Integrating Curriculum w/ STEAM at the Core

During this week’s chat, I brought up a “What if:”


This is not just an idea, though.  It gets to the entire point of a personalized learning environment.  Real world learning is rarely isolated or “siloed” (as we like to say in education).  Real-world learning is often a jumble of everything together, and the trick is knowing how and when to use which content and skills.  Isn’t that the point of education?  To get our kids ready for “real life,” however that is defined?  And since we cannot define it beyond an individualized scope, maybe we shouldn’t try.  Maybe, instead, we focus on the environments.  We focus on the spaces between the silos as the real magic to where real learning and achievement occurs.

So, how might we (HMW) design curriculum and instruction in a way that is relevant, but still meeting state & local expectations?

Historically, we’ve focused on ELA/Math, because of the impact and “importance” of standardized testing.  A personalized learning and proficiency-based learning environment, though, doesn’t care about testing as much; it cares about learning.  And the systems we use should be built around principles of effective learning, and the individualized needs of our core users (students).  Since ELA/Math are easily embedded and connected with every other content area, #whatif we focused our core requirements on the areas of Social Studies, Science, Art, Engineering, Health, and Physical Education?  #Whatif we made ELA/Math more authentically integrated to those other content areas?  What kind of learning and achievement impact would we have?

I am thrilled to be working on this with a dedicated team of amazing educators at AOS #94.  We started off looking at the standards and learning targets for Science and Social Studies, and made connections between the two, developing driving challenges to focus our students on inquiry (versus content).  Some examples of the challenges our students will be facing:

  • Make predictions and connections between earth and solar systems
  • Make connections between human communities and natural ecosystems
  • Design a working solution to a human problem
  • How might we solve the problem of communicating over a distance?

Did I mention that these challenges will be faced by first graders?

Each of these challenges are deeply and explicitly connected to the Next Generation Science Standards and the Maine Social Studies standards, as well as the Common Core standards for Mathematics and English/Language Arts.  We have allotted approximately 8-10 weeks per challenge, and have scaffolded our assessments and instruction based on the levels of cognitive complexity/demand embedded in the standards and learning targets.

First grade.

Oh, and we’ve also designed similar plans for second and third grade as well.

Have I mentioned that the educators at AOS #94 are truly #awesomesauce?  I can’t say it enough.

How are you intentionally and explicitly integrating and connecting the content to make more authentic and relevant learning experiences?  Share your story with us on #edchatme!



This last week saw countless students, teachers, schools, and communities partake in #DotDay, celebrating the message of creativity and inspiration in Peter H. Reynold’s The Dot.  Fostering creativity and innovative mindsets is paramount in a 21st century, globalized, and unpredictable climate, and students from all ages and walks of life got chances to make, build, and inspire each other to go beyond their fears and trepidations and embrace challenge, uncertainty, and imperfection.

How did YOU celebrate #DotDay?

How will YOU make the principles of #DotDay a 365-day culture?

Let us know on Twitter using the #EdChatME hashtag.

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We are a ragtag collection of teachers and administrators committed to pushing our education systems to maximize student learning, potential, and engagement.  We believe in collaboration, connectivity, critical thinking, and creative problem solving.  Each week during the school year we gather on Twitter to discuss pressing, frustrating, inspiring, and challenging issues facing our classrooms, schools, districts, and systems.  Anyone is welcome to join the conversation.

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