Tools for Interdisciplinary Lesson Plans
The ReadWriteThink (RWT) web site doesn’t cover all of the famous three “R"s - reading, “riting", and “rithmetic but it definitely has the first two covered and adds something essential to any of them-thinking. The partnership between the International Reading Association (IRA) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is designed as a comprehensive resource for Reading, English, and Language Arts teachers but the site offers invaluable features to all educators, not the least of which is the calendar tool. This feature offers detailed lesson ideas tied to significant dates in literacy and literature; however, the events are so varied in nature they can work well within an integrated curriculum.
For example, January 22, 2009’s event is the commercial aired by Apple during the 1984 Super Bowl to introduce its personal computer. A click on that date takes the visitor to an activity on media literacy which has students produce their own commercial or advertisement. (Read Write Think has a printing press feature to help students create newspapers, flyers, posters, etc.) This assignment has the potential to join writing, artistic, and public speaking skills with a lesson in history. Knowledge about advertising and propaganda is required for this activity and four lesson plans, web links, and texts are provided for that purpose. (All of the lesson plans are free and adhere to IRA/NCTE standards.)
Both interdisciplinary potential and requisite resources are common to all calendar events. Social Studies meets English, Reading and Computer Class though the January 1st anniversary of the first immigrant to Ellis Island and Scholastic links to a virtual tour of the island’s museum and an online writing workshop where students can publish interviews with local immigrants. Tolkien fans and Language Arts instructors will love the January 3rd project comparing the written and film versions of his tales while teachers of information literacy will be happy to have students compare print to non-print media.
These features-(lesson plans, resources, and interactive tools)-have their own categories on the site that offer other ways of exploring the site’s content. Lesson Plans can be searched by grade level and purpose such as learning language or learning through language. Interactive tools can be found in Student Materials where a teacher can find a description of the tool as well as accompanying RWT lesson plans that utilize it. All are approved by a RWT review panel prior to inclusion and can be searched by grade level or type. An additional category on the IRA/NCTE Standards explains the purpose of the standards and how they encourage creative teaching practices.
There are resources for professional development which include an extensive library of books and articles, list of online professional development courses, and strategy guides for teachers. Parents and afterschool programs are not left and can find games, printable eading charts, podcasts, and many other tools in the Parents & Afterschool Resources section of ReadWriteThink.org.