Monday, February 1, 2016

Connecting the Curriculum - Feathers

Each semester I teach a course entitled Content and Pedagogy for Science and Social Studies. While we focus on best practices for instruction, we also focus on subject specific methods. In the introductory weeks we look at a wide range of texts and I model how they can be used in science and social studies instruction.

I love this class, but it's sometimes hard to convince my students that these subjects can play nicely together. (I'll admit this isn't ideal. I'd love a course devoted to each of the subjects.) Since my class focuses on two seemingly unrelated curricular areas, I thought that this would be a good time to start a new series of posts that highlights the ways in which they can be connected.

I'm launching this series today with the theme of FEATHERS.

Feathers are a unique physical adaptation found only in birds. But what are they? What are they used for? You'll find these answers and much more in this terrific informational book.
written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen

Melissa has a Pinterest board with lots of teaching ideas and resources for using the book in the classroom. You'll also find a Teacher's Guide on her web site, as well as a Readers Theater script, math activity, and more.

You can pair Melissa's book with this podcast from BirdNote. This just-under two minute segment describes how down feathers serve to keep bird's warm (insulate them) in very cold weather.

This podcast mentions how "People learned years ago how well goose-down insulates and began stuffing comforters, sleeping bags, and clothing with it." This use of feathers as a natural resource provides a connection to economics and another book.
written by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Laura Seeley

In this story, Agatha explains to a young boy visiting her shop that “everything comes from something”—silk from silkworms, cotton from cotton bolls, wool from sheep, and linen from flax. She tells him:
"Everything comes from something,
 Nothing comes from nothing.
 Just like paper comes from trees,
 And glass comes from sand,
 An answer comes from a question.
 All you have to do is ask."
That evening, a group of naked geese wake her from her sleep and remind her that “everything comes from something,” and that her new feather bed is made from their feathers. (Please note that I am not endorsing the use of down, just highlighting it as a historically accurate use of a natural resource. Please read Can Down Be Ethical or Green to learn about ethical options to down feathers. )

Peachtree Publishing has a helpful Teacher's Guide for this book.
KidsEconPosters has a page on the book that explores how it can be used to teach economics concepts that include natural resources, goods & services, economic wants, productive resources, capital resources, and human resources.
You might want to consider making an "Everything Comes From Something" resource kit so students can see the natural resources used to make everyday items. You can also try this lesson from Virginia's Ag in the Classroom program entitled Resource Round-Up.

There you have it, feathers as a theme for connecting science and social studies. I hope you found this helpful. If you have ideas or resources to contribute, please share them in the comments. I'll be back next week with another post on Connecting the Curriculum.