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Curriculum Integration

An integrated curriculum is all about making connections, whether to real life or across

disciplines, about skills or about knowledge (Drake & Burns, 2004). An integrated

curriculum fuses subject areas, experiences and real-life knowledge together to make a more

fulfilling and tangible learning environment for students. The benefits of curriculum

integration include: it increases student retention, caters to diverse learners, improves student

interest and it encourages cooperative learning. Additionally, an integrated curriculum allows

students to link their experiences in the classroom to the real world and make sense of

experiences from their lives.

Within the last five years at the Valencia Secondary School I have observed that the

students who have gained entrance to the school via the Secondary Entrance Assessment

(SEA) have received low marks in the Language component of the examination. I have been

teaching form 1E since September 2017 and I have observed through their written responses

on worksheets evidence that show students’ struggling to derive meaning from the text they

have read. Through discussions with students in classroom it revealed that they possess

varying learning styles, they love completing assignments that encourage them to create and

design items. They also enjoy listening to stories, singing and pretending to be one another.

Allowing students to participate in activities which they enjoy should build their confidence

and improve students’ academic achievement as measured by test scores. The results of their

term 1 examination was disappointing and I decided to review my teaching and learning

strategies in order to reach the students.

As a student I remember sitting in a classroom being taught subjects in isolation, Art in

Art class or Mathematics in only Mathematics class but never in other subjects. I often

wondered why some Mathematics concepts were not taught in Science since they somehow
seemed to have a relationship. Life has never been segmented into disciplines, to live

successfully, an individual needs skills that cut across the disciplines. How can I make the

form 1 Social-Studies curriculum relevant? How can I move toward making “success for all”

a reality? The answers to these questions is situated in curriculum integration. I am not an

expert in this field so I needed to collaborate with teachers who had successfully completed

the DipEd programme in varying disciplines to assist me with curriculum integration.

It is believed that all teachers are ‘teachers of English,’ however, despite this school of

thought I held a discussion with the Head of Department (HOD) of Modern Languages, Mrs.

Kizzy King-Chapman. I had an idea to teach the topic ‘Self-Esteem’ in my form 1 class but I

required her assistance. At first we discussed the idea of using the Read Aloud technique

because I wanted to utilize a story that my students were familiar with to teach the concept of

self-esteem. The phrase ‘Mirror, Mirror’ kept popping into to my head because most

teenagers are constantly examining themselves in a mirror and the concept of self-esteem

deals with examining oneself.

However, we decided because an integrated curriculum offers more repetition of

information than to teach subjects in isolation that we should use a poem instead of a story.

The English curriculum in form 1 introduced students to poetry in the term in which this

lesson was going to be taught and it would be refreshing for students to be introduced to

poetry in their Social-Studies class as well. I decided to create a poem titled ‘Mirror, Mirror

on the Wall, “What do you see?” the poem briefly discusses how individuals feels when they

look into a mirror, the poem was used as the set induction and instead of reading the poem

myself a male student read it.

This topic can be easily integrated with other disciplines apart from English. I needed to

think of subjects that will peak my students’ interest in order to ensure that not only will they
be retaining the information received throughout the lesson but also enjoying themselves

while they learn. On a Wednesday’s the students are usually eager to exit my class to venture

upstairs to the Drama room and I heeded this observation and consulted members of the

Visual and Performing Arts Department. VAPA as this department is popularly known as is

comprised of four disciplines: Visual Arts (Art and Craft), Music, Dance and Drama. VAPA

education provides students with an opportunity to explore and express feelings and to

stimulate creativity and imagination. One of the objectives for this lesson was for students to

share or express feelings about how they feel about themselves and what other people think

about them, this objective clearly aligns to the goal of VAPA education.

I collaborated with the Drama teacher Mrs. MaEachnie-Mayhew to enhance the set

induction with the use of a role-play. Instead of just allowing the student to read the poem,

four other students role-played the scenes, while wearing white face masks similar to those

used by actors in theatrical performances. The Visual Arts teacher Mr. Cummings designed

the large mirror used in the set induction and suggested that the students design brightly

coloured masks outlining what people see/know/believe about them and what they know

about themselves, what is going on the inside, what people do not necessarily know or see as

the group activity. The Music teacher suggested the use of a call and response “Look in the

mirror tell me what you see?” as the lesson’s closure. As I reflect upon this lesson I must

admit that integrating curriculum has been one of the most successful strategies that I have

used during my DipEd teaching practice, by integrating the lesson each and every student in

my class was reached in a way that attracted them by utilizing varying learning styles, the

students became the key players of the lesson thereby making their experience real and

memorable. Furthermore, the entire lesson was student centred, they were totally engaged in

the forty minutes and cooperative learning took place. I will definitely utilize this approach in

the future to reach students.