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Integrated Instruction: Rigor & Relevance

When addressing general learning - especially in K-6 - we must keep in mind that subjects cannot be separated from one another. An obvious example is science, which requires mathematics, writing, and usually reading. Mathematics word problems, of course, require skill in reading and logic. If we consider social studies, we quickly realize that reading, writing, science, and math concepts are usually necessary for appropriate learning experiences. The common element in all our learning is, of course, language, which we began learning before we were even born. As we grew and learned, we imitated our parents' oral language and learned to associate words with things we observed in our environment. Eventually, we began learning to read, which is simply associating written symbols with oral language. Reading opened us up to a variety of learning, but we had to practice reading on its own, for its own sake, as well as in the other subject areas. This is why schools nowadays often treat social studies as an important opportunity to develop students' reading skills in history, government, economics, geography, math, and science. By recognizing that language is the basis for all our learning, we are able to help students in every subject by improving their verbal, reading, and writing skills. In a sense, language skills are thinking skills, and blurring the boundaries between different school subjects enables us to help students in every subject. We, as tutors, can learn to recognize the various subjects embedded in our students' work, and not neglect certain parts of it just because our student needs "math tutoring" or "writing tutoring". We must address all of it simultaneously, and it is ultimately their critical thinking that is the target.

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