I am a graduate student at the University at Albany in the Curriculum Design and Instructional Technology Program. I am a public school teacher in New York and I teach 3rd and 4th grade in a multi-aged classroom. I am certified in 1-6 general and special ed. One day I hope to work as a specialist for a district helping classroom teachers and grade levels to revamp their curriculum and instruction based on research and evidence-based practices. I currently teach in a program that has its roots in Montessori or Waldorf models. Our four cornerstones are:
- Multi-aged Classrooms
- Parent Involvement
- Integrated Curriculum
- Nature Appreciation
My Topic and Purpose
The topic of this course is integrated curriculum.
Teaching using an integrated curriculum allows for:
- deeper understanding
- students to draw upon their strengths to support their weaker areas
- generalization of skills
- internalizing skills/ retention of knowledge
- student-focused learning
Teaching all subjects in a way that draws upon the rest allows for a deep and memorable understanding that students can apply outside of single scenarios because the skills were not taught in isolation.
By the end of this course participants will:
- identify examples of integrated curriculum. (Verbal and Intellectual Skill)
- identify reasons why integrated curricula leads to higher-level learning (Verbal and Intellectual Skill)
- apply their knowledge of integration to non-integrated curricula to create integrated units. (Intellectual and Cognitive Strategy)
- develop project-based assessments. (Verbal and Intellectual Skill)
- choose to teach using an integrated curricula. (Attitude)
1. Instructional problem: The need for professional development programs for elementary school teachers who may not have the knowledge, information or skills on how to integrate curriculum to deepen and enhance learning.
2. The nature of what is to be learned: Learners will gain the knowledge of how to integrate their curricula to create completely integrated units of study.
3. About the learners: Mini-course participants are elementary school teachers that work in various districts and job capacities. Participants are familiar with the Common Core Standards and New York State (EngageNY) standards. The participants have taught at least one or two Lucy Calkins units of study through readers or writers workshop. The participants are both intrinsically and externally motivated and will be actively creating their own units to use.
4. Instructional content: Every unit will follow the same layout. Units will begin with an overview of the learning objectives (target outcomes), followed by the topics to be learned in the form of a text based instruction or a video. The units will have models and activities for the participants to complete as part of scaffolding their way though integrating a unit and understanding why integrated curriculum is best. The participants will be posting pieces of their integrated units throughout the mini-course to show understanding and serve as peer-models/ provide peer feedback as well. Units will also contain scholarly articles and internet resources relevant to the topics. Each unit ends with a curriculum-based assignment, i.e. align your reading and writing topics for the year finding cross-cutting concepts. Upon completion of all units, participants will submit their integrated units for use as evidence of learning and complete a survey to reflect on the quality of instruction.
The mini-course has its roots in constructivism with the focus on "learner-centered activities, experiential learning theory, situated learning, learning as a social process whereby the learner constructs new concepts based on current knowledge, activities are designed around authentic tasks, and modeling concepts" (Anne Stalnecker).
5. Explore instructional problem/solution:
The instructional problem was that not all elementary school teachers are aware of, trained in, or using integrated curricula. This is an instructional problem because when students are taught using an integrated curricula they learn more, they assimilate and accommodate more into their schemas which allows for retention, they can draw upon their strong subjects or abilities to support them in their weaker areas and it allows for more project-based and student-led learning.
Years of research has been done to distinguish the benefits of integrated curriculum and is summarized here by Kevin C. Costley, "Based on the brief literature review, the use of integrated curriculum is useful and effective in public school classrooms. Integrating the curriculum actively engages students in lessons and extends their thinking skills. Integrated curriculum also allows students to make connections among different subject areas and to their own lives. When students make these connections and understand why they need to know certain skills or pieces of knowledge, the learning process becomes positive for the students. A deeper level of meaning is connected to the content and skills that the students learn while engaged in the integrated curriculum. Integrating the curriculum is an incredibly important issue in the field of education. As mentioned by Campbell and Henning (2010), knowledge today is becoming more interdisciplinary and integrated, which calls for more interdisciplinary and integrated learning in public schools. Teachers are continually looking for ways to engage their students and deepen their understanding of the content. Integrating the curriculum is one way to accomplish that goal. According to Bolak, Bialach, and Dunphy (2005), when students get the opportunity to discover new knowledge and apply that knowledge, they are more likely to succeed. Gains in achievement are noticeable, especially when students are engaging in hands-on activities. Achievement gaps can also diminish with the use of an integrated curriculum, especially gaps between science and math (Becker & Park, 2011)" (2015).
6. Generate goals:
The goals for this course will be to teach about integrated curricula, and then show models of how to integrate already existent curial into units of study while the participants use the information and model to create their own integrated units.
Analysis of the Learner and Context
- See Needs Assessment*
- Given research-based evidence on teaching using integrated curricula, participants will list at least 3 reasons why integrated units lead to higher-level learning.
- Given the teacher-model and explanation of choosing a science or social studies topic to drive an integrated unit, students will chose a science of social studies topic from their grade-level curricula to use in their unit of study.
- Given teacher-models and explanations of how to integrate science and social studies standards, students will chose the science and social studies curricula units or standards and align them into their unit.
- Given teacher-models and explanations of how to integrate reading and writing standards, students will chose their Lucy Calkins reading and writing units to match their science and social studies curricula.
- Given models and explanations of examples/scenarios, students will be able to integrate at least 3 math standards into their existing units of study.
- Given all subjects aligned with standards and a list of performance tasks/projects, students will choose/create a project-based or performance based assessment for each subject.
As a result of participating in this workshop, participants will gain an understanding of the benefits to integrated curriculum and how to take their current curriculum and chief instructional resources, resulting in the ability to apply the knowledge attained to integrate their own curriculum.
Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:
- understand the importance, value and benefit of integrated curricula.
- understand the process of choosing social studies, science, math, reading and writing topics and standards to integrate.
- practical application and strategies to create integrated units of study.
- choose appropriate project and performance-based assessments.
- Understanding of concepts, outcomes and standards related to:
- their chief instructional resources
- their reading, writing, math, science and social studies programs
- Component skills: computer literacy, ability to work within wiki, ability to use the scope and sequence of their teaching resources, use of other educational technologies (to be determined).
- Willingness to learn
- Relating and synthesizing new information, pedagogies and methods to their prior experiences.
- Open mind, positive attitude, instrinsically motivated, open to constructivist methods, and student-driven classroom mindset.
INSTRUCTIONAL CURRICULUM MAP
Click here to view my instructional curriculum map: [[CURRICULUM MAP]]. Note: You'll be taken to a new page--once the page loads, be sure to click on the expand arrows to view the map.
Unit 1: Why Integrate Curriculum?
Upon completion of this unit, participants will:
1. understand what integrated curriculum is; and
2. understand the value and importance of an integrated curriculum.
- Research review and post
- Video and class discussion
- Reflection Activity
Unit 2: Choosing Curriculum to Integrate
1. understand how to integrate their own curriculum; and
2. choose their curriculum to integrate.
- Forum to submit choices
Unit 3: Aligning all Curriculum
1. complete a curriculum map; and
2. create goals, outcomes and objectives for the unit.
- Create a curriculum map
- create goals, outcomes and objectives for the unit
- Provide feedback to workshop facilitator
Unit 4: Create Assessments
1. Understand what project-based learning and performance tasks are and their purposes; and
2. create their performance tasks or projects for the unit, adding them to their curriculum map.
- add task or project to curriculum map
References and Resources
Calkins, L. (2013). Units Of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing. Grade 3. Portsmouth, NH :FirstHand. Print.
Costley, Kevin. (2015). Research Supporting Integrated Curriculum: Evidence for using this Method of Instruction in Public School Classrooms. Arkansas Tech University.
Designing Integrated Curriculum. (2010). Buck Institute for Education. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VzhStQwQSI
Fata-Hartley, Dr. Cori. (2013). What Is Backward Design. MSU Graduate School. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DTxnTNXPK3g
Gina Contardi, Michelle Fall, et. al. (2000). Integrated Curriculum.
Wolpert-Gawron, Heather. (2015). What the Heck Is Project Based Learning? Edutopia.
Integrated Curriculum in the Primary Program. (2017).
Mohr, Kimberly and Welker, Robert W., "The Role of Integrated Curriculum in the 21st Century School" (2017). Dissertations. 688. https://irl.umsl.edu/dissertation/688
Poetzscher, Terra. (2018). Integrated Curriculum. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Vz9PnB8A3Y
Project Based Learning: Explained. (2010). Buck Institute for Education. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMCZvGesRz8