Interdisciplinary Instruction: A Practical Guide for Elementary and Middle School Teachers

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9780132277600: Interdisciplinary Instruction: A Practical Guide for Elementary and Middle School Teachers

This handbook provides an introduction to the interdisciplinary method, and offers practical suggestions about how to plan and implement it in the classroom. The author guides readers through specific steps that teachers follow in developing effective interdisciplinary unit plans, highlighting the practical application of planning principles and processes. Emphasis is also placed on the thinking processes involved in designing thematic and research-oriented thematic units. Key chapters discuss child development and interdisciplinary instruction, teaching requirements and concerns, common instructional strategies, and interdisciplinary instruction and the change process. Appendices include useful Internet sites, teacher-prepared computer presentations, and sample introductory lesson plans for interdisciplinary thematic units. For pre-service teachers of kindergarten through middle school.

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From the Publisher:

This book advocates the integration of disciplines--a holistic, thematic approach to the study of central themes and topics. The author guides readers through the specific steps teachers may follow in developing effective interdisciplinary unit plans, emphasizing the practical application of planning principles and processes.

From the Inside Flap:


Traditionally, instruction in our schools has tended to isolate the academic disciplines—or subject areas—from one another. In contrast, interdisciplinary instruction always begins with a central theme; the theme is then investigated using any disciplines that can assist in the inquiry. The themes that students study can vary greatly; some are typical of topics usually included in a social studies or science curriculum; however, themes from other disciplines, such as literature, mathematics, and the visual and performing arts can also become the basis of an interdisciplinary study.

Recently, there appears to be renewed interest among educators in the interdisciplinary method. Interest has been stimulated by legislative steps taken by many state departments of education. Since the first edition of this book, nearly all states have prepared lists of content learning standards; those lists strongly suggest the need for integrated studies. Some curriculum mandates also stress interdisciplinary instruction. For example, the New York State Education Department currently requires teachers in grades three through six to develop at least one interdisciplinary project with students in their classes each year. As a result, teachers and administrators are showing greater interest in interdisciplinary program designs and practical ways to plan for their implementation. Many teachers are anxious to learn exactly what interdisciplinary projects should involve and how they differ from other instructional activities.

The interdisciplinary approach is usually more familiar to early childhood teachers than it is to those who teach in the intermediate grades or middle school. Preschool and kindergarten teachers routinely plan their instructional programs around central themes, themes which are then used as much as feasible in teaching daily lessons and activities. Most primary grade teachers feel that they understand the method and that they have been readied for it by their college preparatory programs. Teachers in the intermediate and middle school grades, however, may feel they have less preparation and experience with the interdisciplinary approach than their early childhood colleagues.

The purpose of this book is to provide pre-service and in-service elementary and middle school teachers and administrators with a handbook that introduces the interdisciplinary method and offers practical suggestions on how to plan for and implement the method in classrooms. I have based this book partly on the materials that I prepared for my courses in teacher education. I have purposefully kept the theoretical chapters succinct—yet complete—so that the emphasis can be on the thinking processes involved in designing thematic and research-oriented thematic units two types of interdisciplinary unit plans. To emphasize the planning processes and illustrate the essentials of those processes as clearly as possible, I have included examples for each step in the unit planning processes outlined in Chapters 6 and 7. The models in this book illustrate one way to design interdisciplinary units—although surely not the only way. The point of view expressed throughout this book is that there is no single planning format that will work satisfactorily for every teacher.

This book is intended for use in methods courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; it is also appropriate for in-service courses in schools and teacher centers. The practical explanations and examples provided should prove especially helpful for teachers who have not previously studied interdisciplinary instruction and who want to learn how to get started.

College instructors who emphasize a constructivist approach to teaching and who advocate interdisciplinary methods in social studies, science, and generic methods courses can use this book to help their students understand both the theoretical and practical aspects of interdisciplinary instruction. Instructors of language arts and mathematics methods courses will find it valuable in helping students see the relationships between those disciplines and comprehensive interdisciplinary studies. ORGANIZATION OF THIS BOOK

The early chapters provide a theoretical framework for the method. Chapter 1 reviews the theory supporting interdisciplinary instruction, outlines its distinguishing features, and reviews the rationale for using it with students in elementary and middle schools. Chapter 2 explores the child developmental base for the method. It explains the relationship between children's growing and changing intellectual abilities during the different child developmental periods and provides an overview of the designs for two types of interdisciplinary units.

The primary requirements of teachers who plan to use the interdisciplinary approach are discussed in Chapter 3. That chapter also emphasizes the need for both general and child development knowledge, a compatible educational philosophy, the serious matter of excellence in classroom management skills, the application of learning principles, and the recognition of students' individual working and learning styles. These topics are followed by a discussion of team teaching and using technology with the interdisciplinary approach.

A new Chapter 4 includes a review of major planning concerns that emphasize the need for skills in unit and lesson planning. Practical aspects of interdisciplinary instruction are emphasized, along with a review of preliminary steps in the process of planning interdisciplinary units of study. Those preparatory steps include selecting unit themes and an interdisciplinary unit plan design. The introduction to unit planning is followed by a discussion of basic lesson planning strategies.

Several common instructional strategies are reviewed in Chapter 5, including questioning, determining levels of instruction with Bloom's Taxonomy, evaluating students' unit work, and developing learning centers.

Chapters 6 and 7 are specifically designed to teach the processes involved in planning thematic and research-oriented thematic unit planning. Chapter 6 details the processes involved in planning thematic units. Chapter 7 studies the research-oriented thematic unit, an alternative type of interdisciplinary unit for students at intermediate and middle school levels. Both chapters include a detailed unit plan outline, followed by the step-by-step procedure with examples at each step. Chapter 7 also suggests a way to plan and organize a research-oriented unit for use in a departmentalized school. At the end of each planning chapter is a complete version of the unit plan that was partially completed in the step-by-step explanation. These two chapters can be used by students for reference during practicums in class. As they follow the steps to plan their own units, instructors will be able to use valuable class time to interact directly with students and critique the plans they develop.

The final chapter presents a brief discussion of the process of change involved when teachers move toward an interdisciplinary program. It suggests ways in which school systems can support teachers as they work through that process. Also included is a discussion of the need for parent and community involvement in any curricular change. Chapter 8 concludes with a summary of major points introduced in the book. The four appendixes provide the reader with a selection of useful Internet addresses for teachers and students, information on teacher-prepared computer presentations, sample introductory lesson plans, and sample unit plan web designs—some of which were prepared by pre-service and in-service teachers.

In addition to reference lists, each chapter includes several activity ideas and a list of suggested readings related to chapter topics. The readings include early theoretical works for those who would like additional background material or who plan to undertake their own research on topics included in the chapters and writings that reflect current thinking and trends on those topics. NEW TO THE SECOND EDITION

All references in the second edition have been updated, and a list of several activity suggestions has been added at the end of each chapter.

New to Chapter 1 of this edition are discussions in support of the interdisciplinary approach involving human brain research, Gardner's eighth intelligence area, and the work of Maria Montessori.

Chapter 3 has been reorganized for a more logical grouping of topics. The section on technology in Chapter 3 includes a new discussion of presentation software. A new chapter—Chapter 4—includes an introduction to interdisciplinary unit planning and a new section on basic lesson planning. That section includes explanations and examples of learning standards, general and behavioral objectives, and the essential elements in the procedure sections of lesson and activity plans.

The assessment section, now in Chapter 5, adds a discussion of rubrics for grading students' projects and reports. Unit plan outlines in Chapters 6 and 7 now include headings for learning standards and informational resources for the teachers. Added to Chapter 8 is a brief discussion regarding the importance of including parents and the community in the change process.

Three appendixes have been added. A new appendix (Appendix A) provides a list of Internet sites especially useful for teachers. Appendix B provides suggestions for preparing a presentation and a complete lesson plan example involving a presentation. Appendix C includes three complete lesson plan examples. Six new unit plan designs have been added to Appendix D. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Our quest for knowledge is a lifelong pursuit in which we learn both from our experiences and one another. Teachers often play an important role in facilitating this process. For most of us, some teachers will be especially well remembered for their positive contributions. To begin, I consider myself fortunate to have been taught by Myrtle Cope, an exemplary master teacher. I want to thank her for the early influence she had on my decision to become an elementary teacher and for her constructivist approach, which continues to influence my teaching practice.

I would also like to acknowledge the late Roland Chatterton, a forward-thinking educator and pioneer in multidisciplinary education. Dr. Chatterton introduced me to interdisciplinary methodology; it was his patient mentoring and guidance that facilitated my own development as an interdisciplinary teacher.

I would like to thank my wife, Louise, for her patience and support as I prepared the manuscripts for both editions of the book. My colleagues in the Teacher Education Program at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury have provided me with their support, and I thank them for their interest and encouragement throughout the project. I am indebted to my colleagues, Jossie O'Neill and Gareth B. Wilmott, who provided me with their valuable feedback on my plans and early manuscript drafts, and I want to thank them for their time and many helpful suggestions. I also want to express my appreciation to several classroom teachers and my students in the Teacher Education Program at the SUNY/College at Old Westbury for permission to include their introductory lesson plans and unit plan web designs in Appendixes C and D.

I particularly wish to thank my reviewers for their input and suggestions: Gretchen L. Johnson, SUNY/College at Old Westbury; Barbara Kacer, Western Kentucky University; Cynthia G. Kruger, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth; Donna Merkley, Iowa State University; and Kathleen Uelsor, SUNY/College at Old Westbury.

I would like to acknowledge artist Nina Vassallo for the drawings she prepared for me that inspired and were adapted for the design on the cover of this book.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge my editors at Merrill/Prentice Hall: Debbie Stollenwerk for her continuous interest, counsel, guidance, and many professional suggestions as I prepared the manuscript; Colleen Brosnan for her expertise and the recommendations she made throughout the copyediting process; and Mary Harlan for her guidance and support in the final production stages of the book.

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Karlyn E. Wood
Published by Prentice Hall College Div (1996)
ISBN 10: 0132277603 ISBN 13: 9780132277600
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Wood Karlyn E.
Published by Prentice-Hall
ISBN 10: 0132277603 ISBN 13: 9780132277600
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