The rational for doing a planning a creative curriculum for a group of pupils was. For children this way of working would give support to learning in a creative manner
The school that I work within is a multi-cultural school whereby, a high proportion of the pupils are from different backgrounds. A high percentage of the pupils speak English as an additional language. A number of pupils have special educational needs (SEN), therefore additional support is provided for them. There are also other areas of needs such as behavioural, social, and emotional difficulties. The school has an unusually high number of pupils who start and leave the school at various times of the school year, which impacts on their learning. The school celebrates a multi-cultural and vibrant school community. Most pupils live within the vibrant cosmopolitan areas, and other surrounding areas of the School.
The school ethos is to inspire and enable all learners to achieve their goals. The school is very focused on putting pupils first. It deems it important that all pupils feel valued, and are able to participate fully in school life. Also, that all pupils have the opportunities to learn regardless of age, abilities, sex, gender, culture, or religious beliefs. The school takes opportunities to promote cultural awareness in a variety of ways. The school promotes achievements, working in partnership and encourages an environment that is socially inclusive, its values and purposes are underpinning to the school curriculum.
The class that I work within consists of twenty eight children of mixed academic abilities, and are from different social and cultural backgrounds. A number of children have special educational needs, and different languages which can be a barrier to some pupils' learning. Some children will need additional support, to enable them to learn. I would mainly give support to this particular group to enable them to be able to participate fully within the class environment. Support work is undertaken within small group, individual and whole class situation. All these areas of learning have to be taken into account when planning a creative curriculum. I am currently working within a class that has several pupils who speak English as an additional language (EAL). Although this can initially create communication and learning barriers, as well as what is understood. I have planned to overcome these barriers by the use of additional support, making good use of visual aid material.
Education influences the values of society, as well as reflecting them. It influences society in a fundamental manner. It is important, therefore, to be aware of a wide range of common values as well as purposes that underpin the school curriculum and, indeed the work of schools. Education should enable us to respond in a positive manner to the challenges and opportunities of the fast changing world in which we live and work. Of great importance, is the fact that, we need to be prepared to engage as individuals, citizens, workers, parents, and with social, economic, and cultural change. This includes the continuing globalisation of the economy and society on a whole. Nowadays, there are new education, work and leisure patterns, as well as the ubiquity and rapid expansion of communication technologies. This all means that we need to be adaptable to a continually changing society.
Teachers play a fundamental role in these changes as they are an important part of the educational system. They teach as according to the values in society, following the guidelines of the National Curriculum. In 1988 the National Curriculum was introduced to ensure that all children received a balanced and broad curriculum. This is a legal requirement and as such all state schools must follow it. The National Curriculum was devised to ensure that all children would receive the same basic education.
The Review of the national primary curriculum prioritizes the development of:
A strong, coherent curriculum which has flexibility to personalise teaching and learning is crucial to driving up standards further. It is central to the ambitions we have set out in the Children's Plan and to delivering the outcomes of the Every Child Matters agenda. (Rose, 2009, p.27).
The key outcomes of Every Child Matters agenda are the following: being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and economic well-being (HM Treasury, 2003). In addition, the Rose review likewise recommends that the curriculum
must provide all pupils with a broad and balanced entitlement to learning
which encourages creativity and inspires in them a commitment to
learning that will last a lifetime. (Rose, 2009, p. 27)
Jim Rose (2009) reports in the Independent Review of the Primary Curriculum that many teachers complained that the existing national curriculum has too much content that are obligatory to be taught to children that to cover all of it would make them lose time in teaching each in depth and breadth or for children to consolidate their learning. He also mentioned the Cambridge Primary Review (2009) and the Children, Schools and Families Committee (2009) share the same view. Selecting relevant prescribed content and prevention of overloading were central to the review so schools will be able to meet their goals of helping children build on their prior learning and meet their individual needs to learn better.
The Rose Review (2009) recommends that the primary curriculum should be organized to cover six areas of learning, namely: understanding English, communication and languages; mathematical understanding; scientific and technological understanding; historical, geographical and social understanding; understanding physical development, health and wellbeing and understanding the arts. Cross studies amongst these areas are highly encouraged for children to see connections and meaning in each area and to value the relevance of each area in their lives.
The principle of cross curriculum pertains to a form of instruction that provides learning experiences which combine content areas across multiple disciplines collectively. The initiative to integrate curriculum began when John Dewey (1938) proposed that curriculum be linked to real-life experiences and organized around activities that interest and engage children actively. Dewey asserted that children's interests naturally progress into appropriate learning activities and extend to various areas of study. As implied by the guidelines for appropriate curriculum, the concept of integration can also be attributed to the integrated nature of development; that is, development in the different domains does not occur in isolation; rather they influence one another (Bredekamp and Rosegrant, 1992). An integrated curriculum allows the young child to perceive the world around him more clearly. Furthermore, it provides opportunities for in-depth exploration of a topic and learning that has a thorough coverage; more choices and therefore more motivation to learn and greater satisfaction with the results; more active learning; an opportunity for the teacher to learn along with the children and model lifelong learning; and a more efficient use of student and teacher time (Brewer, 2001).
Some of these views fall in line with that of Summerhill, which is an independent School that was founded in 1921 by A S Neill. The school has different views of education and of how children should learn, their philosophy is that children should be allowed freedom of choice of how their time was spent, and they have the option of whether they go to lessons. The children have a lot of say within the community of the school as there are regular meetings, whereby teachers and children are given an opportunity to have equal say in what takes place. In our primary school the children do have a voice, even if it is not to the extent of Summerhill school. The school council is used as a forum for putting points of views forward by both teachers and pupils.
Themes provide coherence and allow young children to understand meaningful relationships across subject and skill areas. Using themes as an instructional tool organizes learning around basic concepts and ideas, and creates a general framework which serves as a basis for relating content and processing information from a range of disciplines. Content areas in an integrated curriculum largely stem from the children themselves - their interests, questions, and passion. This gives children the opportunity to become active partners in curriculum planning and the learning process; in effect, this departs from the traditional notion of a student's role of passively listening to a teacher. The emphasis of the educational process then shifts from teaching to learning.
When I was planning a creative curriculum, (Appendix A) it was important to ensure that differentiation is taken into account. Consideration was given in regards to different levels of abilities, therefore differentiating the lessons. It was important to address the varied learning abilities of the group, to ensure that all pupils are able to participate, and are able to learn well. Pupils that have special educational needs would be allowed extra time to complete their work. I would follow pupils IEP plans to ensure that their areas of needs were supported and set goals are met.
When planning it is important to ensure that the support of all learners are taken into account. Therefore, the inclusion of different learning styles; visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, pragmatic is necessary. Being familiar with the pupils IEP Plans, means that I am aware of their learning needs and was able to address individualised goals and targets. Planning consists of lessons that can support the more able pupils that need to be challenged. When the lesson requires the pupils to work in pairs, they are grouped to enable them to support each other. Having achievable tasks that the pupils can do unaided will support Independent learning.
The use of teaching methods which allows for involvement of pupils in carrying out tasks is undertaken. To differentiate resources I would use a variety of resources to support learning such as, using worksheets, writing frames, use of text from a range of sources, and complexity. Opportunities should be given throughout the lessons for questions to be asked. Questions would also be asked which would highlight the knowledge that children have, and would consist of how, which, and why questions. The group would be given time to give feedback on how they felt the lesson went.
This integrated curriculum presents a number of possibilities and directions that the class can take. It can touch on multiple subject areas at a time and be designed to cover all subject areas (Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Math, Arts, Music & Values) while developing all developmental domains in the child: Physical, Social, Language, Cognitive, Emotional & Aesthetic with the concepts and activities planned out. All the sub-concepts are directly linked to the major concept and each sub-concept may further be dissected into more and more mini-branches. This is cross curriculum at work! As always, it is the interest of the children in the topic that needs to be considered (Fraser, 2000).
It is important that the curriculum is learner-centered to ensure that their interests are captured, thus their learning is engaged. This reflects a process model and is consistent with constructivist philosophy. This stems from theories of Piaget and Vygotsky. Chaille (2008) argues that constructivism believes that children are constructing knowledge on their own and the learning environment considers and respects that. "In a constructivist classroom, children are constructing an understanding that they are building their own theories and constructing their own knowledge through interaction with a knowledgeable adult and other children" (Chaille, 2008, p.5). It has much value in helping children use their minds well. Constructivist curriculum helps promote thinking, problem-solving and decision-making in children making them flexible and creative thinkers (Cromwell, 2000).
The situation was very different in my time of schooling, subjects were taught separately, and there was not much room for creativity within the curriculum. There was no additional support within the classroom; therefore if you did not understand something it was not always easy to share this. In fact no adequate support was in place for underachievers who use to get sent to a remedial class as it was known as, for all their studies, there was a big stigma to having to learn in this way. There was no recognition of the need to support different learning styles, or levels of understanding. The way you were taught was very set.
I feel that learning is much more child centred now, and that now the curriculum is creative in a way that it covers areas that would otherwise be missed. Children can now get the support that they need, as additional supports are in the classrooms. Assessment take place, outside agencies are used to further support children. The children also get one to one and small group support in areas of weakness such as reading, numeracy, and another area to which I work within which is speech, language, and communication. The creative curriculum allows for children's views to be listened to, they have the opportunity to express, and share their thoughts. The subjects are learnt in a way that flows better. The integration of subjects means that children can learn in a fun way.
Using this approach in teaching caters for all pupils, regardless of differences.
Ending a lesson with a plenary is an opportunity to summarise the lesson, and underline what has been accomplished. It helps pupils to focus on the most important rather than the most recent points that they have learned and the progress they have made. It should aim to refocus pupils on the objectives that have featured in the lesson. It is also a time to reflect on what has taken place, relate work in the lesson to other work. For the teacher, the plenary is an opportunity to assess learning and plan accordingly. The school has adopted an approach which is used throughout the lower end of the school whereby the pupils use their thumbs as a way of showing how they feel the lesson has gone for them, Appendix A, this consists of three statements, Don't Know, Not Sure, and Understanding Achieved. This can be used as another assessment tool to ascertain learning. This is a good tool to use however the methodology is not infallible, as pupils could be influenced by the responses of other pupils. So I use this approach but I am aware of the shortcomings.
At one glance, the integrated curriculum shows the coverage of what the children learn in school. It advocates natural learning, as it follows children's interests and not impose the concepts that they need to learn. It follows that the skills they learn become meaningful to them, as it sprouts from their own interests. It also gets to touch on multiple subject areas and work on various developmental domains at a time.
Working within a culturally diverse school, I encounter many different beliefs, such as Eid. I believe that the school not only has a responsibility to educate, but to instil values by the embracing of cultural diversity. I feel that there are many things that will shape pupils values, such as, their home environment, culture, religious beliefs, and the influence of significant people in their lives. My personal values contribute to my working practice, my belief, outlook on life, attitude, and conduct, and I believe that this is reflected in the way that I work. My cultural values include my faith which is very important to me, as is my family. I feel that this has been at the forefront of shaping who I am today.
I often wonder how my personal views affect the way I work and respond to those around me. It is important to respect other values without them influencing or having a dramatic impact upon that of my own. Within my role I feel that being a role model is important, therefore the children should see that we value them and others. More than content, learners must be engaged in various learning processes - "how to discover things, make sense of them, package them in different ways, and put knowledge to use in a wider variety of forms and for more, and more diverse, functions" (Newby, 2005, p. 298). Ways of knowing will be given much significance rather than the knowledge itself. Also, curriculum should be relevant to the pupils, so a locally designed curriculum will be more appreciated and become easier to relate to.
The richness of the cross or integrated curriculum cannot be underestimated nor overemphasized. It is a great tool to help teachers and a great way to maximize the learning potentials of their students.