Academic journal article Teaching Science

A Model for Curricula Integration Using the Australian Curriculum

Academic journal article Teaching Science

A Model for Curricula Integration Using the Australian Curriculum

Article excerpt

Curricula integration presents possibilities for broadening and deepening students' learning, yet more models are required for teachers to engage effectively in curricula integration. Utilising other subject areas to enhance science learning can extend the science curriculum, particularly in primary schools. Linking standards from subject areas through the Australian Curriculum and drawing on a teacher's pedagogical knowledge can assist in producing a rich learning experience for students.

INTRODUCTION

Targeting students' learning is at the centre of education. In addition, education is promoted as a solution on various issues; consequently, educators seek ways for teachers to address societal needs, students' learning needs and the overcrowded curriculum. There are definition debates and issues around integrating curricula. However, the rationale for primary students undertaking curricula integrated learning can provide motivation for teachers to devise and implement curricula integrated lessons in the classroom. This paper provides practical ideas for curricula integration that focus on combining achievement standards from the Australian Curriculum: Science and other key learning areas.

DEBATING DEFINITIONS

In the late 1970s, 'integration was a term used to highlight the combination of two or more subjects, and teachers mainly used topics and presented work thematically across the key learning areas (KLAs). To illustrate, a teaching program would outline a science theme (e.g., minibeasts) and then facilitate a series of activities that can be accomplished across other KLAs (e.g., Art-paint a picture of a fly; Dance--do a dance that resembles bees communicating). Many ideas were combined creatively but lacked purposeful directions for teaching, learning and assessment. Little consideration was given to assessment of each subject's outcomes or standards during integration. In addition, the term integration on its own has a stronger educational platform aligned with assimilating students with disabilities into mainstream classrooms; thus, there can be confusion with the one term having two meanings in an educational context.

Dowden (2007) debates, through other literature works, alternative terminologies associated with the subject of integration, "... including integrated curriculum, interdisciplinary curriculum, multidisciplinary curriculum, fused curricula, transdisciplinary curriculum, cross-disciplinary curriculum and integrative curriculum" (p. 55, italics included). He and Beane (1997) conclude, that the variety of terms presents confusion and ambiguity, while the term 'curriculum integration' has a greater clarity for usage. Importantly, the term 'curricula' is plural and as such needs to be part of the terminology for integrating two or more subject areas; hence curricula integration provides further clarity and makes the distinction that more than one curriculum area is being integrated. Consequently, the term curricula integration infers equality of achieving two (or more) standards from different KLAs.

The Australian Curriculum uses the terms achievement standards and standards, which "describes the quality of learning (the extent of knowledge, the depth of understanding and the sophistication of skills) that would indicate the student is well placed to commence the learning required at the next level of achievement" (ACARA, 2012a, p. 11, parenthesis in original). Standards-based education infers that planning for learning experiences has achievable standards at particular grade levels. Integrating standards means embedding two (or more) assessments (demonstrated in this article) to determine whether the standards have been achieved. Effective planning of curricula integration requires using standards from two (or more) subject areas (e.g., Science and Art, Science and English), which also becomes the assessment foci for teaching and learning. Curricula integration of standards into an activity necessitates pedagogical knowledge for developing students' understandings and skills in both subject areas, usually simultaneously. …

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