Our topic for this class has centered around integrating curriculum in the classroom. This has been a theme during the course of our program, especially in our methods classes. In order to have enough time during the day or week for all of the subjects we need to cover, it makes sense. It also makes sense to teach students in a way that is more authentic, since divided subject areas are unique to the school setting. However, this can be a challenge when the Common Core standards center around literacy and math for elementary students (and science for older students). I know many teachers who focus heavily on the tested subjects, especially when school funding relies on student performance. How can I justify spending extra time on social studies and science when these don’t “matter” with regards to school funding? How can I justify not spending time on these subjects? This is why I like the idea of an integrated curriculum, where tested and non-tested subjects are mixed in a way that allows for teaching the standards but also including the content and skills students should be learning to become good citizens. Drake and Burns (2004) describe an example that I think perfectly encapsulates the integrated curriculum: in it, a Virginia teacher asked her students to make choices about what they wanted to learn, but in order to justify these choices, they had to defend them with the state standards. In this way, not only do the students get to decide what they are learning (creating more interest and engagement in the subject), but they learn the standards and also practice forming an argument and providing evidence to justify it. This is a standard in and of itself, for math and science.
Drake, S., and Burns, R. (2004). Meeting standards through integrated curriculum. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.