Meeting National Standards with Integrated Curriculum,
In trying to implement the "No Child Left Behind" Act, schools
are scrambling to standardize their curriculum and upgrade their
instruction to make sure students can pass achievement tests
mandated by the Act. In order to fit all the instruction and
other demands of childhood education into the day, many schools
have resorted to "teaching to the test," shortening lunch
period, and cutting back on or even eliminating recess.
There are better ways to provide the instruction that students
need without relying on boring drills or lengthening an already
demanding school day. For years, savvy teachers have been
integrating the curriculum - using high-quality children's
literature to teach phonics and other basic reading skills;
combining reading and art lessons with history, social studies,
science, and math; and relying on the concepts of multiple
intelligences theory and differentiated learning to reach every
The availability of high-quality children's literature has never
been greater. Children's book publishers are providing rich
collections of compelling stories that reflect the increasingly
diverse world of today's primary and middle school students.
Educational publishers are also offering colorfully illustrated,
engaging books and periodicals on a wide variety of subjects
designed to meet today's national curriculum standards.
For years dedicated teachers have known about and used mult
iple intelligences theory in their classrooms. Harvard
graduate school professor Howard Gardner proposed in his 1983
book Frames of Mind that human beings learn by use of
seven different intelligences - verbal, logical-mathematical,
musical, visual-spatial, tactile kinesthetic, and inter- and
intrapersonal. He later suggested that more intelligences exist,
among them naturalistic intelligence, spiritual intelligence,
and something he referred to as "existential" intelligence.
Teachers quickly latched onto this concept to provide a variety
of learning experiences in their classrooms involving these
intelligences. In addition, they've geared their teaching
methods to children functioning at a variety of developmental
and intellectual levels. The combination of multiple
intelligences theory and individualized learning opportunities
has in recent years been formalized as differentiated or differential learning.
Differentiated learning allows for targeted instruction that
will teach children the basics needed to meet state and national
requirements while providing support for slower learners and
enrichment for learners at all levels. A wealth of materials for
both multiple intelligences theory and differentiated learning
is available to help teachers structure a supportive classroom
environment for all their students.
The demands of the "No Child Left Behind" Act don't have to
result in developmentally inappropriate expectations or rigid
scheduling for our children. Schools can use many creative,
child-friendly techniques that will help students of all ages
meet learning standards while retaining their carefree,
fun-loving kid status.