A Necessary Challenge
It can be very hard to build curriculum across content areas, especially when you begin to move into departmentalized grade levels and teachers teaching specialized courses. However, it is essential for students to have experiences working through content integration experiences in order to understand how the real-world functions. For example, adults don’t go through their day compartmentalizing math, writing and science. But rather use their knowledge in an integrated way to better problem solve or understand their world and their contributions to it.
At my school site we have some good things in place for designing integrated curriculum, but more can be done. Our district produces skeleton structures for integrated units which is a good helpful start. As an elementary we have both departmentalized and non-departmentalized classrooms. Once each unit teachers are given time to come together as a grade level team to backward map their unit around the lines of inquiry and unit texts. This is usually done with a literacy and writing unit sometimes tied with science or social studies and then a totally separate math unit. It would be great to integrate the math more closely with the opposite unit. Time is already provided for curriculum development, math just needs to be more authentically integrated. It would be great to pull in a coach to this meeting to help teachers grapple with this process.
I appreciate in the video below how the teachers allow time for content area specialists are given time to explain and break down their area’s standards for each other so that way integration opportunities can develop and be more linked to approprate standards.