Magazine article Techniques

Water, Water, Everywhere Yet Do I Dare to Drink? an Example of Excellence in Integration and Interdisciplinary Education

Magazine article Techniques

Water, Water, Everywhere Yet Do I Dare to Drink? an Example of Excellence in Integration and Interdisciplinary Education

Article excerpt

Career academies are not new in Florida. They can be found throughout the state in every possible locale. One rural career academy school with approximately 200 students, and a nine-year history, Jackson Academy of Applied Technology (JAAT) in Marianna, Florida, has modeled integrated and interdisciplinary curriculum activities that rival most others in the country.

In 2000, under the leadership of Principal Randy Free, Jackson Academy decided on a school-wide theme to be used in each of the five career academies and their academic teams. The integration theme centered around water (quality, quantity, accessibility and availability) has produced some great student and teacher experiences. Water quality, quantity, accessibility and availability is a theme that has been carried forward each year, offering different problems for student research.

Each of five career-focused academies, including criminal Justice, art, technology, communications and health, took a different spin on the environmental problems related to water. The academic teachers teamed with the career academy teachers to ensure their courses provided authentic activities that further improved the students' depth of understanding of the importance of water.

Mathematics and science teamed up with the environmental scientist on campus to conduct water experiments and write technical papers. The students in health, technology and other subjects studied every aspect of the Florida wetlands in their home county of Jackson, which has the Chipola River running through it. Students also interviewed old settlers to find out about "yesterday's" water problems and challenges and then wrote and performed plays, poems and essays related to water.

Curriculum interdisciplinary instruction took on a unique face as students and teachers thought of ways that water was important in their lives. Many of the water activities were student driven with the teachers coaching on the sidelines. Some of the projects and activities that students led included the research and input included in writing grants and obtaining funding for environmental water-related projects. …

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