We sent out the 3 CCL units and standards to 15 ELA within driving distance to our school. We gave them about a month to look over them as well as the questions that we were going to discuss.
On Saturday, January 5th, 2019, we met in one of our classrooms and discussed the focus group questions together. It lasted about an hour and although we did not pay these teachers for their time and feedback, we did feed them.
Of our fifteen originally committed teachers, nine of them were present for the focus group meeting and one sent us their thoughts through email. The makeup of our focus group consisted of three districts, five schools, four male teachers and six female teachers, and spanned from ELA classes grades eight through twelve.
The units were well-received and we gathered great thoughts and feedback regarding our units. The benefits of CCL and the alignment of standards were agreed to be a greater alternative to teaching content areas completely separately.
The alignment of multiple content area standards made sense to the participants in both the classroom as well as what they students would take with them to college, professional life, and personal development.
The reservations of teachers revolved around the comfort level of ELA teachers teaching math and science concepts as well as the complications of aligning with other content areas and the fear of administrative control.
Some of the teachers took notes during the discussion and I would advise others who conduct focus groups to suggest that participants bring their notes already typed up. This would have helped more in data collection and participant familiarity with the questions.
We decided on the following questions for our focus group.
These questions were supplied along with our units to 15 teachers via email. We are working on setting up a time to meet that fits everyone's schedules.
During the process of gathering all of the standards that would have cross application, we were surprised to see the range of content area standards and how they overlap. Most standards are eligible as applicable to our study as they overlap, however, there are significant gaps where we wanted to reference topics, and yet, there are no standards available for content areas. Mainly, we were hoping to find ANY standards for psychology, philosophy, anthropology, and sociology. So many of the overlaps between Language Arts and these soft sciences are simply not addressed in any content area standards.
We listed each unit with the English Language Arts standards and then all other content area standards by subject. We began with the Night Unit, then Math/Science Unit, and lastly, the Music Analysis Unit.
The next step after gathering the standards was placing them in into the appropriate lesson plans. One of the struggles with the Math/Science Unit was deciding which ones to include seeing that the students themselves are choosing the topics, and thus, the standards that would be implemented with their work. We decided to list all that applied for the 11-12 grade band.
This part of the project honestly took more of our time than we had originally projected. We started our units by going over the ELA 11-12 standards and yet we ended our units with by going over the various content area standards. Our work was sandwiched by standards. We concluded with the realization that CCL would be much more difficult to implement and share without the common core standards in use today.
Today we submitted the IRB. Honestly, we did not think that we would have to complete an IRB since this is a creative project thesis. It makes since now as we are going to be asking about 20 teachers questions during an open discussion. We want to make sure that everything we ask them is ethical and reviewed beforehand.
We will NOT be working with collecting any data or responses from students: only other teachers.
This is the blog/reflection for the Master's Creative Project of Nik Rice and Chris Peck on "The Utility of Cross-Curricular Learning in the ELA Classroom." This is where you will find our thoughts, frustrations, and successes while creating these units.
This blog is to serve as a tool for other educators and for the purpose of reflection of the creators of the unit, and was implemented during the proposal defense portion of the project and should be seen as a heads up or "what worked and what did not work" for other ELA teachers who are about to use these units or any units that implement CCL into their teaching.
Chris Peck and Nik Rice teach ELA in Utah.