CorePlanner Blog


Teaching Across the Silos

Recently a colleague shared a perspective which struck me: Moving from class to class is like showing up to a brand new job each class period. Imagine having to switch jobs on the hour, having to meet different expectations and having to bring a unique set of skills and knowledge each time. I’ll speak for myself and admit; that would be difficult for me.

As classrooms become more collaborative and schools make efforts to team teach, different contents are overlapping and students are learning material across silos. If this is a term that is new for you, teaching across silos simply means to break down the barriers that kept different subjects separate or, in silos.

Typically, overlap from social studies or history to the language arts, is accomplished through aligning reading material and writing prompts. Things get trickier when schools hope to incorporate science and math throughout the curriculum.

However tricky, it is possible to incorporate math and science across the curriculum. To begin with, the Common Core State Standards emphasize non-fiction reading. Non-fiction reading has historically incorporated material from social studies, which makes sense because many states used social studies material on state exams. CCSS is expanding the notion of non-fiction to emphasize STEM texts.

I have taken demo test of the PARCC and the Smarter Balanced assessments and both pull readings from scientific material to assess non-fiction comprehension. What’s more, many passages also have a graph to analyze with the text. This push encourages incorporating material from math and science in the ELA classroom.

Another way I’m sneaking in some science is by asking students to write about non-fiction, scientific topics. For example, my first writing unit is journalism. My students will be taking a trip to a science classroom to report on a lab experiment. It feels like writing, but it’s science, too. Plus, it ensures that students aren’t asked to check their content knowledge from other subjects at the door when they enter your classroom.

Do you know of any excellent non-fiction reading resources?

Will you be making an effort to teach across the silos this year? I will.

-¬‐ Annie Krut, M.Ed.

Annie is on a mission to teach kids the skills they need to be happy. She’s using neuroscience, the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. Get the curriculum at and join the conversation on Twitter @eighthugs.