What is Integrated Curriculum?
Academic study for middle and high school students separates broad subjects into specialized topics. Where students were once studying math, they begin to study Algebra, Geometry, and Statistics. History becomes U.S. History or World History. Science becomes Biology. Biology is further differentiated into Botany or Anatomy.
With this specialization, comes separate classrooms and shorter learning periods. Now you have a Science teacher who teaches you Physics for an hour.
At first glance, this seems to be a logical way for students to be able to choose their future specialties and careers. After all, you can’t very well teach Economics in the same classroom as Graphic Design…or can you?
How Integration is Different
This is where Integrated Curriculum comes in. When you begin to integrate curricula, you form a bridge from science to math. Students learn about gravity alongside parabolas through projectile motion lessons. They learn about demographics and marketing during an art class designing a flyer. Connections like these make the learning experience more engaging. The knowledge students gain is longer lasting. The more connections you have, the richer the learning experience.
Specialization is certainly necessary if you are trying to become an expert on a single focused topic. However, in most careers, you are not a specialist. It is misleading to teach art isolated from other topics. After all, artists spend only a portion of their day doing art. Furthermore, many of those who have successful careers are not doing art for themselves. The rest of their day is spent in meetings, collaborating with team members, and meeting with clients. Their work might be fixing designs from editors or creating concepts that will be thrown away. And like all of us, after work consists of paying bills, cleaning their home, and eating dinner. To be happy, they also need to connect with their community, care for themselves and make sure to find balance in their lives.
Most of these skills are not taught in the art classroom. Some of these skills aren’t taught at all.
Integrated Curricula by The Project Shop
Integrated Curricula that you will find through this site encompasses as many of the broad learning topics as possible. Each project is part of a bigger theme. Each theme includes activities from each of 8 subjects.
- Practical Work
- Working with the hands and accomplishing a physical product
- The study of human progress over time
- The study of systems of the world, organic or social
- The study of numbers and patterns
- An outlet of the emotions, whether creative or physical
- Literature and Writing
- Understanding and creating the written word
- Caring or oneself, the environment and others
- World Language
- Understanding other cultures and globally communicating
A unit study, then, is a unified theme and when students are done exploring the theme the unit comes to a close with a unifying question. For example this unit, Tinkering with Time. It’s unifying theme is Time, Gears and Ancient Man. When students are done, they ponder the question: “Does time exist or is it a human construct?”. Integrating their knowledge further, they answer this question in presentation form.
The Mobile Montessorian Philosophy
Finally, all materials in The Project Shop are designed with four principles in mind:
- Independence—greater self-efficacy through independently-driven tasks
- Meaningful Work—greater engagement through adult-like work
- Hands-on Experiences—greater understanding through integration of the hand and mind
- Wellbeing—reflection and care opportunities for the self, others, and the environment