Whether we call it integrated curriculum, interdisciplinary studies, or reading and writing across the curriculum, such projects ask students to look beyond the books they read and make personal and far-reaching connections to other aspects of their lives. The English Journal article “Taking Time: Harry Potter as a Context for Interdisciplinary Studies” describes a project that bridged language arts, math, and science as students explore a series of activities related to their reading of Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. In addition to these activities, there are many other curricular connections that can be explored:
- Ask students to sketch out a hierarchical chart of the wizarding worlds government and compare it to the national U.S. and British governments.
- Extend the discussion of one of the magical creatures in the series by writing scientific descriptions of their habits, habitats, and physical features. Model the descriptions on an encyclopedia entry of a well-known animal or use a Web-based description of a zoo animal like the Giant Panda.
- Use Thinkfinity partner EconEdLinks Lost Memo to have students to connect the details from the Harry Potter novels to the currency exchange rate that affects businesses everywhere.
- Tap the exploration of race, class, sexuality, and gender in the English Journal article “Teaching English in the World: Playing with Critical Theory in J. K. Rowlings Harry Potter Series” to shape parallel discussions contrasting issues in social studies and history. For instance, invite comparisons of Hermiones S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Elvish Welfare) with the labor and anti-slavery movements in the U.S.
- Consider what Mona Lisa, James Weldon Johnson, or Sequoyah would say if they could talk and move around their portraits like the subjects of the paintings in the Harry Potter novels to explore art and history connections.
- Explore the language of advertising by asking students to create print, audio, or video advertisements for items that wizards would buy, a store a wizard might shop at, or a service that a wizard might hire someone to perform.
- Focus on technical and business writing by asking students to create resumes for characters in the book. Consult the ReadWriteThink lesson plan Book Report Alternative: Creating Careers for Characters for resources.
- Write a letter to the editor for a character, using the ReadWriteThink lesson plan Book Report Alternative: A Character’s Letter to the Editor for materials. Students might write on the same topics that Harry takes up in the novels or choose another topic—arguing for a pardon for Buckbeak, supporting Hermiones S.P.E.W. efforts, or responding to a news article included in one of the texts.