Category Archives: Integrated Lessons

Integrating ELA, math, and science

In this post, I continue a thought experiment. Can a lesson really integrate ELA, math, and science in a meaningful way?

In my previous post, I showed how to choose standards in science, ELA, and mathematics for an integrated lesson. Here is the lesson objective I wrote: Students will be able to write an argument about the effect of gravity on a falling object that uses real-world data as a source of evidence.

I base this lesson on an Exploratorium activity. I am only using the idea for how to gather evidence for the argument in this lesson.

Gathering evidence using mathematics skills

The data sources that we have to use to gather evidence for this argument are the data table and the video of the falling object.


What evidence can students gather? We have visual evidence and numeric evidence. In the video, students should notice that the object moves down. In the data table, students should notice that the object moves down 0.51 meters in 0.330 seconds.

A very simple argument could be made with that evidence. However, if students use their mathematics skills with number and operations in base ten to look at the data table a little more closely, they can notice more. What can we notice about how far the object falls between each video frame?

By using Google Sheets, we can calculate the how far the object fell from one frame to the next. We can use Google Sheets to calculate the difference. By creating a formula and copying it down the column, the spreadsheet calculates the differences for us.

Lori Andersen

Students can look for patterns in data. They notice that the time between each frame is the same (0.033 seconds is 30 frames per second), but the distance the object falls between each frame increases. Students can relate the increasing distance to how the object gets faster as it falls. The data shows that in the last two frames, the object falls about 20 times farther than it did in the first 2 frames. This kind of thinking requires students to build a solid understanding of number and operations in base ten. This brings in another mathematics standard that I did not include in my previous post. My original idea was that the most important math skills would be representing and interpreting data.

(Side note: The mathematics became a little complicated for Grade 5. In another post, I explore a different way to represent data for falling objects.)

Writing the argument using ELA skills

In the argument, we want students to make a claim that Earthʻs gravity pulls on the object. What could a studentʻs argument look like? In ELA, students learn to write opinion pieces. Four ELA standards focus are related to this task.

    Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which ideas are logically grouped to support the writer’s purpose.
    Provide logically ordered reasons that are supported by facts and details.
    Link opinion and reasons using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., consequentlyspecifically).
    Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.

So we see that there is a close link among these standards in science, ELA and mathematics. If we know what students are learning in the other content areas, we should be able to do some integration.

What do you think of this integrated approach? What integrated approaches have you used in your teaching? Tell me in the comments.

For more about this idea, see my next blog post

Integrating Science, ELA, and Mathematics

In my post No Time for Science?, I presented a way to increase the amount of science time in elementary school. We can use the overlaps in the practices among ELA, mathematics, and science to create integrated lessons. In this post, I present a thought experiment using one standard, 5.PS2-1, about gravity.

5.PS2-1 Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is down.

Letʻʻs start by identifying the standards in ELA that focus on argumentation. One ELA standard is about supporting a point of view with reasons and information in writing.

Miguel Á. Padriñán

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.1 – Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.

There are four more standards related to this one about the skills students should be using as they write to support their point of view with reasons and information that can inform the lesson. Other standards in Grade 5 ask students to identify which reasons and evidence support which points. So we see that Grade 5 ELA skills can be practiced in the context of written arguments about the effect of Earthʻs gravity on objects.

What about mathematics? Mathematical Practice 3 is about constructing arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others and is clearly connected to this NGSS Performance Expectation. However, none of the CCSS for Grade 5 mathematics specifically call out this practice. It is up to the teacher to decide how to incorporate arguments and reasoning in mathematics instruction. We could decide to connect this to a standard about data.


CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.B.2 – Represent and interpret data.

This combination of standards makes sense because students could look at distance data for a falling object to argue about the effect of gravity.

Now that I have a standard from each domain. I proceed to creating an objective for an integrated lesson. I found this lesson idea from The Exploratorium. I modify it to make it more appropriate for Grade 5 by focusing on the data table only and ignoring the calculations. The activity describes how to collect data about a falling object with video. I can drop an object alongside a meter stick and record it on video. I can go through the video frame by frame to collect distance and time data. Or, I can use the sample data provided on the website.


Lesson Objective: Students will be able to write an argument about the effect of gravity on a falling object that uses real-world data as a source of evidence.

Notice that my lesson objective includes content from all three subjects.

ELA: Students will create a written argument.

Science: Students will argue about the downward effects of gravity.

Math: Students will interpret data.

What do you think of this as a Grade 5 activity? What examples do you have of integrated lesson objectives? Share in the comments.

For more about the development of this lesson, see my next post.