Integrated Curriculum Guide  
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Intro Definition Why? Examples How to Find Out More

How to
Teaching an Integrated Curriculum The challenge of teaching an integrated curriculum is structuring properly so as to teach the desired skill set. The problems formulated for the students to solve must reference their specific life experiences, be engaging without frivolous, and must challenge the student intellectually. As integrated curriculum receives more attention, however, there are an increasing amount of teaching aides designed to help the teacher integrate curriculum in an effective manner. Though it may require more work initially, in the end it is no more work intensive than the more traditional teaching method and is more rewarding for both the teacher and the student.

Teacher should be warned, however - integrated curriculum is not the panacea for all educational problems. In the words of Jere Brophy and Janet Alleman, "Just because an activity crosses subject-matter lines does not make it worthwhile; it must also help accomplish educational goals." (66). The integrated curriculum approach should be viewed as a tool that can help educate students and engage them in the learning process. It is not an end in and of itself.

Following are some tips to help get you started teaching integrated curriculum. For more specific help, or for more information about teaching aides, contact the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) [www.ascd.org]. Long a respected association with the field of education, the ASCD offers more information about integrated curriculum, as well as how to teach it.

Things to Remember (Brandt 26):

  1. Start small: you donít have to have a comprehensive program to start integrating curriculum. Start with activities like teaching demographics and statistics during a unit on immigration in late 19th century America, or reading The Diary of Anne Frank while studying World War II.
  2. Communicate: Talk to other teachers who might be interested, or just to find out what they are teaching and when.
  3. Time: Scheduling can be one of the most important factors for starting an integrated curriculum program. Large blocks of time used by teams of teachers work the best.
The following is a well-researched model for starting an integrated curriculum model within a school (Jacobs 27-28).
    Phase I: Conducting Action Research
    (6 months - 1 year)

  • Conduct internal research to find out what each teacher teaches and when. This is to avoid teaching information more than once, and to identify areas that could be integrated. One way to do this is to plot what is taught in each subject month-by-month.
  • Conduct external research to Find Out More about integrated curriculum. A good place to start is the October 1991 issue of Educational Leadership (vol. 49, no. 2). This magazine, a publication of the ASCD, provides a good overview of integrated curriculum including definitions, how to teach it, examples, models, and resources. It also lists publications for further reading on the subject. Other areas of research could be on team building, scheduling alternatives, different approaches to evaluation and assessment, and "writing across content areas."
    *This phase could be accomplished through a Teacher Study Group as described in the Professional Development portion of this Web site.
    Phase II: Develop a Proposal
    (2 - 4 months in the 1st year)
  • Assess areas that could overlap subjects. Maybe start by updating existing units with increased collaboration between teachers.
  • Create a proposal that outlines "how to evaluate, budget, timeline, teachersí responsibilities", etc.
  • After proposal is evaluated and critiqued by the board, LSC, etc, try it out in class.
    Phase III: Implement and Monitor the Pilot
    (2nd year)
  • Evaluate the program: see how well the team of teacher is functioning, how time schedules work (enough?, too much?), what resources materials work/donít work.
  • Record data/findings so that the program can be adjusted accordingly.
  • Conduct regular team meetings to discuss progress.
    Phase IV: Adopt Program
    (3rd year)
  • Make the program a permanent part of the curriculum "Planning Wheels" can help you design a curriculum that is integrated around a subject area. They can help organize information so that specific educational goals are met. The following is just one example (Palmer 57-60):

page1: Introduction
page2: What is integrated curriculum?
page3: Why?
page4: Examples
page5: How to
page6: Find Out More
 
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