Curricular Connections

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Elements of Integration in the Classroom


Curricular integration can be charted along a continuum, as illustrated in the Types of Curricular Connections. Association of subject-based knowledge and skills happens within any one subject area, as well as between subject areas in the study of a theme, project, or question. Transdisciplinary integration takes this association beyond the subject areas to the highest level on the continuum.

All forms of integration must be realistic, functional, and build on the big ideas, concepts, and learning outcomes of the subject areas. The integrated subject-based knowledge and skills are then integrated into a context where the cognitive, affective, and social domains come into play (see Appendix A - A Generic Model of a Teaching-Learning Process).

For integration to be realistic, it needs to occur in a deliberate, step-by-step fashion. Using an intradisciplinary approach, integration should begin within one subject area. The connections are made between the subject area knowledge and skills; this learning is placed in a context that is authentic and meaningful to the life experience of the student.

The next step along the continuum -- a multi/pluridisciplinary approach -- involves parallel work between two or more subject areas. In this type of integration, teachers coordinate the timing and delivery of related topics. The next level of integration along the continuum uses an interdisciplinary approach which connects the knowledge and skills from two or more subject areas. The multi/pluridisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches also place learning in a context that is authentic and meaningful to the life experience of the student.

A transdisciplinary approach goes beyond the subject areas where knowledge is repositioned within the context of students' independent projects. This approach completely restructures the school environment.

All types of curricular integration involve a great deal of planning on the part of the teacher. Professional development and support from school administrators and communities are fundamental to the implementation of all types of curricular integration.