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1: Curriculum Integration

An integrated curriculum can be described as the type of curriculum that connects

different subject areas by cutting across subject matter lines and emphasizing unifying

concepts. This integration allows students to make connections and engage in relevant,

meaningful activities that can be connected to real life. (Beane, 1997: Etim, 2005; Fraser,

2000; Murdoch & Hornsby, 1997) stated that when used effectively curriculum integration

provides a learning environment that offers coherent education, allowing connections to be

made within and across subjects. This approach moves away from the traditional type of

teaching strategy, teachers are now charged with creating challenging, meaningful and fun

lessons that span across subjects. An old school of thought was that subjects were seen as

isolated from one another but with integration they are now seen as interconnected. Ping

(2006) used the following metaphor to illustrate what curriculum integration is supposed to

depict; “the seamless coat of learning”. Incorporating different subject areas is supposed to

be an easy transitions and students should be able to see the links between subjects.

Some of the benefits of an integrated curriculum are that it: captivates, motivates and

challenges learners, encourages active participation in relevant real- life experiences,

increases retention of lessons, provides opportunities to apply skills that they have learnt,

provides a better understanding of subject content and accommodates the diverse learning

styles and multiple intelligences. Students are now able to make connections and see the

relevance with the different subjects they may be pursuing and their real-life experiences. An

integrated curriculum is now a viable way to enable meaningful learning to become a reality.

According to Vars (1991), integrated curriculum seems to be the best vehicle to empowering

students, parents and teachers.

Literacy is one of the major challenges faced by the institution at which I am

presently in. As part of my action research I decided to partner with both the English and

Visual and Performing Arts Department to assist me with some strategies to reach these Form

One (1) students. It is the perception that “Social Studies teachers are not English teachers

and reading falls under the purview of the English Department, my firm belief is that every

teacher is a teacher of reading. In most subjects, students need to develop their reading and

comprehension skills to be able to understand their subject content. Curriculum integration

was beneficial to the success of my implementation strategy

I approached Ms Mc Dowell and Ms Granger from the English Department who

suggested that I use the “Read Aloud” strategy to try to encourage a culture of reading. This

strategy allowed me to use my voice and tone to make the topics that I taught interesting for

the students. I incorporated at least fifteen minutes “Read Aloud” sessions during my

teaching period, twice for the week. Every student got the opportunity to read individually, in

peers and groups. The students were able to mimic my reading and practise reading aloud in

front of their peers and teacher. It helped some of the students to build their self-confidence

as well as increase their vocabulary and comprehension skills. Students now were looking

forward to the “Read Aloud” classes and I saw a drastic change with some students and their

approach to reading in the classroom.

The Visual and Performing Arts Department, which incorporate Visual Arts, Music,

Theatre and Dance through the assistance of Ms Brown, Mr Phillips and Ms Moore helped

me transform my lessons into experiential learning for my students. When I looked at the

topic of “People who have contributed to Trinidad and Tobago Multi Cultural Society” the

importance of music and festivals came to reality for my students. The influence of the

French and Africans was depicted during our carnival celebrations at the school. The pre -

knowledge that they would have gained from the lesson in Social Studies class, they put into
practice when they had to create their costumes and portray it for the entire school

population. The VAPA curriculum allows the students to be active participants in a lesson,

students are given the opportunity to be in charge of their learning and decision-making

process. I gave my students the VAK test during our orientation programme to determine

their learning styles. The VAK model of learning styles suggests that there are three main

types of learners: - Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetics learners, by identifying these learning

styles, teaching strategies are supposed to be incorporated in lessons to reach these diverse

types of learners. The results of the VAK test indicated that the majority of my students

were Auditory and Kinesthetics learners. The collaboration with this department cultivated

the passion for learning among my students, many of them were enthusiastic about their

project. These 21st century learners like music and technology, many of them can multi-task

and it is easy for them to learn and express their feelings, views and thoughts through these


As I reflect on the positives of using curriculum integration with my lessons, I must

say that incorporating Visual and Performing Arts has been a very useful tool in reaching the

diverse learners in the educational system. Students gravitate towards these areas, it allows

them to become the centre of attention, the main players and the experience now becomes

real and memorable.

In conclusion, I must reiterate that in recent times Curriculum Integration seems to be

one of the best approaches in enhancing the learning process. As mentioned earlier literacy is

another main challenge that our students face and through my Action Research project, I tried

to motivate my students and make my lessons more student - centred.