School of Integration Curriculum and
School Prospectus, Curriculum, and Planning documents
- Comparison of integrated and subject context curriculums
- Mission statement
- Summary of goals
- Contextual area and ideas for an integrated curriculum
- Planning table with sample questions for contextual areas
- Focus question for Big Ideas to use as themes of study
- Planning matrix for the theme - water and questions relating to context areas and school goals
- Blank planning matrix for a theme and questions related to contextual areas and school goals
Introduction: This article explores a truly integrated studies school experience and curriculum. The information is presented as a: school prospectus, which includes curriculum and planning documents for our integrated studies school based philosophy.
An overview of the topics and categories is included in a box to the right.
We begin with a short comparison of an integrated curriculum and subject oriented curriculum.
School of Integrated studies
- Based on student interests guided by the mission of the school with goals and content categorized in ways other than subjects
- Conceptual based on concepts, relationships, and generalizations constructed by students creative and imaginative questioning through an investigative process to develop critical thinking practices and processes for all literacies of a quality and productive education.
Subject oriented Curriculum contexts
- Factual knowledge based
- Retelling of information in a rational logical procedure related to the develop of different subjects (mathematics, science, literature, history, geography, art, music, ...)
- Content focused to maximize quantity of learning as a product of production evaluated by grading.
- There is a connectedness of all things.
- Students achieve more with a learner centered environment.
- Schools are mission driven.
- Learning is contextual.
- Powerful learning focuses on relevant questions and contextual relationships between facts, concepts, relationships, and generalizations associated with those questions.
- Learning is framed by observations, facts, concepts, relationships, and universal principles that are bridges to big ideas and generalizations.
- Shared purposes energize a learning community.
- Common purposes are arrived at through communication of: clarifying assumptions, visioning a common mission, goal setting, deriving outcomes, and principled procedures which are developed and shared by a community of educators and learners.
Our school provides a vigorous dynamic educational system characterized by:
- caring, dedicate and highly competent staff,
- innovative instruction,
- emerging technology,
- comprehensive programs,
- partnerships with an involved and supportive community.
That will educate students who:
- are literate,
- think critically,
- communicate effectively,
- value and demonstrate high ethical conduct,
- possess positive self-efficacy.
- contribute to their community, and
- excel among people throughout the world
Our School of Integration will be
- a place where students, faculty, and staff believe what they think and do matters.
- a place where people observe, examine, ponder, discuss, and analyze,
- where people speak and listen with an open-mind and respect for others,
- where people develop the desire to ask good questions,
- a place where each and all work for the common good, and
- think beyond oneself and their time.
Students will be more inclined to:
- take a stand on emerging and enduring issues,
- be reflective and proactive in thought,
- demonstrate a sense of connection to a larger group,
- have a feel for the post-graduation contributions to be made,
- have a shared ethical ethic,
- readily deploy their intellectual arsenal, and
- reveal a sense of efficacy and belief that a difference will be made.
Outcomes are expressed as observations and artifacts that can be seen by participants and visitors to our school. They will witness:
- An integrated curriculum as "Life in all of its manifestations." A community with a diversity of objects, people, other living and nonliving things and ideas which are used as the primary sources and resources for students to wonder, question, experience, and participate in learning to achieve our seven goals.
- A learning community that is a supportive, sensitive, responsive, and accepting learning environments that strives to enhance self-worth, creative intellectual endeavors, responsible behavior, and self-efficacy. A community where ownership, responsibility, and accountability are assumed to be synonymous with membership in the community.
- A learning community that reflects the interests and capabilities of all students where each has much power over her learning environment as she is capable of handling.
- A learning community with cooperation and synergy where everyone is both a learner and a resource for everyone else. With goals set and outcomes achieved that challenge the intuition, creativity, imagination, knowledge, and skills of the members, including the instructors.
- A learning community which extends beyond the walls of the classroom.
- A community with participants who are involved intellectually and emotionally in learning experiences with little or no fear and anxiety.
- A community where decisions are consistent, ethical, and responsive to the needs of all members and the community itself.
- Assessment as learning experiences which is regular, unbiased, consistent, appropriate, and communicated through a variety of feedback loops.
- Achievement of the school's seven goals through its four contextual areas.
- Diverse groups of heterogeneous individual students, who are randomly assigned to a classroom resulting in a genuine dependable learning community.
- Develop literacy to find and use information effectively.
- Exhibit creativity.
- Think critically to understand the world and establishing meaning in their lives by defining ethical goals and demonstrating skill in using them in their decision making and actions.
- Communicate effectively.
- Display interpersonal skills, self-understanding, and ethical conduct.
- Demonstrate global responsibility and cross-cultural understanding.
- Develop and maintain personal wellness practices.
|1. Literacy||Develop literacy to find and use information effectively.|
|2. Creativity||Exhibit creativity.|
|3. Think critically||Think critically to understand the world and establishing meaning in their lives by defining ethical goals and demonstrating skill in using them in their decision making and actions.|
|4. Communicate effectively||Communicate effectively.|
|5. Interpersonal skills||Display interpersonal skills, self-understanding, and ethical conduct.|
|6. Global responsibility||Demonstrate global responsibility and cross-cultural understanding.|
|7. Personal wellness||Develop and maintain personal wellness practices.|
An integrated curriculum needs a context for ideas or content information to teach. In a traditional curriculum these ideas come from the subject areas. Ours come from the follow four context categories:
Four contextual areas with concepts and relationships:
1. Global: Our experiences and relationships with the world: physical reality, the biosphere, and the global ecological systems. This context emphasizes a global perspective with: interdependence, sustainability and recognition of limits, diversity, partnership, competition, cooperation, change, cycles, and energy flow. Emphasis is on the organic nature of planet Earth and all its physical, cultural, and knowledge systems.
- Interdependence: a relationship in which the success of the whole depends upon the success of each individual member, just as the success of each member depends upon the success of the whole.
- Sustainability and recognitions of limits: every organism is part of a system and requires a resource base to provide the raw materials upon which the system and it's members depend for survival. This resource base is limited with respects to Earth. The long-term sustainability (survival) of any system depends on its ability to live within the limits of its system.
- Diversity: in general greater diversity results in greater stability. An oak forest with its rich diversity of life is far more stable than a mono-culture like a cornfield. The diversity of ethnic cultural backgrounds is one of the strengths of our nation. In all human organizations, diversity is necessary to maintain stability. Especially important in an age of narrow specialization.
- Partnership: too much competition leads to burnout, self-destruction, monopolies, controlling cultures of winners and losers. Too much cooperation leads to passivity, inertia, apathy, and cultures of over reliance on governmental agencies. There is a powerful bias in our country toward unrestrained competition in human economies (social Darwinism). There is no such thing as unrestrained competition in nature, and no one believes in unrestrained economic, banking, and political competition. In natural systems, competition within species is always constrained by cooperative strategies such as territoriality and dominance hierarchy. Competition between species is controlled by factors such as adaptive modifications, which often result in two similar species utilizing entirely different food sources. In cultural systems, the most vocal defenders of unrestrained economic competition are often the first to exploit political means to protect them self from the very competition that they defend. It is through ethical and productive partnerships that a sort of balance can be sustained to reduce oppression and increase the well-being of many for their pursuit of happiness.
- Change: occurs as matter, organisms, systems, and groups evolve through an interplay of creation, entropy, homeostasis, and mutual adaptation.
- Cycles: fluctuate as feedback loops provide various levels of tolerance in the dynamic interplay between stability and instability. Seasons, life cycles, economic cycles, atoms, molecules, matter, planetary ecological systems, living organisms, flow of money... Just as urinalysis provides information/feedback about the health of the human body, the quality of our planetary water supply provides information/feedback about the health of our ecological system. Other cycles: the relationship between public purposes and private interests. Supply and demand, Human rest cycles to growth cycles. ...
- Energy Flow When physical objects and systems with different energy states interact there is a transfer of energy flowing from a source to a receiver. Living systems are dependent upon an external energy source for survival. Cultural systems depend on resources and information as external forms of energy. Money, knowledge, and data are forms of energy transferred into information by the human mind. Just as the health of natural systems depends on a free flow of solar energy throughout the system, the health of a cultural system requires a free flow of information. System imbalance occurs whenever there is a glut of energy/information in one part of a system at the expense of the rest of the system. When the imbalance becomes too great a systemic catastrophe results.
2. Relationships: People have relationships with others and themselves. Relationships are subjective and participatory with respect to the nature of human knowledge and experience. We must constantly be aware of our responsibilities to make principled and ethical decisions as individuals which affect ourselves and our community as well as decision made collectively within different communities.
3. Time: Our place in time relative to the past, present, and future. How our relationship to time has changed, is changing, and will change. Seeing time as a continuous and constant process that progressively changes as it incorporates a historical perspective with a present perspective, and expands into a future perspective; which impacts our understanding, critical thinking, and decision making processes.
4. Symbolic: Our relationship to the world of information and knowledge. We recognize ideas, symbols, relationships, and metaphors as human creations and as such the significance that different perspectives can have in shaping our thoughts and actions. Constantly reminding ourselves that the same information can mean different things to different people. In the symbolic context we emphasize: observations, facts, concepts, relationships, generalizations, and connectedness as resources in a systematic approach to selecting, organizing, and processing information with critical thinking and higher-order skills to answer questions and solve problems with a focus on the quality of information rather than the quantity.
The four contextual areas: 1. global, 2. relationships, 3. time, and 4. symbolic become the contexts in which learning is organized, planned, implemented, and assessed relative to our educational goals and outcomes.
Summary of contextual areas in a table format
In curriculums organized around subjects (mathematics, science, literature, art, music ...) it is the subjects that are used as contextual areas for study. In our integrated curriculum these four contextual areas will be used to organize learning and teaching. To illustrate this difference the following table has sample questions for each of the four contextual areas that may be asked when seeking and using information to achieve the seven goals of the school.
Later, examples will be shown how the four context areas are merged with the seven goals to plan units or sequences of study. First, a table is presented with examples of questions whose answers will provide information and understanding related to the contextual areas.
Planning table with sample questions related to the four Contextual Areas of our Integrated Curriculum
|Contextual Areas sub categories||
|Possible sample focus questions for the four contextual areas:||
To merge the context areas with our goals a focus question for a big idea is helpful to plan units of study for students. Possible focus questions for big ideas to explore:
- What are the benefits of water on earth?
- What are the values of numbers and number systems?
- How does the human body work?
- What is an average 12 year old?
- What value does science have in today’s world?
- How will genetic engineering affect human life in the future?
- How has the natural landscape shaped American history?
- What makes a culture civilized?
- What makes a culture modern?
- What do the various disciplines tell us about war?
- What is energy?
- What is matter?
- What is motion?
- What is in the sky?
- What is earth?
- What is our relationship to the Earth?
- How do cities deal with waste?
Finally bringing it all together in a big idea planning matrix for the theme water and questions related to contextual areas and school goals
To illustrate this the following table has sample questions for each of the four contextual areas that may be asked when seeking information and understanding related to achieving the goals of the school. While topics are best chosen by students and questions generated by them it would be the responsibility of the teaching staff to chart and modify the information as students present their questions for their topic.
The following table present ideas related to the topic of water and possible questions and information as it relates to the context areas and school goals.
To continue with our planning, activities would need to be created and assessment guides for scoring student progress in each of the different areas. It is highly probable after students are involved in the selection of the topic and creation of questions, which are inserted in an appropriate cell in the planning matrix above along with some teacher suggestions (if needed), they would be ready and eager to set off to find and explore resources to find information to answer their questions and probably suggest activities to do and ways to share their findings and implement actions related to their findings.
Students can also be involved in making suggestions on how their work and artifacts can be assessed. Generic scoring guides can be made for each of the areas to guide students in this process.
| Theme and Focus questions
|Develop literacy to find and use information effectively.|
|Think critically to understand the world and establishing meaning in their lives by defining ethical goals and demonstrating skill in using them in their decision making and actions.|
|Display interpersonal skills, self-understanding, and ethical conduct.|
|Demonstrate global responsibility and cross-cultural understanding.|
|Develop and maintain personal wellness practices.|