The Value of Integrated Curriculum
The Value of Integrated Curriculum
?Introduction The integrated curriculum is a great gift to experienced teachers. It’s like getting a new pair of lenses that make teaching a lot more exciting and help us look forward into the next century. It is helping students take control of their own learning. I’m learning more in this course, and I’m doing better than I used to do when social studies and English were taught separately. This teacher and student express an increasingly widespread enthusiasm for curriculum integration. While not necessarily a new way of looking at teaching, curriculum integration has received a great deal of attention in educational settings.
Based both in research and teachers’ own anecdotal records of success, educational journals are reporting many examples of teachers who link subject areas and provide meaningful learning experiences that develop skills and knowledge, while leading to an understanding of conceptual relationships. Definitions Integrated curriculum, interdisciplinary teaching, thematic teaching, synergistic teaching…. When attempting to define integrated curriculum, it is also necessary to look at related terms. Several definitions are offered here.
As this paper is narrowed to K-12 integrated curriculum, definitions from vocational and higher education are not included, although there is a growing interest in both of those areas in the interdisciplinary, integrated curriculum. The reader interested in specifics about interdisciplinary work in those fields is invited to consult the General References at the end of this report. A basic definition is offered by Humphreys (Humphreys, Post, and Ellis 1981) when he states, “An integrated study is one in which children broadly explore knowledge in various subjects related to certain aspects of their environment” (p.11).
He sees links among the humanities, communication arts, natural sciences, mathematics, social studies, music, and art. Skills and knowledge are developed and applied in more than one area of study. In keeping with this thematic definition, Shoemaker defines an integrated curriculum as … education that is organized in such a way that it cuts across subject matter lines, bringing together various aspects of the curriculum into meaningful association to focus upon broad areas of study. It views learning and teaching in a holistic way and reflects the real world, which is interactive.
Within this framework there are varied levels of integration, as illustrated by Palmer (1991, p. 59), who describes the following practices: • Developing cross-curriculum sub objectives within a given curriculum guide • Developing model lessons that include cross-curricular activities and assessments • Developing enrichment or enhancement activities with a cross-curricular focus including suggestions for cross-curricular “contacts” following each objective • Developing assessment activities that are cross-curricular in nature • Including sample planning wheels in all curriculum guides.
What is integrated curriculum? is important to understand that curriculum integration is an idea that has a strong historical background. Disciplines were created in an attempt to organize the world around them; sometimes this was motivated by political means (Beane 1991). Educational reform has roots dating as far back as the progressive era. The philosophy behind educational reform during the progressive era centered around an emphasis on student creativity, applicable outcomes, “natural” learning, and student experience (Rousmaniere, 1999).
This belief system has been the fundamental base for integrated curriculum. Supporters of the progressive educational reform believed that the different disciplines prevented students from making connections between the different subjects. Therefore, the relevance of the material decreased (Taylor, 1995). Components of Integrated Curriculum Focuses on basic skills, content and higher level thinking Encourages lifelong learning Structures learning around themes, big ideas and meaningful concepts.
Provides connections among various curricular disciplines Provides learners opportunities to apply skills they have learned Encourages active participation in relevant real-life experiences Captivates, motivates, and challenges learners Provides a deeper understanding of content Offers opportunities for more small group and industrialized instruction Accommodates a variety of learning styles/theories (i. e. , social learning theory, cooperative learning, intrinsic motivation, and self-efficacy) and multiple intelligences RESPONSIBILITY.
Supportive partnerships around a child provide the kind of environment in which families, schools, and the community work together to achieve and sustain shared goals for children. Ongoing communication and interaction encourages appropriate and effective learning opportunities for children. A well-defined plan is required for incorporating a wide range of family involvement and educational opportunities into the early childhood education program. Trust and respect are essential to building collaborative and interactive relationships between school staff and families.
These relationships promote the sharing of ideas and learning from each other. An integral component of the partnership is the recognition of the family members as the experts on their children. The program and the program staff must always show respect for the child, the family and the culture of the home. Governance and Structure The program design provides structure and policies that encourage and support partnerships among home, school and the community at large: Family members are involved in aspects of program design and governance (e. g. , advisory councils and school leadership/management teams).
Opportunities are provided for preschool staff and families to develop the skills necessary to actively and effectively participate in the governance process (e. g. , workshops offered by the program, seminars sponsored by the Department of Education, speakers and activities sponsored by colleges and universities and/or child advocacy organizations). Advisory council meetings and parent programs are held at times conducive to family participation (i. e. , activities are not always scheduled at 3 p. m. or at 9 a. m. when most people are at work). Program policies actively encourage and support family involvement (e.g. , family members are welcomed as volunteers in the classrooms and other areas within the program, family members are encouraged to observe in classrooms, family members see and interact with program administrators formally and informally).
Culture and Diversity The program design ensures recognition and respect for culture and diversity: Classroom materials reflect the characteristics, values and practices of diverse cultural groups (e. g. , there are books in a variety of languages; the art work reflects a broad spectrum of people living and working in many different locations and climates).
Cultural and religious practices are acknowledged and respected throughout the year (e. g. , absences for religious holidays are allowed, dietary restrictions are respected, culturally driven reasons for nonparticipation in some school activities are honored). The uniqueness of each family is recognized and respected by all members of the school community (e. g. , language, dress, structure, customs). Cultural traditions are shared in the classroom and throughout the program (e. g. , pictures of specific activities that a student may have participated in are displayed in the classroom).
Community Resources and Partnerships The program design ensures opportunities for building partnerships and accessing community resources: Information and referrals regarding community resources are provided to the family, such as employment, health and adult education classes. Large corporations, small businesses and other organizations are invited to collaborate in supporting children and families (e. g. , creating a community resource board). Collaborations between the program and community agencies are facilitated to ensure delivery of services to the family (e.g. , a program can offer a meeting space for families to interact with community agencies).
Family Support The program design recognizes the family as the expert about its child. Resources are provided to the family members to enhance the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of their children (e. g. , a newsletter with ideas for educational trips, a listing of books to support the development of emergent literacy and numeracy skills, discussion sessions to share information about activities at local museums and libraries).
Support networks among families with children enrolled in the program are developed (e. g. , monthly potlucks, game days for adults, fairs and craft shows to promote and support the talents of families, babysitting cooperatives, welcome wagons and buddy families). Family activities are planned at varying times of the day and week to encourage the participation of as many families as possible (e. g. , at breakfast, at the end of the work day and on weekends). Encourage family members to visit the program when it is most convenient for them (e. g., to observe their child, volunteer during play, participate at meals and special events).
Physical Environment Provides learning centers that encourage integration of multiple content areas (e. g. , in the library center there will be big books, picture books, books with words for adults to read, books representing a broad range of topics, headsets with audiotapes, stories on the computer; in the block center there will be large unit blocks, hollow blocks, cardboard vehicles, audio tapes, pencil, paper and architectural magazines). Accommodates active and quiet activities (e. g., the library area may be for children wanting to read alone, quietly listen to a book read by an adult or listen to music through head sets; while the block area encourages lots of movement and discussion to plan and complete projects).
Provides materials that deepen awareness and knowledge of diversity and multiculturalism (e. g. , dolls of different ethnicities and race, musical instruments from a variety of cultures, stories that show how one event is interpreted differently by different cultural groups). Allows children easy access to materials. Provides an ample supply of materials.
Offers opportunities for solitary, parallel and group play in view of an adult. Provides space for individual, small- and large-group experiences, both indoors and outdoors. Displays classroom materials at children’s eye level. Creates a literacy-rich environment through a variety of sources for print, audio, video and non-print media. Daily Routines Encourage the development of self-confidence by offering multiple opportunities for making choices, such as deciding on projects, selecting centers or inviting classmates to be a part of an activity. Encourage curiosity, problem-solving and the generation of ideas and fantasy through exploration.
Include activities to meet the individual needs of all children and provide opportunities for success (e. g. , recognizing that a particular student would benefit from more fine motor activities by collaborating on a painting activity). Provide opportunities for talk and self-expression in English and in the child’s home language. Encourage and model the use of language in different social groups and situations. Stimulate questioning and discussions during all activities. Include the use of technology, such as computers with age-appropriate software, to enhance the development of critical thinking skills.
RESPONSIBILITIES (Major responsibilities and target accomplishments expected of the position including the typical problems encountered in carrying out the responsibilities. ) 1. Develop and implement a developmentally appropriate preschool program for young children Main Activities ? Plan and implement activities to meet the physical, emotional, intellectual and social needs of the children in the program ? Provide nutritious snacks and lunches ? Provide adequate equipment and activities ? Ensure equipment and the facility are clean, well maintained and safe at all times ?
Provide weekly and monthly schedules of activities ? Develop culturally appropriate programs and activities ? Develop activities that introduce math and literacy concepts ? Establish policies and procedures including acceptable disciplinary policies ? Be familiar with emergency procedures FAIRNESS “Life isn’t fair! ” How many times has someone said this to you? How many times have you said that phrase to the children in your life? Fairness is one of the Six Pillars of Character Education; the other five are “trustworthiness,” “respect,” “responsibility,” “caring” and “citizenship.
” Good character traits don’t just happen – they need to be taught and nurtured in children. Fairness is something that we all want in our daily interactions, and something that all children need to learn. Fairness can mean many things, including taking turns, sharing with others, playing within the rules, listening to others and seeing the many sides of one issue. Here are some suggestions you might want to employ when teaching “fairness” to young children: Set a good example for the children in your life. You are your child’s first teacher and your children watch everything you do.
If you are fair with others, your children will mimic your behavior. Treat everyone fairly. Make fairness a priority in your home. Having rules in place can teach children that there are boundaries and limits in life. As children mature, the kind and number of rules can change to fit the age and stage of the child’s development. Listen and get down on the child’s level so they know you are listening. When a child is listened to, he learns that he is important and he will learn to listen to others. Look directly at your child. Give children lots of opportunities to practice being “fair.
” Have a child divide up the afternoon snack between siblings, and then let all others choose their portion before he gets his. When children play with children their own age and developmental stage, they have greater opportunities for learning fairness. Observe “fair” and “unfair” behavior in movies, children’s books and in life. Discuss those behaviors with your child. Asking, “What could he have done instead? ” is one way to assist your child in thinking about “fair” options. Watch for things your child is doing “right” and let them know that you noticed.
Show appreciation and admiration when your child behaves in a “fair” manner to others. Talk about what they did that was “fair” and how proud it makes you feel that they are treating others in a way that they want to be treated. Play with your children. Give children opportunities to play card and board games that can teach fairness skills. Model good sportsmanship when it comes to winning and losing. Children will learn how to behave with others through play. On the Job Overview Preschool and kindergarten teachers help children explore their interests and develop their talents.
They help children build self-esteem and learn how to behave with others. Do you enjoy working with children? Like to get your hands dirty with paint and Play-Doh? Wish to make a difference in someone’s life? Then working as a preschool or kindergarten teacher might be a good choice for you. Preschool and kindergarten teachers work in child care centers, nursery schools, and preschools. They also work in public schools and in their own homes. In addition to taking care of children’s basic needs, they organize activities to help children grow and learn.
Teachers plan games and tasks that foster children’s physical, emotional, mental, and social growth. Preschool and kindergarten teachers spend most of their day working with children. However, they also meet with parents to discuss each child’s progress and needs. Many teachers of young children keep progress records for each child. They suggest ways that parents can improve their child’s development at home. Most preschool and kindergarten teachers perform a combination of basic care and teaching duties. Through basic care activities, teachers often provide a chance for children to learn.
For example, a teacher who shows a child how to tie his shoe teaches the child and provides for his basic needs. Children at this age five or younger learn mainly through play. Thus, preschool and kindergarten teachers build their programs around play. For example, they might improve children’s social skills by having them work together to build a city in a sandbox. They encourage language development through storytelling and acting games. They have children use science and math concepts by balancing blocks to build a bridge, or mixing colors to paint.
Teachers of young children use less structure in their approach. They use small group lessons and one-on-one teaching. They allow children to learn through creative activities, such as art, dance, and music. In addition, teachers plan each day’s activities to ensure a well-balanced program. They include individual and group play, and active and quiet time. Helping to keep children healthy is an important part of the job. Preschool and kindergarten teachers serve nutritious meals and snacks. They teach good eating and personal cleanliness habits. They make sure that children have rest periods.
In addition, they identify children who may not feel well, or who show signs of developmental problems. They discuss these matters with their supervisor and with the child’s parents. Teachers of young children may also help identify children with special needs. Work Activities The following list of occupational tasks is specific to this career. Organize activities that develop children’s physical, emotional, mental, and social growth. Maintain contact with parents or guardians through informal meetings or conferences. Keep records of each child’s progress.
Make suggestions to parents for activities to do at home. Provide learning opportunities through basic care activities. Encourage language development through reading, storytelling, and acting games. Improve social skills through discussions and cooperative activities. Introduce science and math concepts through building and counting activities. Encourage creative talents through art, dance, and music activities. Plan and develop each day’s activities. Balance group and individual play, and active and quiet time. Serve nutritious meals and snacks. Teach good eating and personal cleanliness habits.
Observe children to identify signs of illness or emotional or developmental problems. Confer with parents and supervisors about problems. Enforce school policies and rules regarding student behavior and safety. People in this career perform the following list of tasks, but the tasks are common to many occupations. Think creatively. Establish and maintain relationships. Care for others. Teach others. Make decisions and solve problems. Communicate with supervisors, peers, or subordinates. Get information needed to do the job. Organize, plan, and prioritize work. Coach others. Monitor events, materials, and surroundings.
Update and use job-related knowledge. Evaluate information against standards. Coordinate the work and activities of others. Schedule work and activities. Develop goals and strategies. Resolve conflicts and negotiate with others. Develop and build teams. Work with the public. Working Conditions In a typical work setting, people in this career: Interpersonal Relationships Have a high level of social interaction. They spend most of their time interacting with children and parents. Are often placed in conflict situations. Are responsible for the health and safety of young children.
Must sometimes deal with unpleasant, angry, or discourteous children or parents. Are sometimes responsible for work outcomes and results of other workers, such as a teacher aide. Speak in front of large groups on a weekly basis. Communicate with coworkers and parents weekly by telephone and e-mail. Write letters and memos on a weekly basis. Communicate with coworkers, parents, and children in person on a daily basis. Physical Work Conditions Often work indoors, but sometimes work outdoors supervising activities. Are sometimes exposed to diseases and infections.
Are sometimes exposed to sounds and noise levels that are distracting and uncomfortable, such as from a noisy classroom. Work very near children. They often work within inches of other people. Work Performance Must be very exact in their observation of children’s behavior. Identifying problems early allows children to have future success. Make decisions on a weekly basis that strongly impact parents and children. They consult supervisors for some decisions, but make most without talking to a supervisor. Are able to set most tasks and goals for the day without talking to a supervisor. Must meet strict deadlines on a monthly basis.