I wholly agree with the concept that brain based education makes a
difference. Making understanding meaningful has been linked recently with
theme immersion and thematic learning, but the key component is to try to
make the theme relate to student concerns. That way the inquiry generated
by the theme is personally relevant -- students want to problem solve what
they are interested in. (Motivated to be interested in most of the time.)
There are additional components to brain-based learning environments
-- I like the work of William Glasser -- who's research promotes a teacher
as leader model in the classroom, and stresses the importance of a
Inquiry teaching pre-supposes that teachers are working together --
another important aspect of thematic work -- the theme doesn't stop at the
social studies door, or the science door, but includes all disciplines.
Teachers who are interested in true theme immersion need to be working
cooperatively with each other! This is administratively difficult for art
teachers who might be "elective" rather than "core" in planning or
implementing theme/immersion units.
Bunki has said some thoughtful things about arts and social science
linking in a natural way -- I think one thing is to look for natural
connections within established curriculum rather than re-inventing the wheel.
Integrated curriculum provides wonderful opportunities for expansion
into multicultural/diverse cultural issues of a community and back to
brain-based is a great place to incorporate different learning styles --
remember the 7 ways of knowing? Lazear now has a book out on the 7 ways of
teaching based on Gardner's work.
Whatever you do, don't stop looking for connections -- the opportunities are
Mary Baldwin College