June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.937.1 - 12.937.8
Integration of Elementary Engineering Elements In the Language Arts Program
Douglas L. Jamerson, Jr. Elementary School in Pinellas County, Florida, opened three and a half years ago with a daunting challenge. Create a learning institution in a predominantly ethnically isolated inner city area that would naturally integrate the ethnicity of the student population within the school without the aid of a district assigned plan for student placement. To facilitate this challenge, the district provided key resources: 1) a new state of the art school, 2) application and subsequent Magnet School Assistance Program grant (MSAP), and 3) latitude in hiring the instructional staff. The combination of these elements has resulted in a dynamic learning community.
Jamerson has utilized the resources from a Magnet School’s Assistance Program Grant to design, create and implement a standards based curriculum with the integration of essential elements of elementary engineering. In its fourth year of development, the grade level teams, with the support of specialists/coaches, and two local university professors, are producing integrated lessons for the seven units of study: Nature of Science, Gravitational Force and Resultant Motion, Electromagnetic Force, Natural Resources, Space Exploration, Life Science, and Ecosystems. The backward curriculum design process is being used to develop the integrated curriculum. This design process was developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe in Understanding by Design (ASCD, 1998). This requires teachers to answer three interrelated questions; 1) what do students need to know, understand and be able to do based on national subject area standards, Florida’s Sunshine State Standards and the Pinellas County Student Expectations, 2) what is acceptable assessment evidence that they have learned the standards, 3) what specific instructional activities and learning experiences will be necessary to achieve the desired results. To approach these questions systematically, Jamerson teachers are using the Informed Design Process.
Using these questions as a guiding framework, Jamerson has designed its uniquely integrated curriculum. This required thinking “outside the box” as there is not an existing integrated engineering curriculum. This effort has to include integrating the language arts program.
Elementary Language Arts Overview
The language arts curriculum, specifically, reading and writing, can easily provide an additional support vehicle for all engineering curriculum. While engineering is the central theme for the magnet program, the school wide program is supported with research-based curricula in core subjects like reading and writing. Reading instruction is aligned with the principles of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Florida’s Reading First initiative and utilizes the Harcourt Trophies core reading program.
Classroom teachers use the district’s pacing guide based on this reading program for identifying the focus skills and strategies. These skills and strategies are incorporated into integrated reading/engineering units of study. Focus skills/strategies lessons include: phonemic awareness,
Van Driessche, P., & Parsons, K., & Parsons, C., & Little, R., & O'Hare, D., & Barger, M., & Gilbert, R. (2007, June), Integration Of Elementary Engineering Elements In The Language Arts Program Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2534
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