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Lesson Plans

Re: integration

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Mary Tapia (
Mon, 4 Mar 96 17:22:08 CST

I have held onto your question for when I had more time to respond. I have
a moment to breath. I look at integration as the combination of 2 or more
subjects (in our case one being art) in which both subjects meet a
curricular goal through the experience. I thought I would clarify my
definition first before explaining my opinion because I think that the
word"integration" has been misused and misinterpreted in situations that I
would consider "parallel" teaching. "Parallel Teaching" isn't half as
useful as truly integrated units. An example of parallel teaching would be
the science class is studying insects so they draw insects in art. You may
have focused on shading techniques and/or complementary colors while they
were drawing them but they are just showing what they have already learned
in science. In a way, it's double the work for the kids. Integration
would be if they actually learned a science outcome as aresult of the
project in art. So as shallow as this example is( I apologize) , if they
actually learned that insects have 3 main body parts as a result of the art
experience that would have been true integration. Usually, though, they
have already learned that insects have 3 main body parts in science and are
just showing what they have already learned.

So in order to avoid shallow integrated lessons, both the classroom teacher
and the art teacher have to plan out what the bigger concepts are. Why do
the kids have to learn about insects anyway? What is the big concept they
should walk away with from this unit? It certainly isn't that insects have
3 main body parts. They could live without knowing that. But maybe it is
the interdependency of the insect world. Maybe it is the sense of
community and insects are just one small example of this bigger picture.
Once you know what the "Big Idea" is your challenge as art teacher is to
figure out how you could help communicate the idea of interdependency or
community through art. I'll latch onto the obvious in community for the
example: art is a reflection of the society/community. So while preparing
your unit on Community you and the classroom teacher sit down and plan what
are the main points of community that you want to get across. You would be
sure to include your art outcome that art can be a reflection of the
artists community and gather examples and lessons that would help
illustrate that outcome. The science teacher might include the idea that
there are distinct roles within a community and when that role is void
someone or thing usually steps up to replace it. He/she might decide to
use insects as an illustration of that bigger idea.

You commented that:" I think what would hold back the integration of art is
>either a teacher's ignorance on the subject or general direspect. If there
>is disrespect for art as a subject, is there a way we could enlighten the
>disbelieving falculty ?"

I would argue that with the above example of integration as I understand
it, the element that "holds it back" is that of planning time. It really
takes a lot of quality time together with the classroom teacher to be sure
that both you and he/she meet worthwhile objectives and that the kids
benefit by learning a concept that will help them gain an understanding of
life/the world and not just an interesting fact for "Trivial Pursuit".

If I can just toss another opinion your way now that I have taken this much
of your time, I also believe that not everything can or should be
integrated all the time. Not only would that be a daunting task but it
would not allow for many of the skill building lessons that are needed as
prior knowledge before tackling some of these bigger ideas well. The idea
of integration as I have described it helps support the idea that kids
learn in different ways. If they don't get the "big Idea" through the
linguistic presentation of the insect community in science, for example,
then you hope they might more easily pick it up through your visual or
tactile manipulation of the information in art.

Hope this helps ...and makes sense. Don't hesitate to ask for
clarification. I realize I'm not the most articulate at times! Good luck
on your search for info.

Mary Tapia
Hoffman School