Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Teaching


Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education


College of Education


McBee, Robin Haskell


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


Elementary Education and Teaching


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.