2. Instruction – The teacher uses research-based instructional practices to meet the needs of all students.
2.2 Engaging Students in Learning
Most activities and assignments are appropriate to students, and almost all students are cognitively engaged in exploring content.
The uniqueness of integrating multiple subject areas into lesson planning is that you can link multiple learning standards to one thematic topic. By integrating multiple subject areas, students are better able to connect new knowledge to the real world. For example, in one’s career, mathematical problems may need resolution when trying to resolve a spacial equation, such as the square footage of a space or volume of an area. Or in other cases, various mathematic equations may be utilized to resolve unforeseen circumstances. While students may work on learning the basics to resolving equations to find area, volume, etc., it is important that they have experience applying these basics to actual real-world situations. With an integrated curriculum, the classroom teacher can allow students multiple opportunities to do this in a variety of subject areas while working on one cohesive subject or topic. There also may be challenges that arise with integrating curriculum, based on the district or school that an educator works with. It is important that educators seek out opportunities to make learning meaningful, finding ways plan around situations that may not be a beneficial to that year’s population of students.
When designing an integrated curriculum, the educator should begin planning with using standards of learning as a baseline, applying these standards to various activities that correspond to one cohesive unit or topic. Figure 1 highlights a sample of a weekly curriculum outline showing one method of this organization.
In this scenario, students are introduced to a social studies subject area as a thematic topic while also integrating English, Art, Math, and Science subjects to develop a deeper understanding of this information. Drake and Burns (2004) discuss the importance of such an integration; that various degrees of evidence have proven that a plan such as this deepens students’ understanding of a subject area and how to resolve real-world problems. Not only does the classroom teacher address learning standards to meet whatever standardized testing hurdles are the current norm, but also creates a learning environment that is more cohesive and meaningful than a addressing a worksheet and textbook activity.
As a future elementary educator, I understand that this may be a difficult challenge. Moreover, in many districts, the curriculum is already planned and delivered to teachers and must be followed. Fortunately, even in these cases, I’m beginning to learn ways to integrate curriculum based on these limitations. As a teacher, one is a problem solver in providing a diversified and meaningful education to their students. The teacher should seek out opportunities to integrate curriculum based on the templates and standards that must be followed. In addition, being an advocate of making learning inspirational, memorable, and fun, it may be a fun challenge to seek opportunities to modify a current curriculum to be more meaningful and inspirational. The allowable modifications may differ depending on district and/or school, but ultimately, rules don’t necessarily need to be broken, just adjusted as long as students are still meeting standards.
Drake, S. M. & Burns, R. C. (2004). Meeting standards through integrated curriculum. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.