Toward an Integrated Curriculum

Integrated curriculum is the hallmark of School-to-Work curriculum. Numerous variations on the integration theme range from simple to more complex configurations. In their book Integrating Curricula with Multiple Intelligences: Teams, Themes, and Threads, Robin Fogarty and Judy Stoehr define some different types of integration examples and various configurations for designing integrated curriculum. The descriptions and related examples shown here portray these different approaches.

Though integration as a curriculum design technique builds and reinforces both general education and vocational education, educators must remain cognizant of the most critical element to any curriculum design: the learner. Learners' needs, and the relevancy of the curriculum designed to meet those needs, represent the "bottom line" to the curriculum integration process.

What does this learner relevancy mean to the curriculum designer? Curriculum is relevant to the learner and engages the learner by:

By reinforcing general and vocational education concepts and skills, and by connecting learning to real life/work applications, curriculum integration increases the relevancy of learning experiences. Educators designing curriculum must ask the basic question of the teaching- learning paradigm: what does the student need to know and be able to do? Integrated School-to-Work curriculum influences what skills and information students learn, how well they learn, and how transferable these skills and knowledge are to real-world applications.

Ten Views for Integrating Curriculum

Fragmented

Description: The traditional model of separate and distinct discipline, which fragments the subject area.

Example: Teacher applies this view in Math, Science, Social Studies, Language arts OR Sciences, Humanities, Fine and Practical Arts.
Connected

Description: Within each subject area, course content is connected topic to topic, concept to concept, one year's work to the next, and relates ideas explicity.

Example: Teacher relates the concept of fractions to decimals, which in turn relates to money, grades, etc.
Nested

Description: Within each subject, the teacher targets multiple skills: a social skill, a thinking skill, and a content-specific skill.

Example: Teacher designs the unit on photosynthesis to target consensus seeking, sequencing, and plant life cycle.
Sequenced

Description: Topics or units of study are rearranged and sequenced to coincide with one another. Similar ideas are taught in concert while remaining separate subjects.

Example: English teacher presents a historical novel depicting a particular period while the History teacher teaches that same period.
Shared

Description: Shared planning and teaching take place in two disciplines in which overlapping concepts or ideas emerge as organizing elements.

Example: Science and Math teachers use data collection, charting, and graphing as shared concepts that can be team-taught.
Webbed

Description: A fertile theme is webbed to curriculum contents and disciplines; subjects use the theme to sift out appropriate concepts, topics, and ideas.

Example: Teacher presents a simple topical theme, such as the circus, and webs it to other subject areas.
Threaded

Description: The metacurricular approach threads thinking skills, social skills, multiple intelligences, technology, and study skills through the various disciplines.

Example: Teaching staff targets prediction in Reading, Math, and Science while Social Studies teacher targets forecasting current events.
Integrated

Description: This interdisciplinart approach matches subjects for overlaps in topics and concepts with some team teaching in an authentic integrated model.

Example: In Math, Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts, etc. teachers look for patterning models and approach content through these patterns.
Immersed

Description: The disciplines become part of the learner's lens of expertise: the learner filters all content through this lens and becomes immersed in his or her own experience.

Example: Student or doctoral candidate has an area of expert interest and sees all learning through that lens.
Networked

Description: Learner filters all learning through the expert's eye and makes internal connections that lead to external networks of experts in related fields.

Example: Architect, while adapting the CAD/CAM technology for design, networks with programmers and expands her knowledge base.

From Fogarty, R., and Stoehr, J. (1991). Integrating Curricula with Multiple Intelligences: Teams, Themes, and Threads. Palatine, IL: Skylight Publishing, Inc.

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