What is an Integrated Curriculum?
Before explaining what an integrated curriculum is, it is important to note that we teach core morning classes in Mathematics, Science, English, Social Studies and Technology. Our integrated curriculum applies those subjects and the projects students complete in a related manner. We treat knowledge as being seamless and interrelated. An integrated curriculum is a means of breaking down the artificial barriers between subjects as they have been traditionally taught. It is also an effective way of broadening the possible topics that may be learned/investigated. Within the school’s written curriculum, the staff ensure that all of the Essential Learning Areas (ELAs) are covered at the appropriate levels.
What is a Project-Based Curriculum?
A project-based curriculum treats the investigation of a topic as the basis for learning. The students complete eight projects each year. Within each topic, the staff identify the areas of the national curriculum that need to be overtly taught within the ELAs. Each year, the topics will encompass the full ELA requirements for that level. Within each set project, all of the Learning Areas are included and the students have the opportunity to direct their own learning and work to a depth and breadth that is difficult to achieve within a traditional structure. Their learning skills (e.g. goal setting, planning, investigative research, presentation, computing, etc) are enhanced, as are their thinking skills (e.g. metacognition, evaluation, synthesising information, etc).
Their basic academic skills (reading, writing, mathematics) are in no way ignored but are enhanced and used as a building block for in-depth work.
An I.B.P. is an Individual Base Plan.
Traditionally, only students with “Special Needs” have received these. In recent years, the government has required schools to show that they also cater for Gifted and Talented students. Hence, I.B.P.s have shifted to that end of the continuum.
At Middle School West Auckland, we think every child needs an I.B.P. as they all have strengths worth enhancing and weaknesses to overcome. In addition to working through the school’s curriculum, each child will have their own base document programme, which identifies interests, strengths, areas needing development, goals, and progress measurements. Developing the plans will be a negotiated process between staff, the child, and parents.
Effectively, what will be achieved are the structures for the best kind of education that are offered to Gifted and Talented children in some schools – but in this case, it will be for each student. Their range of abilities will be recognised and developed using the best learning theory and applications available under the knowledge that intelligence is not a fixed entity but able to be developed in each child.