Restructuring Special Area instruction
The Humanities experience will be lessons that thoughtfully and explicitly, integrate GLCE's from social studies and science specifically (but not exclusively) with one or more of the fine arts (music or art) and/or PE or media ILT (Information Literacy and Technology). For instance, PE teachers may reinforce outcomes in force and motion or directionality found in geography. Music teachers may teach the sound unit/lessons. Art teachers may illustrate science writing to reinforce the scientific process/observation; expository writing outcomes as student maintain art/science journals. PE teachers may teach aspects of the new grade level health curriculum regarding nutrition and some outcomes specific to the upcoming 5th grade science unit, the Human Body. Media/ILT teachers may use technology based research skills to answer a "big inquiry based question" having to do with social studies or science. These are natural and authentic connections within and among the elementary disciplines.
Educators have long recognized that students have different learning styles and background knowledge. The new 3 R's are rigor, relevance and relationships. Interdisciplinary instruction and shared teaching of outcomes gives students multiple opportunities to learn outcomes in different ways in different disciplines and with different teachers; increasing the relevancy through embedded or applied learning increases understanding and rigor. When the MEAP test items are released, each one is correlated with a specific GLCE (grade level content expectation). Schools can use the new MDE Student4Success website to match GLCE with building performance and individual student performance. If for instance, students in a school or at a grade level did not do well on a specific GLCE that school staff may want to increase "interdisciplinary" teaching opportunities, in order to better teacher or reinforce that concept. This can be done. Interdisciplinary teaching gives students repeated opportunities to learn a concept or proficiency in different ways with increased relevancy.
Our district's Equity work reinforces the importance of relevancy and the need to customize learning to reflect the student's background knowledge. We will do just that.
Elementary Interdisciplinary Humanities Strand
These classes will focus on fine arts literacy with an interdisciplinary connection to the core curriculum ---most specifically science and social studies. Arts Integration is commonly recognized by the Kennedy Center and other educational referent groups, as an approach to teaching in which students construct and demonstrate understanding through an art form. Students engage in a creative process which connects an art form and another subject area that meets evolving objectives in both. For purposes of the proposed plan in Ann Arbor Public Schools, this would also include integrating understanding through participation in physical education.
The arts platform will allow teachers to make learning more relevant by integrating science and social studies outcomes through the fine arts. For instance, vocal music GLCE's (Grade Level Content Expectations) focuses on sound generation; so does the 2nd grade science unit on sound. The Humanities course will focus on the interdisciplinary connection between the two disciplines. Similarly, vocal and instrumental music speak to the importance of composition; extending the attributes of music composition to prose and poetry as a natural link. Another example, Art education stresses observation and descriptors. Art journaling can be extended to include science writing and illustrations. Physical education can naturally address force, motion (3rd grade science) and some aspect of the human body skeletal/muscular systems (5th grade science) within contextual learning.
Humanities will be the reinforced learning of content outcomes through the arts discipline.