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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

An Introduction to Integrated Studies

Combining academic subjects produces deeper learning and a better understanding of the interrelationships between them. Read a short introductory article or watch an in-depth video.
Transcript

An Introduction to Integrated Studies (Transcript)

Teacher: Three-sixty times two-

Narrator: Public education in America hasn't changed much since it began in the mid-19th century with a curriculum adopted from Prussia that featured reading, writing, and arithmetic, taught in separate periods, ruled by the clock.

Sir Ken Robinson: In school subjects tend to be hermetically sealed off from each other. You know so you do science on a Thursday morning, you do math in the afternoons. And this is really a feature of education because outside of education people know naturally that all these things flow in and out of each other, you know, that disciplines affect each other.

Teacher: All these digital photographs actually fill in the missing parts.

David Williamson Shaffer: We don’t live in an industrial economy anymore. We live in a knowledge economy so we have to think about education in a fundamentally different way.

Teacher: Look where the water is falling.

David Williamson Shaffer: We can't be focusing on basic facts and basic skills. We have to think about ways of thinking that are going to matter more than what we do in traditional schools right now.

Teacher: You want to be a photojournalist?

Students: Yes.

Teacher: Oh alright.

Narrator: One successful approach to curriculum design is Integrated Studies which blends various subjects and brings them into meaningful association and often through projects. Integration provides students with a depth and breadth of understanding that goes beyond individual subject matter knowledge.

Teacher: It's called the circumference of the circle, so when you measure around this-

Narrator: At Ferryway School the Iron Works project which is a collaborative effort of a dozen teachers integrates math-

Earl Fitzpatrick: Maybe two millimeters.

Narrator: Art, English, history, and science.

Man: What's this simple machine right here?

Student: Wheel and axle.

Man: Wheel and axle, right.

Earl Fitzpatrick: The project is not just about the water wheel. It's not just about the Saugus Iron Works. It's about all of the subject areas being brought together: the rocks and minerals, the simple machines, the technology concepts.

Student: Right click.

Narrator: Brain research supports the notion that learning increases when information is presented in meaningful connected patterns.

Anxhela: It looks like shiny metal.

If you're like in different classes you sometimes forget because your mind is on one class and then you have to be focused on another class. But when it's all together you could just focus on one thing because it's all the same.

Narrator: Success in integrated studies requires flexibility and scheduling and collaboration among teachers. Studies show that benefits include a sense of teamwork, a faster retrieval of information, and higher attendance and homework completion.

Earl Fitzpatrick: Here we go!

Tom DeVito: You know, often you don't have the chance to show kids that education is real, that there's value to it and they get a chance to put that all together and it's just wonderful seeing their enthusiasm, and the teachers too. It's not easy, but we know what the benefits are so that's why we do it.

Students: Go! Go! Go!

Earl Fitzpatrick: We have a lift!

Students: Yay! Whoo!

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Credits

Video Credits

Produced, Written, and Directed by

  • Ken Ellis

Coordinating Producer:

  • Amy Erin Borovoy

Editor:

  • Karen Sutherland

Associate Producers:

  • Leigh Iacobucci
  • Miwa Yokoyama

Production Assistant:

  • Neil Tan

Camera Crew:

  • Rob Weller
  • Keith McManus
  • John O'Connor
  • Brian Cardello
  • Rick Greenwell

Narrator:

  • Kris Welch

Original Music:

  • Ed Bogas

Still Photographs Courtesy of

  • Elizabeth West
  • © 2008
  • The George Lucas Educational Foundation
  • All rights reserved.
Integrated Studies Overview

Comments (6)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

asma aamer's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

its really wonderfull video on integerated studies.The issues related to integrated studies are clearly apprehended by the key sentence "succees in integrated studies requires flexibilty of schedualing and collaboration among teachers".It is really a big problem for subject teachers to take out time from very busy scheduals to impement integerated studies. It is need of time that a curriculum to be devised which promote project based integerated studies for better learning outcomes of children in and outside their schools.

Gary  Townsend's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Looks like the students are really getting ahead by taking and teaching them what they are interested in. Good job

Kelsey Kempter's picture
Kelsey Kempter
Fourth Grade Teacher

We are required to teach one integrated study per trimester next year. I have never taught an integrated study before but am looking forward to the challenge. It is amazing what children can do when held to a challenge.

Christine's picture
Christine
Kindergarten Lead-Teacher, Shiprock, NM

Integrating core content areas into other content areas makes learning fun and provides the student with a reason to learn. At times I hear colleagues and other educators undermine Early Childhood saying all they do is play. What they don't realize is that the Early Childhood education programs have been integrating core content areas into other content areas for years.
Children listening to a read aloud, "The Drop in My Drink: The Story of Water on Our Planet" By Meredith Hooper and Chris Coady. With this book students in my Kindergarten class not only learn about water and where it comes from (Science and Social Studies), they also do reflection assignments (Writing); connect the book to other text/self/& world by reading other books about water (Reading); doing a webquest on water or searching for other books about water (Technology); count how many droplets of water make a cup of water (Math).
Integrating studies makes learning fun and exiting to learn. It's not hard to plan, perhaps when you first start it may be a little challenging. However; like anything else in life, once you get the hang of it you will enjoy how much more time you have to do other projects you have been wanting to do.

Ruby Tippett's picture

How can teachers who teach second, third or fourth grade include integrated studies to their objectives? If I was a teacher for second grade, I would include this in Health lessons by letting kids go on a computer to see different types of diseases or illnesses.

Miss Videtti's picture
Miss Videtti
First Grade Teacher

Before teaching First Grade, I was a Science Teacher in a primary school. The other specialists & I would plan together for every holiday & event we could. We each brought ideas that covered our content area and together the children were immersed in the subject matter. Integrating subjects in the classroom is so logical for me now, even if I am unable to work with colleagues. Let the class collaborate! If you have a unit or lesson that you are required to cover, ask yourself; how can this relate to every other subject? If you get stuck, use the Multiple Intelligences as a guide. -What can we do to incorporate visual/spatial (-an art project?). What music, audio or sounds can we listen to? Where does nature come in? What can we write about? What books can inspire us or be used for reference? The children love to have meetings to offer their opinions & suggestions. Once you get going, the ideas will flow naturally!

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