Friday, June 8, 2001
Integrating systems thinking and science into all curriculum areas
Integrating science with other curriculum areas is a continuing goal at the Carlisle Public Schools, said systems mentor Alan Ticotsky at the school committee meeting on May 22. The students are encouraged to explore the facts and ideas in science through reading and writing research papers and reports. There is great value for the student to discover the nature of research as a process of synthesizing knowledge and presenting it in well-organized reports.
Carlisle teachers are learning how to bring more science into the other learning areas. Ticotsky pointed out that by combining science facts and ideas with other class subjects student learning is more complete. "It is surprising to go into a class room and talk about science. The kids wonder about things and ask great questions," he said.
School committee (CSC) member Suzanne Whitney Smith noted how much science is included in the social studies curriculum. CSC member David Dockterman agreed and said that this can be a real challenge when science is not necessarily the expertise of the teacher. "We need to raise the expertise of the teachers and increase their scientific awareness. It is okay for the teacher not to know an answer, but not to give a wrong answer."
Eighth-grade math teacher Rob Quaden elaborated on systems thinking theory, an inquiry-based approach which is becoming more integrated into the curriculum. More teachers are becoming trained and feel more comfortable using the specific models and projects that have been developed for each grade level. For example, in a fifth-grade unit on spraying DDT in Borneo to eradicate malaria, students use connection circles, cause and effect diagrams, and causal loops to discover that small things make big differences. "We want the students to ask better questions," said Ticotsky.
Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson said. "It has been an extraordinary experience working with these teachers."
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