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Cross-Curricular and Integrated Learning in Language

Students need well-developed language and literacy skills to succeed in all subject areas, and rich language and literacy experiences deepen the conceptual understanding and strengthen the development of knowledge and skills in other subject areas. At the same time, the development of skills and knowledge in language is often enhanced by learning in other subject areas. Teachers should ensure that all students have ample opportunities to explore a subject from multiple perspectives by emphasizing cross-curricular learning and integrated learning. More information about integrating learning across the curriculum can be found in “Cross-Curricular and Integrated Learning”.

In cross-curricular learning, students are provided with opportunities to learn and use related content and/or skills in two or more subjects. For example, teachers can use social studies texts in their language lessons, and incorporate instruction in how to read and view non-fiction texts into their social studies lessons. In mathematics, students learn to apply their language and literacy skills to extract and interpret relevant information from a variety of representations, such as a given table, a graph, or an equation, to determine the 100th term of a pattern. They also learn when and how to use various modalities to represent mathematical information and express their thinking. For example, students can create a pattern using concrete materials and describe their pattern using gestures, words, algebraic expressions, or equations.

In every subject, students learn subject-specific terminology and how to use it with precision to communicate effectively. All subjects provide many opportunities for them to develop their language and literacy skills with authentic purposes for reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and representing.

Creative and critical thinking are at the heart of learning in all subject areas. For example, in science, students consider diverse perspectives as they develop innovative, ethical, and effective solutions to societal and environmental problems. In language, students are encouraged from a very early age to develop their ability to ask questions, to create texts addressing topics on diversity and inclusion, and to explore a variety of possible answers to those questions. As they progress through the grades, students’ critical thinking skills become more sophisticated as they learn that all sources of information have a particular point of view and that the recipient of the information has a responsibility to evaluate it, identify explicit and implicit biases, determine its validity and relevance, and use it in appropriate ways. The ability to locate, question, and validate information allows a student to become an independent, lifelong learner.

In integrated learning, students are provided with opportunities to meet expectations from two or more subjects within a single unit, lesson, or activity. By linking expectations from different subject areas, teachers can provide students with multiple opportunities to reinforce and demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a range of contexts. For example, in each grade, there are language and science and technology expectations that focus on learning about and making connections to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit knowledge systems and perspectives. There is, therefore, a good fit between these expectations in the two disciplines, affording an opportunity for developing integrated units.

Many expectations from the arts and language curricula can be linked to create integrated units and provide students with rich literacy experiences. For example, students will apply their language and literacy skills when describing and responding to works of art, and their arts literacy skills when interpreting, creating, and publishing multimodal or multimedia texts. Role-playing, a key component of the Drama strand in the arts curriculum, can be used to enhance students’ understanding of texts, to present a variety of points of view, and to explore new interpretations of texts. Students can draw storyboards as they develop, evaluate, and revise multimedia texts. They can use their understanding of cultural contexts and critical thinking skills to strengthen their critical analysis in the arts.