Classroom Spotlight: Social Studies, Language Arts, or Both?

This year, 5th graders have been engaging with news more than ever, thanks to our new class subscription to Time for Kids, in partnership with the Mifgash Project. Each week, students get to peruse the magazine of the week, answer comprehension questions, and do activities that come along with the articles. Each issue has a different theme, including artificial intelligence, global travel, animals, and charitable giving.

Every so often, a kid will pause and look up from their work and ask some version of the question “Is this language arts or social studies?” and I’m always thrilled to be able to say “Both!” because it truly is. Reading, writing, and analytical thinking about the topics at hand, all while thinking about what’s happening in the world and discussing with classmates is a true example of a time when the thin line between the two classes fades. 
It is always interesting to discuss current events with students, but I always find that 5th grade is a really special time for this. Some kids are really curious about news and have been for years, and others are only just starting to get into exploring the world that happens farther away from them. It’s a really wonderful thing to get to watch that awareness and interest develop as they begin to care more deeply about the world around them. (Something that we frequently remind them is developmentally typical, especially when we start puberty ed each January…)
Students know that when they come in on Monday mornings, they’ll have a calm entrance to the week as they read their own copy at their own pace in a (mostly) quiet classroom. Setting intentional routines throughout the week is a huge cornerstone of 5th grade, as it helps kids make the transition from one general studies classroom in lower school to multiple classrooms in middle school a little more straightforward, as they know what to expect throughout their week.