Friday, January 4, 2013

Science AND History? A Necessary Decision...

Call me "old school" if you want, but I've always felt strongly about trying to teach both content areas each day. I just feel like 1). By 4th grade, the kiddos need to be exposed to both, especially since they'll have them both in 5th grade. 2). For some kids science or social studies is the highlight of their day. Back and forth I've gone, trying to decide if its best to teach both subjects each day or simply rotate every few weeks. I've even blogged about it before here.


Our new math program takes about an hour and a half. I have to find another time to do my own reading and math intervention groups. We have 45 minutes of PE and 30 minutes of computer lab everyday (for which I'm very grateful). Language arts encompasses so many skills and strategies that we could literally spend all day doing it. Something had to give!

So, I decided to try swinging to the side of some colleagues and teaching only science OR social studies each day. My coworker and I decided to do a chapter of one, then do a chapter of another, and flip-flop. Although I've agonized over this, after only two days I've found that there are some really great advantages to this set up:

  • Focus: This one is for me and the kiddos! I can do a much better job planning and teaching for just one, and I think the kiddos can absorb more this way. 
  • Quality: This sort of goes with focus, but now I have more time to plan more engaging lessons.
  • Less Pressure: Teaching one subject at a time frees the students and myself from yet another "thing" to cover each day. 
I think I'm really going to like this new set-up, but I'd love to hear what's working for you and your class. Have you been in my position? What do you do in your room? 


  1. I know a lot of teachers do this. We did something different this year in 5/6 grade at our small school. 4 of us teach the 4 classes we have of 5/6 grades. So one teaches, math, one teaches reading, one science, and one history. We all teach English.

    This has streamlined our planning and made that part easier! It gets the kids ready for 7 th grade with 6 different teachers. It keeps the kids from getting too bored because of the switching of classes.

    I have loved it so far!

    Hope your new schedule works out great! :)


  2. Hey-
    I'm Amy and your newest follower! :)

    I completely understand your situation. In my classroom, we're doing the same as what you're moving towards. We teach a block of science for a unit and then a block of social studies. The students do well with the blocking system and we have enough time to cover all of the necessary material and then some. The only down fall is when our social studies unit takes a little longer and the kiddos want to jump back into science. For me as the teacher, it's way easier for planning. With only 45 min. to teach either subject area, I don't know how I would be able to get both subject areas in and do them well. Let me know how it goes for you?

    Take care,
    Turtley Loving Teaching

  3. I can sympathise completely with your dilemma! Alongside Mathematics and Literacy (Language Arts topics), we need to cover Science, History, Technology and Health topics.

    I use to do one different topic a day, but always felt disconnected to the topic if it was continued for half a term (which is most of the time), the next week we went back to it. I would only be able to do a 45-60 minute lesson per day on the subjects.

    This year I want to do things differently, and run with a topic every day for a week, or 2, as long as it takes to get through a certain topic, integrating my technology. I can see benefits, particularly when it comes to Science, as they can take SO much time to set up sometimes. I hated to set up and take down EVERY Wednesday. If I do it my new way, I'd do Science for 2 weeks, and hopefully all of my materials can stay 'set up' - saving a bit of hassle.

    I'm hoping the kids won't forget what we are learning, if I do it in this fashion as well. This will allow me to introduce more focused inquiry without losing focus on what we were doing.

    I will be teaching a Year 4/5 class at a new school here in Australia - hoping my plan fits in with the school curriculum!

  4. Thanks so much for all your comments! It has really validated my decision and made me feel better about doing it. And after a week, I can honestly say that I'm really loving focusing on just one content area. I think my kiddos are getting more out of the lessons.

    Just hearing that other teachers out there have been where I am is helpful. Thanks for the support!




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