I teach ninth grade English at Hill Regional Career Magnet High School in New Haven, Connecticut. Being a magnet high school, Career focuses on two main areas: Health/Science and Business. We are continually trying to integrate these areas into every aspect of our students' academic lives. This inter-disciplinary approach increases students' awareness of the connectedness life and academics offers. We offer
82 minute periods
rotating on an every other day schedule, which allows for deeper concentration on a single subject if warranted. The offered unit should take four to seven class days (approximately two to three weeks).
Being an English teacher it is imperative that I give the students the opportunity to acquire and maintain certain skills that will help them no matter what career they choose in the future. For example, students generally do not see the connection between being able to write a paper and practicing brain surgery or selling a car. Many adults today could not make that connection. However, most of us know that good writing feeds into learning good communications skills and learning how to improve one's writing and thinking abilities. But, again, on the average most students will not see the connection until late in their academic career. By expanding students' knowledge of expository writing, especially in science, they will have the opportunity to become better at expressing how something works and thinking about how to improve the product.
Why Teach This Unit
By bringing in science and business to the ninth grade English class I am giving the students their first opportunity to bridge the career areas and opportunities offered in high school. Most, if not all high schools teach science and business in some fashion (biology, physics, chemistry, keyboarding, computers, etc.), so this unit will be helpful to most high school English curricula, and possibly, with few changes, middle school English. I have tried to write it in simple scientific terms (terms that I, as an English teacher, can understand) in order to make it accessible to the non-scientific, so that science can extend, as it already naturally does, beyond the high school lab walls.
The unit combines science, writing, speaking, and marketing in a way to prepare students for the real world. The students are asked to research how something works, design the product or reproduce it on paper, create an ad campaign and present it to the class. This allows them an opportunity to utilize hands-on experience to increase their knowledge of an area of their choosing. This also allows them the opportunity to practice expository writing on how something works. Also, the students are asked to create an advertising campaign, which will increase their knowledge of advertising techniques and to learn how other people perceive things. They will then be asked to present their entire project to the class, which allows them the opportunity to practice speaking and marketing skills. This unit brings together a wide variety of areas that allow students to develop and grow around a scientific concept outside of a science classroom while encompassing the basic tenets of three of the Connecticut state standards:
Science Standard 1: Students will experience an inquiry-based learning environment in which they are free to ask questions, seek information and validate explanations in thoughtful and creative ways. Students also will understand that the processes, ways of knowing and conceptual foundations of science are interdependent and inextricably bound. ("Science Curriculum Framework", 6/28/03)
Language Arts Standard 1: Students will read and respond in individual, literal, critical, evaluative ways to literary, informational, and persuasive texts.
Language Arts Standard 2: Students will produce written, oral, and visual texts to express, develop and substantiate ideas and experiences.( "Language Arts Curriculum Framework", 6/28/03).