INTEGRATED CURRICULUM AND LESSON PLANNING
Points to note when delivering the Integrated Curriculum with the Holistic Approach:
- 'Play' should be interpreted as active and interactive learning - one of exploration and discovery, and developmentally appropriate.
- 'Play' should be used to support the curriculum; not adapt the curriculum to just let children have fun.
- Be flexible. Adjust and adapt teaching methods according to children's needs e.g. prepare activities that are suitable for different levels (i.e. achievable tasks to encourage and scaffold the weaker students; and more challenging tasks to motivate the stronger ones).
- Do not be confined by syllabus contents. Take opportunity of teachable moments to expand subject concepts.
- Always document children's learning process. If possible, get the children to display learning by some form of illustrative and creative 'written' work.
Creative and experienced teachers with open-minds are more likely to be able to identify the pros and cons of the curriculum and adapt their teaching methods to bring out the best of the core curriculum. Take for example, we start by honing the students' speaking and reading skills, and when they are progressing, we need to start planning for the next step of pre-writing activities. We've got to prepare the children to be able to write to convey message and express ideas as well.
All educators should work together to further research and improve the Integrated Curriculum to benefit our children. Many teachers opt to earn their masters in education online since it allows the teachers to stay in the classroom, while at the same time enabling them to learn new approaches in learning theory and educational design.
Practical Steps in Planning the Integrated Curriculum
- State the learning objectives for the grade level you are planning (Or refer to the Key Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions from MOE's guidelines).
- Map out the various themes / topics for the year.
- Determine the sequence of the themes' units (in progression from simple units to more challenging ones). Usually the 'Expanding Horizon Approach' is used i.e. Individual - Family - Community - Nation - World.
- Identify types of lesson and learning centre activities for each learning area (Aesthetics and Creative Expression / Self and Social Awareness / Environmental Awareness / Language and Literacy / Motor Skills Development / Numeracy). * Ensure that Language and Literacy is present in all learning experiences.
- Select appropriate instructional materials - texts (e.g. storybooks), software and other media, to support the curriculum.* Do not do the reverse and purchase texts and materials to 'drive' the curriculum. Their purpose is to serve the curriculum, not 'drive' it.
- Develop curriculum-based assessments.
Portfolio Assessment (including observation notes, assessment checklists, on-field performance tests e.g. flexible interviews, creative drawings and writings, diagrams and sketches, and other records of achievement) is recommended for the Integrated Curriculum.
- Evaluate and review the curriculum.
* This should be an on-going process.
- Develop a storage and retrieval system for sharing and modification of contents.
Tips on Writing Integrated Lesson Plans
When writing Integrated Lesson Plans, teachers need to counter arguments questioning the use of Integration such as: it may result in superficial knowledge on the part of students, unlike disciplinary knowledge; many integrated units are poorly designed and loosely connected collections of activities.
To avoid the pitfalls and write effective Integrated Lesson Plans, teachers need to first build on a main subject (lesson focus) and then draw in experiences and information from other related subjects to support the lesson focus and extend students' thinking skills, so that integration is meaningful and contextualized.
Thus, teachers writing Integrated Lesson Plans need to have a vast body of knowledge, experiences and skills to draw upon.
*The sample lesson plan featured here is less complex and has not quite met the criteria in the New Curriculum Guide.
*We hope you would build on the ideas on this website and create new ones to share with others.