Always Room to Integrate

How many times have you heard the words “integration” or “collaboration” and cringed because you were left wondering where is the time to do that authentically?

Being vulnerable here, but personally, I’ve experienced that feeling quite a few times. It takes work and flexibility to integrate and collaborate across a grade level or department, and the understanding that the learning is bigger than just one discipline. It is teaching to the whole learner, and making connections across various disciplines. And all of these take time and the one thing we as teachers don’t have enough is “time”. So how do we make it work? Where can we make meaningful and authentic connections without endless meetings?

 I have found that simple discussions to highlight the connection between Music and Literacy or Music and Math have been really helpful. One of the best discussions I’ve had recently was when a student realized musical rhythms were all fractions. The student was able to identify a 32nd note as 1/32 because he saw the connection between a half note, a quarter note, an eight note and so forth. That it was the small moments that really caught students attention and while the full-scale collaborations are great, I’m starting to wonder if the small moments matter just as much?

 I have a few examples of looking for connections between music and other disciplines that I thought were compelling. These examples helped students connect to the learning through a transdisciplinary lens.

Music + Literacy

Here we looked at the connection between a musical staff and created an acrostic poem.  Students were making acrostic poems on Seesaw using their names and quickly made my own connection. 

Here we used pitch letter names to create 2 – 6 letter words highlighting vowels and constants. This took place when I saw again through Seesaw students organizing words based on how many vowels they had. 

Grade 1 students went on a Syllable Scavenger Hunt looking for objects with 1 and 2 sounds to connect with our musical rhythms of Ta and Titi. We then sorted and shared our findings with each other to share wonderings. This was due to hearing Ms. Carly Koontz help a student by pronouncing syllables for support spelling. 

Music + Math

This was a student identifying beats per measure using 4/4, ¾, and 2/4. This required the student to analyze fractions and whole numbers and identify the correct number of beats in each measure. 

Art + Music

Here is a provocation I used when collaborating with Visual Arts and Drama. The question students had to think about was “What might these sound like?”

After discussing it, students started to draft possible soundscape for each piece. 

A student planning their soundscape connecting color and mood when looking to musical knowledge of dynamics and instruments. 

Students created a soundscape that depicted what they thought the piece they selected sounded like, tying in dynamics, tempo and timbre. 

Traveling Connections

These traveling maps were taken to each different classroom and discussed with the teacher. They considered what each attribute or concept would look like in each discipline. This was a simple activity that had students thinking holistically about their learning. 

Looking for musical connections

This was a discussion with the provocation “How can we combine our learning to create something?” I wanted to spark curiosity and creativity during distance learning to see if students could think of something new we might be able to do. 

This was a graph that we then created during our Grade 1 unit of Sharing the Planet. We were looking at recyclable instruments and how we might connect with Literacy and Math. We discussed creating “How to” books for Literacy and measuring for Math. 

All of these examples were authentic and genuine integrations. I have seen it one too many times when integration is forced because it “has to happen”. I always ask why? Why not look for another possible connection in the future or cycle back to a previous unit and draw upon previous knowledge? 

What I do know is that integration doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t have to take countless meetings for it to be meaningful and effective for student learning. It can be a simple discussion to spotlight a genuine connection or more indepth dive. For more ideas and thoughts, be sure to check out #PYPchat’s latest chat on Transdiciplinary Learning shown here.  How do you integrate in your classroom? Do you have any advice? Share below! 

Continue sharing your learning!


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