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4.5.5 Integrated Curriculum & Academic Teaching

An integrated curriculum is a nontraditional approach to teaching. An integrated curriculum is an interdisciplinary teaching method wherein the academic curriculum is centered on a topic or theme rather than divided into separate subjects.

In this way, traditional subject areas, such as math, English, social studies and science, all are taught together and focused around a specific issue or problem instead of in isolation. This allows students to make connections between different areas as they explore a topic in detail and from a variety of approaches.

Goals: Integrated teaching is supposed to allow students to learn how to approach a problem as they might have to in the real world and getting them to consider a single issue from different angles. In this sense, integrated teaching is supposed to foster the skills necessary to turn students into productive and critical thinkers as well as lifelong learners.

Method: An Integrated curriculum emphasizes projects rather than individual, self-sufficient lessons. Students are required to research their topic, therefore forcing them to engage with sources beyond their textbooks.

Students also are encouraged to explore the relationship between concepts from different subject areas and are required to develop their own objectives, standards and time lines. Furthermore, students are asked to consider how the topic extends beyond the classroom into the larger outside world.

Skills: The point of developing and implementing an integrative curriculum is to foster higher-ordered thinking skills.

Students are not expected to merely memorize and regurgitate material, but are instead asked to put what they learn to use and to reflect upon the ways in which they are asked to approach a theme, topic or problem.The focus is for students to develop critical-thinking and problem- solving skills that can be applied both later in their education and their post-academic lives.

Teacher evaluation: One of the primary values of integrative teaching is that it allows teachers to evaluate their students by means other than standardized testing. The teacher still can set goals and apply strict standards, but these standards are not measured by merely testing how much rote information the student has been able to acquire, but rather by evaluating the depth and scope of insight, thoughtfulness and effectiveness with which a student tackles a problem.

School-to-Work: One of the major strengths of the integrative curriculum approach is that it prepares students to think about and struggle with a long-term project the way people in the workplace often have to think about their own projects.

This emphasis helps learners to develop real-world skills for navigating a problem by utilizing a variety of different skills the same way professionals often have to deal with projects.

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