Date Approved

6-19-2008

Embargo Period

3-21-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.S. in Teaching

Department

Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education

College

College of Education

First Advisor

McBee, Robin Haskell

Subject(s)

Language arts (Elementary); Social sciences--Study and teaching (Elementary)

Disciplines

Elementary Education and Teaching

Abstract

The purpose of this exploratory investigation was to find out what happens when the integration of language arts and social studies lessons takes place in a unit on the Underground Railroad in a fourth grade classroom. By applying a literature-based approach to teaching social studies concepts and using the theme of the Underground Railroad, I was able to integrate these two subjects in a way that was engaging to my students. This study involves 23 fourth grade students and took place over a one week period. The intervention involved replacing the students' social studies textbook with multiple pieces of literature. Group work, activity centers, leveled reading groups, and a final essay were also techniques used throughout the unit to stimulate student learning and assess student comprehension. Observation notes from each lesson of the unit, an interview with a focus group of five students, and student work were the three forms of data used to analyze the intervention. Observation notes were the main form of data, while the interview and student work served the purpose of supporting or arguing the themes that emerged in the notes. The study found that students were able to learn social studies concepts through the use of literature, and the intervention also resulted in a positive change in student behavior during social studies classes as well as better attitudes towards social studies assignments.

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