a standardized success criteria. Instead of students learning one form of essay writing in English and another in social studies, they will be taught and assessed in both courses in a manner that will better prepare them for NCEA exams and further education.
I have also been excited to see many of the same topics being taught in both curriculum. My year 10 social studies students had the accidental benefit of learning about Apartheid in South Africa in my class, while completing a film study on District 9, an analogy of the treatment of Africans in Johannesburg. Students were able to use their knowledge from both Mr. Carr and my own course to enhance their achievement in both classes. I have already begun to work with both departments to create more cross curricular themes. Besides enabling students to go into even grater depth on topics shared themes within the two courses will enable greater resource sharing between the departments. Students reading the novel Night, by Elie Wiesel, is a far better and cheaper resource then any history textbook.
I have always believed that a good social studies curriculum has a strong base of literary skills, and a strong English analysis requires a complete understanding of the historical situation. My goal in the 2011 school year is to create an English and Social Studies dept. that work hand in hand with each other. The students have clear expectations of all literary skills, and greater understanding of cultural and historical settings of novels, short stories, and visual studied in their English classes.