According to Drake and Burns (2004), teachers most often design integrated curriculum from three different starting points: multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary. Multidisciplinary education begins with connecting curricular standards from many different disciplines to a unifying or underlying theme. Interdisciplinary education “chunks tougher the common learning embedded in the disciplines to emphasize interdisciplinary skills and concepts” like communication or literacy (Drake & Burns, 2004, p.5). Transdisciplinary education focuses on student questions and integrated life-skills as a way to frame and interpret the curriculum. Students and teachers use real-life problems, local contexts, and inquiry to develop the course curriculum (Drake & Burns, 2004, p.5). All three of these approaches offer time, space, and instructional strategies to ensure that ELLs are fully supported in their language development. Integrated curriculum allows teachers to focus on concepts that students can connect to their prior learning, past experience, their L1, and critical thinking skills. When given appropriate language scaffolds, ELLs will be able to connect English vocabulary to authentic experiences and curricular content. It strengthens their ability for communication because there are more points of access to the conversation. It also is accessible to the wider community because it may not be as content-heavy as traditional teaching, making it easier for parents and others to be involved in the students’ continued learning. The Aboriginal Perspectives Toolkit was designed for accessibility to the curriculum. As an integrated framework, it addresses the issues ignored by mainstream Canada for centuries falls in all areas of education. The Toolkit highlights areas of history, civics, science, environmental studies, family studies, and language where Aboriginal perspectives directly connect to themes and skills outlined in curricula.
I taught an interdisciplinary Grade 7 History/Geography course during my practicum placement. To begin the unit on New France, I use art, creation stories, and traditional textbook information to create a multidisciplinary lesson. The lesson question was “How do creation stories shape our understanding of the land/resources we use?” and the learning goals were to determine important symbols to the First Nations and European peoples and to explain the different perspectives of humanity’s relationship with nature. Because we used the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program curriculum, I was able to meet the expectations through my lesson question and objectives.
During the Minds On, students made observations of two visual representations of creation stories, based on The Garden of Earthly Delight by Hieronymous Bosch and Anishinaabe-Ojibwe art of Kitche Manitou. Our prompts were: What people, animals, and plants do you see? What do you notice about the colors and composition? How are they similar and different? After the students generated ideas, we formed a circle and read the creation stories. There were two ELL students in the class, and to accommodate them I provided students with the option to pass. One ELL student did and one did not. Reflecting now, I could have chosen a better way to scaffold this part of the lesson for them, but based on their reading and oral proficiency levels the text was within their ZPD had I adjusted some of the vocabulary.
I then passed around two bottles – one filled with dirt and a metal objects and another halfway filled with dirt and only a few metal objects. I asked what they heard and why they heard the metal in one more loudly than the other. I used this as an analogy for voice and representation: the few who shout loudly will be heard over the many who speak softly. We then used the textbook to take notes on the First Nations and European people, relationship with nature, and valued material objects.
As a consolidation I asked them the question: “What does it mean to walk in another person’s shoes?” Many conflicts arose from how FNMI and European peoples' differing notions of stewardship and dominion, which determined their perspectives on nature. In order to build empathy and understanding, the students worked collaboratively in small groups to determine the most important symbols to each group of people and draw them on large cutouts of shoes. I asked them to pay special attention to how the symbols reflect the values they place on nature. The groups then shared their symbol choices to the class.
I am an enthusiastic and conscientious educator. I use my blog to connect my personal experiences and adventures to my pedagogy.