How can social studies educators collaborate more with others outside their discipline? Collaboration has been a growing topic in secondary education and should be performed at all levels of education. The increased potential that all levels of education could have if teachers would simply collaborate among themselves is immense. Imagine a history student taking a chemistry course, but instead of learning formulas, they could learn about the ethics of chemical warfare, or a 10th grade wood shop student building a museum style exhibit. These are the types of changes to education that provide greater opportunities to students, reduce the redundancy of coursework, multiply the time students have to work on projects with trained professionals, and excite student interest. Below is a list of how history classes can collaborate with other courses. This list is certainly not all inclusive and would benefit greatly from the comments and ideas of other educators.
Statistics-History is a data mine. Several historians have written excellent monographs by using statistics, see Kyle Zelner’s Rabble in Arms as an example. In history class, students can use the formulas they learn to examine data from primary sources and create conclusions from that data. Math students could answer word problems based from historical information. Teachers will need to collaborate with each other to develop these questions.
Graphing-History curriculum largely relates to learning about “place.” Archeologists will study ancient ruins, old city markets, battlefields, and pretty much anywhere. Graphing is an important job to archeologists. They meticulously track where events happened, and mark spots where they find artifacts. Furthermore, archeologists will use graphing to predict where certain event may have happened or where there may be artifacts. Similar to statistics, math and history teachers will need to work together to find areas where graphing will be appropriate. Maps can be used, battlefield and current archaeological digs would be fun and relevant. Local community sites would also be great to use.
The major theme that unites history and science is research methods. Both groups use a research system that mostly follows the same steps. Due to the similarity in research models, collaboration projects are the obvious route when pairing these two subjects.
Biology-Students could work on projects that have to do with conservation, environmental protection, national parks, environmental law, and historical discoveries in biology.
Chemistry-Students can work on projects that deal with ethics of chemical discoveries or the impact that chemical discoveries had on historical themes (social groups, politics, economics, labor).
Physics-Similar to chemistry, discoveries in physics have led to major revolutions in different historical topics and themes.
Historical fiction-Many students have a hard time reading the dry historical studies that historians tend to publish. Without a narrative, some students will not attempt to tackle history studies. Fortunately, there are several historical fictions at differentiated levels. These narratives provide students with opportunities to read history while enjoying a good novel. These novels can be compared to historical readings in history class and students can explore how the fiction compared to the non-fiction.
Eras affect literature/historical study of literature-Ideas, beliefs, and perspectives affect what human beings create, including literature. If students read different literary works from the same time period or geographical area, they can analyze them historically. Students can search for topics and themes that are specific to that area, or come up with their own opinion of what topics and themes they can find. This would give relevance to reading older writing that many students dread (not many are excited to read Shakespeare). Historiographical examination can also be done. Sticking with Shakespeare, parodies and reenactments of Romeo and Juliet have been continually done throughout the generations. Comparing these different pieces, students could write about the values and ideas of the society during the time those renditions were created.
Writing and Research-ELA teachers who have their students write often will assign some kind of research paper. Students will learn the process of research and write on some type of article.
Collaboration essays-Students write an essay during their ELA and history class. ELA teachers will focus on grammatical elements and the history teacher focuses on argument and use of sources.
Portfolios-Students complete research assignments in history class, and in other classes, and add them to a portfolio that is organized and managed in the ELA classroom. ELA teachers will teach grammatical and literary concepts, in which students will practice on their writing assignments that are already completed.
Add-ons-Students will complete essays in other classes and then add on sections depending on what the ELA teacher wants. For example, if students complete a history paper, they will search for a novel that relates to the historical topic and add their analysis of the literary work to the research paper.
Websites-Building websites are becoming more popular. National History Day has a website category for their competitions. Computer tech instructors could teach on how to use different website programs, such as wikispaces and Omeca.
Documentaries-Short Films-There are many online programs that are needed to develop a film. Computer teachers can help students with these programs and gives students time to work on their film projects.
Exhibits-Exhibits for competitions and museums are physical, but the better ones have computer generated designs and graphics. Programs are needed for exhibit design and a lot of time needs to be spent on mastering these programs. Additionally, many exhibits are getting online portions that go along with them. These online elements could be paired with the website ideas listed above.
Exhibit Design-Construction possess complicated designs and mechanics that STEM classes can help with. Students can work on the designs and functions of these exhibits in STEM classes, while working on the project research in history class. The study of architecture can especially be important to the design of intricate exhibits.
Performance props are needed for documentaries and performances. These can be designed and adjusted in STEM class.
Research and writing can be paired with history and STEM. The effects of technologies on social groups, politics, and economics are some of the collaboration topics that can be used.
Research and Writing-History of health organization, health movements, disease and medicine, gender identity (nursing), social group development, and developing a healthy society and community. History of sports and events. Impact of sports on social groups, economics, and politics.
Art History-Understanding how the styles that impacted art largely come from historical movements and themes is the obvious way to go, but there is much more.
Expressing an argument-Art has a way of reaching people like no other median. Art can reach around the world through the multimedia that many students have access to; therefore, students can be challenge to see how far their art can ‘travel.’
Exhibit Design-If students are designing exhibits or posters for some kind of historical argument, a collaboration of an art class could teach students about several presentation styles (ie. color, lines, shapes, texture, space) and their impact on an audience.
Script Creation-Students can work with a director or knowledgeable theater teacher on the mechanics of creating a script.
Prop Design-Students can work with a stage manager on how to create effective props and stage pieces.
Exhibit Creation-Many home economics courses still teaching sewing and crafting, which can be used to add interesting presentation layers to an exhibit or performance project.