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Integrated Curriculum: Definition, Benefits & Examples

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  • 0:01 The Integrated Curriculum
  • 0:56 Benefits
  • 2:36 Examples
  • 4:06 Lesson Planning
  • 5:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shaundra Boyd
Have you ever wondered what and how an integrated curriculum works? Learn about this hot topic that is shaping how teachers teach and students learn in the classroom.

The Integrated Curriculum

I remember learning in the classroom and being taught subjects in isolation. For example, I was only taught reading comprehension in reading class or math in only mathematics class but never in other subjects. I often wondered why some math concepts weren't taught in science since they somehow seemed to have a relationship. Has that ever happened to you?

Today, there is a focus on an integrated curriculum. An integrated curriculum is described as one that connects different areas of study by cutting across subject-matter lines and emphasizing unifying concepts. Integration focuses on making connections for students, allowing them to engage in relevant, meaningful activities that can be connected to real life. Can you imagine how an integrated curriculum can benefit your students? Understanding the benefits and how to effectively integrate curriculum can help teachers and students become more successful in the classroom.

Benefits

Do you wonder why it is important to integrate curriculum? Think about how much you could learn in a classroom where you learn math, science and reading all in one lesson or teaching a theme-based unit that focuses on cultural diversity and incorporates core content area topics. When I taught through an integrated curriculum, my students showed higher signs of retention at an increased rate than when an integrated curriculum was not implemented. The reason for this is because they were able to more closely relate to content and make real-world connections in integrated curriculum approaches.

Students not only connect and create more real world connections in integrated classrooms, but they are also more actively engaged. Creating an integrated curriculum means that teachers are charged with having to create challenging, fun, meaningful tasks that help students connect to information. Creating a solar system unit that also requires oral language development and practice, reading comprehension skills and mathematics, can engage students far more than just a lesson on the solar system alone. Integration helps to achieve retention and engagement in classrooms, which yields higher mastery of content standards.

One final key benefit of an integrated curriculum is the ability for students to see skills multiple times. Instead of teaching comprehension strategies in just reading, teaching those strategies across multiple disciplines can give students an opportunity to see and implement it more often. The repetition of the skills being taught creates a higher level of understanding and retention of information for students in the classroom.

Examples

Think about the idea of integration as either a multidisciplinary approach or an interdisciplinary approach. A multidisciplinary approach focuses primarily on the disciplines. Teachers who use this approach organize standards from the disciplines around a theme. In an interdisciplinary approach, teachers organize the curriculum around common learnings across disciplines. They chunk together the common learnings embedded in the disciplines to emphasize interdisciplinary skills and concepts.

To create multidisciplinary integrated curriculum, develop a central theme focused on social studies and teach history, geography, economics and government in that thematic based unit. You may also achieve this by creating a mathematics thematic unit that teachers the relationship between fractions, percents, decimals and ratios. This will help students make connections to many disciplines.

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