We began this work because of a perceived need in the Archdiocesan School System. The Supporting Fund wished to increase the teaching of the visual arts in the school system. Many schools do not hire professional art educators to implement the art curriculum written by Sister Carla Huebner of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Schools. The grant enabled us to work with teachers to produce sample units. These units were built on existing objectives in the following curricular areas: Art, technology, science, social studies, language arts, and math. We did not wish to add another subject to the curriculum or another instruction period to the day. Our aim was to take what is ordinarily taught and show how objectives might be met at a given grade level through the teaching of an integrated unit.
As information expands, students may learn more efficiently by making connections among various content areas. Each content does not have to be taught in isolation. Student learning is multiplied through connections.
We propose that more visual arts and technology will be included in classrooms where teachers are using integrated units that are built around themes which catch the interest of students.
Would you like to try the Integration Process? The following are the steps that we took the writers through to produce the integrated units. The resource (button) section contains books and materials which you may want to use to prepare for your planning sessions. We found especially helpful the video materials from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Read background materials. There are many theories of integration on which you may want to pattern teaching units. We chose the webbed model which uses a theme as central to the planning. Instructional objectives are then developed for several content areas around the central theme. Lesson plans and assessments are then written. You may choose to integrate two subject, all subjects, or any combination of subjects.
Get a team together. We had some teams from an individual school and some teams drew from two schools. Brainstorming and planning time together is essential. Assemble teachers in your school who wish to plan in a group. Integration will not work well without common planning time and enthusiastic participants.
Map your curriculum. Teachers who teach in a self-contained room could brainstorm with other specialists who teach the same group of children. Teachers who teach in a team could brainstorm with the team and record the subjects of units covered for a specified time period(i.e. quarter, semester, year). In both situations, teachers should develop a matrix of unit subjects taught in a specified time period(i.e. quarter, semester, year). Look for connections and overlapping content. Once the curriculum map has been made, brainstorm ways in which overlapping content may be integrated.
Write essential questions. After connections have been made between units presently taught in the curriculum, make a choice of one overlapping or related subject which the team would like to use as the basis for an integrated unit. Ask yourself what you and your students would like to know about the chosen theme. Brainstorm until the team can agree on 3 or 4 questions. Record those questions. Most experts will caution educators to START SMALL. Integrated units are very rewarding to teachers because of the growth in student learning, but are challenging because of the planning time each unit requires. Set attainable goals so that you will want to plan cooperatively again. Some schools allow for common teacher planning time and others do not.
Choose your objectives and decide how outcomes will be assessed. Set objectives which are in line with grade level expectation in the areas of the curriculum chosen for integration. Refer to local, state or national standards to check the objectives to which you would like to teach.
Plan activities for your integrated teaching unit. Plan activities which both answer your essential questions and meet your content area objectives.
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